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

A Top Story Archives

Veteran Media Exec Dan Farber Joins Salesforce In Strategic Comms Role

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Dan Farber is one of the first tech industry journalists and in his thirty year career he has helped create many top publications and he has led many editorial teams. He "retired" from his senior executive position at CBS News in the summer and posted photos of his idyllic life in Sonoma County.

But I never believed he would be gone for long. After all, how can a dyed-in-the-wool newsman stay away when the world is changing so fast, and this small part of the world on his doorstep has so much to do with it?

This week he joined Salesforce.com as Senior Vice President Strategic Communications.

He'll be working closely with Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, who is starting to take on more of a leadership position on local and regional matters, a much needed role given his history of philanthropy and his potential to inspire a tech community that seems a little lost.

I'm looking forward to seeing Dan more often and I congratulate him on this next phase of his career. It also gives me a chance to repost my interview with Dan from January this year:

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Top Brazilian Startups Demo In Stormy San Francisco

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Photo credit: Chris Knight.

Rainy weather didn't dampen the enthusiasm shown by young Brazilian entrepreneurs at "Start-up Brasil Demo Day," reports Chris Knight.

Guest post by Chris Knight

It was a packed house earlier this week, for San Francisco’s first showcase of top startup talent being accelerated in by Start-Up Brasil and its government partners. The passion and elation in the air reminded me of Silicon Valley startups in the 1990s.

And judging by more than 100 VCs, bankers and corporate fund managers from the likes of Accel Partners, American Express, GE, Intel, Redpoint, Samsung and Silicon Valley Bank – many industry watchers had interest in hearing more from eleven of Brazil’s top startup founders. 

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Huddle Raises $51m For Enterprise Collaboration Push

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Huddle, the UK founded enterprise collaboration service, has raised $51 million to finance a large expansion.

Headquartered in San Francisco, Huddle is experiencing a boom in business and says the capital will help it grow at a faster rate. In 2014 it won seven of its top ten customers and business tripled from 2013.

Alastair Mitchell (above), CEO and co-founder, said, "Enterprises are frustrated with endless rounds of emails,  and are discovering how Huddle lets them collaborate internally, and with external partners, and to do it inside a secure environment."

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Analysis: InPowered's Bold Anti-Clickbait Strategy: Clicks For Free, Pay Only For Engagement

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The future looks bright for Peyman Nilforoush, CEO of inPowered.

InPowered this week announced that its news story promotion service for large brands would not charge for clicks but only for engagement by readers.

The company is fighting against a massive flood of click-bait, fraudulent clicks and shadowy promotional tactics with its policy of only charging customers for engagement.

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Mass Editorial Exodus At New Republic As Media Industry Woes Accelerate

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Turmoil at the venerable New Republic. Dylan Byers at Politico reports:

Nine of the magazine's twelve senior editors submitted letters of resignation to owner Chris Hughes and chief executive Guy Vidra, as did two executive editors, the digital media editor, the legislative affairs editor, and two arts editors. At least twenty of the magazine's contributing editors also requested that their names be removed from the magazine's masthead.

The mass departure came one day after a shakeup that saw the resignation of top editor Franklin Foer and veteran literary editor Leon Wieseltier, both of whom resigned due to differences of vision with Hughes, a 31-year-old Facebook co-founder who bought the magazine in 2012. Foer announced his resignation on Thursday after discovering that Hughes had already hired his replacement, Gabriel Snyder, a Bloomberg Media editor who formerly ran The Atlantic Wire blog.

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Vectors Of Engagement And The Click-Free Digital Economy

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A click is unreliable because its origins can be easily obscured for fraudulent reasons and its use as a metric of engagement is incomplete and deeply flawed.

There's a clue to where things are headed in this post by Josh Constine: Why LiveRail Ditched An IPO To Sell Its Video AdTech To Facebook For ~$500M

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Digital Transformation: Paperless Restrooms Send User Generated Alerts

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Flush with the success of a pilot program at its Silicon Valley HQ, Intel is rolling out digital restrooms across 22 campuses globally. From overflowing toilets to empty towel dispensers to faulty faucet motion sensors, Intel employees can now swipe their washroom maintenance requests using smartphones.

By Intel Free Press

Near field communications (NFC) chips  installed in the restrooms of Intel’s Robert Noyce Building at the beginning of 2014let employees anonymously report maintenance needs with a tap of their mobile phone. Those without NFC-enabled smartphones have the option to scan a QR code.

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Saturday Post: Silicon Valley's Liquid Amorality - Water Will Find Its Way

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The Facebook campus sits next to colorful algae on salt flats along San Francisco Bay.

Ten years ago in mid 2004 I left the Financial Times and started publishing Silicon Valley Watcher. Silicon Valley was starting to wake from a long downturn from the dotcom deflation and Google's August IPO was a good sign after several years of bad news.

The culture of Silicon Valley was different then. The software engineering community was more radical than today, and far more socially conscious. The open source software movement was very strong among engineers and there was overall an anti-commercial attitude and a respect for protecting an open commons.

It shared much in spirit with the radical English groups from the mid-seventeeth century such as The Diggers, and also with the The Diggers of the 1960s in San Francisco, who ran free stores and served free food from their kitchens.

The business bible of 2004 was The Cluetrain Manifesto and it came directly from that culture. Here's an excerpt:  

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Castlight GigaOm Panel And SAP's 450 Designers...

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Om Malik (right), founder of GigaOM at SF Jazz Center

I had lots of great feedback this week from my participation on panel organized by Castlight Health, a San Francisco based startup focused on making healthcare choices easier for employees. Design is tremendously important when it comes to the complex subject of healthcare where employee decisions can have life or death outcomes. 

The GigaOm Roadmap conference had the theme of "Invisible Design" and my job on the Castlight panel was to provide some context and a long view from my perch as a Silicon Valley watcher, and my many years as a beat reporter covering enterprise tech.

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Dave Winer On Silicon Valley And Tech: 'Clowns To The Left Of Me, Jokers To The Right'

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Dave Winer is a serial innovator and father of the Blogosphere, if such a thing exists anymore. His recent post is one of his best. It's worth reading because he's a long-time Silicon Valley watcher and he brings his long experience with the tech industry to the article.

Stuck in the middle

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No Private Bus Or Free Lunch - Weber Shandwick Named A 'Best Place To Work'

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Updated: December 1 — PRWeek named Weber Shandwick a Best Place To Work 2014 - Large Agency, for the second year in a row.

I've been spending a lot of time in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood, working with teams on Weber Shandwick's Mediaco venture, which is helping companies become media companies.

This week Ad Age named Weber Shandwick as one of the best places to work. As an independent observer of only one large Weber Shandwick office, I can attest that everyone is hard driving but super nice with each other and with everyone else. 

I can also attest that there are no private buses whisking staff to work, there are no celebrity chefs in the office kitchens, and there's no free lunch or Blue Bottle coffee for the staff. Tech company HR managers would be aghast.

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News Is Not Free: Uber Exec's Threat Against Reporters Reflects Ugly Amoral Culture

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Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Photo: JD Lasicka

Uber senior executive Emil Michael's comments that journalists who criticize Uber should have their personal lives investigated and publicized has created yet another controversy for the ride hailing app startup.

Ben Smith at Buzzfeed reported:

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Mobile Media Decimation Prompts Say Media Sale

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Say Media, the San Francisco publisher of ReadWrite and many other sites, is looking for buyers for its titles as it pivots into a media technologies vendor.

Matt Sanchez, CEO said it was hard for the company to focus on two businesses: growing its media brands and developing media technologies for media companies such as its Tempest content management system.

 Lucia Moses at Digiday reported:

"When we launched Say, it was really about, how do you provide technology and services for independent media," [Matt Sanchez, CEO] said. "It was this vision of building the modern media company by building, partnering with and buying independent media companies, build the tech beneath it and think holistically about the entire media stack. We just came to the conclusion that it's very difficult to do both."

Platishers, beware: Say Media gives up on publishing - Digiday

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Weber Shandwick Partners With Niche For Social Media Traffic

Nathalie Tadena at the Wall Street Journal reports on Weber Shandwick's partnership with Niche, an aggregator of more than 5,000 "social media celebrities." 

Among the social media celebs in Niche's network with the biggest reach are Nash Grier, a teenage Vine star with nearly 25 million followers across his social media accounts, and singer Kevin Jonas, who has a total reach of more than 22 million users.

Each celebrity is a big media publisher in their own right and the deals brokered through Niche aren't simple sponsor or advertising opportunities, the "celebrities" will be paid to create the social media content for Weber's clients. 

Weber Shandwick's global president of digital Chris Perry... estimates about 15% to 20% of Weber Shandwick's PR programs involve social media influencers and that's growing fast, especially for consumer brand clients.

Read more: 

Weber Shandwick Partners with Niche to Tap Social Media Celebrities - CMO Today - WSJ

Foremski's Take: [I'm working with Weber Shandwick's Mediaco on an unrelated project.]

Partnerships such as this one are a smart way to jumpstart an audience for a brand if it's part of a long term strategy to build a loyal audience, it has to be more than just a three-month campaign.

Borrowing the audience of a "social media celebrity" is fine but at the end of the day companies need to learn how to become "celebrities" in their own right, they need to learn to become media companies with direct access to their own audiences, unmediated by Google or anyone.

Weber Shandwick's Mediaco group is worth watching because it is directly focused on helping "every company become a media company."  It's a trend I first spotted nearly ten years ago and it has now reached a tipping point influencing the content marketing initiatives of companies worldwide.

Media publishing success has the additional benefit of blocking attention to competitors. It's a killer competitive strategy -- if you aren't seen online you don't exist.

Tooling up for business...

There's tremendous business opportunities for PR and marketing agencies to capitalize on this trend, and there's opportunities for many others, too. For example, software developers of media technologies.

Corporations will need to equip themselves with an arsenal of media publishing platforms, apps, tools, analytics and infrastructure, all made complex by the fragmented nature of tens of millions of media channels; and made even more complex by the extraordinary two-way nature of our modern media: we can publish content to any screen and each screen -- pocket or desktop -- can publish back, through comments, video, clicks, silent cookies, etc.

Companies need to become good at interpreting and engaging with all that media feeding back to them, as well as know how to produce great media content. And they'll have to feed (and walk) that media beast every day. It won't be easy.

They'll need a lot of help from a lot of people. And hopefully, they won't have to relearn basic rules of ethics and best practices that we've accumulated in the media industry over hundreds of years.

The media is dying ... and growing

The old media might be dying out but before it disappears, it can teach the new media how to walk. It's an important lesson. 

We face a democratic crisis in that special interest groups will gladly pay for the media they want people to read but people won't pay for the independent media they should read.

Brands becoming media publishers will be tempted to skew things their way, all the way. But they should be careful because they will be subject to the same ethical scrutiny as a Wall Street Journal or any other media company. Learning to walk straight will be key.

Mediaco And Scalable Technologies Of Brand Publishing

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It might not seem surprising to my readers that I'm working on a project with Mediaco, a Weber Shandwick business that advertises, "We Help Every Company Become A Media Company.

Helping companies be great media companies is a noble calling these days, especially with the huge loss of skilled and experienced media professionals. There's hundreds of years of best practices that still apply regardless of paper and electron.

I'm working on an interesting project with Mediaco's West Coast lead Luca Penati and an enthusiastic team of professionals across many disciplines and locations.

This is what's needed in today's digital media worlds — the complexities of managing fragmented media channels and user interfaces across many devices requires integrated tech, media, design, SEO and communications professionals on the same publishing teams.

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Matt Taibbi Is A Rolling Stone - Exits Omidyar's $250m First Look Venture

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Matt Taibbi at a Commonwealth Club event in April 2014.

Former Rolling Stone feature writer Matt Taibbi has pulled out of a new publication funded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar's $250m First Look Media Group. The unnamed publication was due to be launched in the Fall and Taibbi's departure leaves an editorial team without its chief muckraker.

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St. Louis Spirit: Cortex Urban Research Park Bucks Tech Campus Trend

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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 Startup Spirit Of St. Louis - Building A Sustainable And Socially Conscious Tech Community

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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.

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Lessons From Richard Edelman's Decade As A Blogger

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Richard Edelman (center) at a Churchill Club event in February 2013.

Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman, the world's largest privately held PR firm, recently wrote about his "Decade of Blogging." His first post was September 29, just 10 days after my first post, which shows how early he began. 

There weren't many bloggers at the time, it was a tiny community and that's how I got to meet Richard Edelman. We were both bloggers. And we spoke the same language.

It takes a lot of courage for the leader of a large organization to jump into blogging, especially in 2004 when it was causing tremendous consternation in PR and corporate communications communities.  It's difficult to believe today but when I left the Financial Times to become a "journalist/blogger" in mid-2004, Intel held an emergency meeting to discuss how it should respond to "bloggers." 

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Bulldog Reporter Closes And The Changing Roles Of PR...

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Sam Whitmore of Sam Whitmore Media Survey, at The Palace Hotel in San Francisco.

Jack Odwyer reports that Bulldog Reporter, a service for PR agencies, has closed after 35 years in business. That's a shame because I've taken part in many Bulldog Reporter panels over the years and its team has done a great job educating PR people about the changes in media following the explosive rise of "blogging" in the mid-2000s – a confusing time for many people in communications.

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A Year Ago The Internet Lost A Chance To Disrupt A Truly Evil Global Industry

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In 2012, a 21 year old man was fatally injured in a drugs-related shooting near my home in San Francisco.

A year ago the FBI shut down the online illegal drugs market Silk Road. Jake Swearingen at The Atlantic, reports that so far, there's no successor among a motley collection of sites:

At DeepDotWeb, an anonymous editor chronicles everything darknet related . . . [He] predicts that the crazy explosion of smaller markets may be on the wane.

"The market was pretty stable for the last few month unlike first six months of 2014 . . . I believe that it will stay pretty much the same with some markets popping up and some shutting down from this reason or another until we will see some new technology—probably one that will offer decentralization of the markets."

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Silicon Valley's Future Depends On Innovation Beating Scale

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Foremski's Take: The acquisition of Tibco Software by Vista Equity Partners earlier this week, in a $4.3 billion deal, raises an important issue: can innovative companies survive long enough to become large companies? 

I meet very few startups that have the ambition to stay independent and challenge the dominant companies in their sector. (Delphix is the exception.) Is it a lack of ambition or simply a realistic assessment of their future? Tibco was certainly ambitious and innovative but it struggled for years to grow amid huge competitors.

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NYTimes Cutting 100 Jobs As Apps And Native Ads Fail To Stem Losses

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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

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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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Ribbit: Google's Never Ending European Problems...Can It Change Its Nature?

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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

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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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Intel Developer Forum In Images...And Backpacks

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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 v Apple: Tech Journalism Or Product Reporting?

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.

Is Robert Scoble Still A Blogger?

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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

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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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Malwarebytes' CEO Is A Startup Veteran At 24

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

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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?

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

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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:

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

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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:

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Berkeley Memorial For Its 'Fearless Scientist' Alexander Shulgin - Psychedelic Drug Creator And Activist

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Saturday, August 2, there was a memorial service for Berkeley-born chemist Alexander Shulgin, who died recently aged 88. Mike Power, reporting for the Guardian newspaper (above) described his work as "fearless" because 

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Analysis: No 'Magic App' For Journalism As Omidyar's $250m First Look Venture Takes A Second Look

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Former Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi will launch a satirical online magazine for First Look Media.

Pierre Omidyar, the co-founder of eBay, has delayed the roll-out of his $250m First Look Media venture.

In a blog post, Omidyar wrote:

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San Francisco's Extraordinary Media Heritage - 12 Daily Newspapers

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SF historian Gary Kamiya signing a copy of his book "Cool Gray City of Love."

San Francisco's transformation into a bedroom community for Silicon Valley's business parks is a huge mistake because tech companies should be exposing their people to the city's rich diversity and its incredible culture, a history steeped in more than 150 years of media innovations.

San Francisco historian Gary Kamiya, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, tells the story of San Francisco's early newspapers (and the passionate duels using the pen and the gun):

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The Media Industry Is Blind, Dumb And Dumber: Daylight Robbery - Billions Stolen

The media industry, including digital media companies, is breathtakingly silent on the issue of advertising fraud.

What other industry would sit quietly while being robbed in broad daylight on such a massive scale? As huge as $6 billion to an astounding $16 billion a year is being siphoned away from the media industry through fraudulent advertising methods.

Why isn't the media industry screaming mad about this?! Instead it is blind, dumb, and dumber about this issue.

The media industry needs to band together to stop ad fraud today. It should insist that its advertisers, the big brands, sign a pledge not to support ad fraud and only advertise on real media sites.

It's in the advertisers' interests to support a healthy independent media sector staffed by professionals producing quality content on which their ads will perform fabulously. It's a virtuous circle that keeps producing professional quality media.

But what we have instead, is a race to the bottom as quality of media goes down on falling ad revenues and advertising performance plunges. 

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Tales From Off-The-Bus: Original Ideas Come From Original Experiences...

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I'm adamant that San Francisco shouldn't be allowed to be made into a bedroom community for Silicon Valley's business parks. Original ideas require original experiences and companies should take advantage of that and not force their staff onto a bus and ship them to a central holding facility for the day.

San Francisco offers a treasure trove of original experiences. Silicon Valley staff should be told to stay off the bus, telecommute, and get out and about. It'll generate new experiences and possibly new ideas. The same experience every day, waiting for your cubicle to pick you up, won't generate anything new.

Why do we have hundreds of To-Do list apps, Email managers, calendars, get-food-delivered apps...? There's a cornucopia of mundane and me-too apps. Original ideas come from original experiences. Watching the world on Youtube or from a bus window doesn't work. You have to be in it which is a good thing.

By staying off the bus the tech workers become integrated into their neighborhoods. If they stay off the bus their neighbors might even get to know them.

City or company culture?

Inclusion works better for communities than division. The tech workers might even notice some city problems and come up with an app for that.

Separation works better for establishing company culture and that's why Google and the others do it. It never used to be cool to be seen as a "company man" or woman. Eating at the company store and hanging with the company all day, and only using company services. That's a cultural win for Google et al, because that was not considered remotely cool for many decades.

Can the needs of corporate culture trump community culture? Maybe, but in the long term community needs will always win out over the demands of company culture and that's what city officials will ultimately choose. Because company culture is in its very nature and reason for existence, divisive and not inclusive. That's not a good thing especially for a city, where every kind of people have to live together and learn how to sort out problems together.

[London is an excellent example of how the culture has managed to teach people from so many countries, how to peacefully live together, marry together, and create a future together. The UK media deserves much of the credit.]

Please see:  

San Francisco's Incredible History Of Media Innovation -SVW

 San Francisco's Culture War With Silicon Valley's Cubicle Culture -SVW

San Francisco: An Epicenter Of Creativity -SVW

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Ray Zinn: 'Do The Hard Things First' - Advice From Silicon Valley's Longest Serving CEO

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A massive metal cast of a sailfish seems to soar out of the desk of Ray Zinn, Silicon Valley's longest serving CEO, founder of Micrel [MCRL:NASDAQ GS], a leading chip company that produces essential components for smartphones, consumer electronics and enterprise networks. 

At 76, he's been running Micrel since its creation in 1978. In 2014 Micrel celebrates 20 years as a public company and a highly profitable one for its long-term shareholders.

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Here's What's Missing In Content Marketing: Content As A Service

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David Matahai, Director of Marketing Communications at Hyundai.

Every company is a media company because it has to be, because the traditional media outlets no longer have the means, or pageviews to help tell the stories of companies, and their communities. 

The explosion of content marketing is proof that the concept of 'every company is a media company' is becoming understood by the mainstream. It is resulting in a tidal wave of media content about companies, commissioned by the companies themselves.

However, this is nothing to do with being a media company. Media companies don't write or produce media about themselves. What do media companies do?

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The Media's 2nd Apocalypse: The Nightmare Rise Of Mobile Tech

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The huge challenge facing media companies as readers shift to mobile platforms, is far worse than is generally known. 

Say Media, an online publisher and advertising network based in San Francisco, last year reported that mobile ads generate just one-fifth the revenue of a desktop ad. It's become even worse.

An industry source with access to massive amounts of advertising data tells me mobile ads are a disaster for media companies. He has seen detailed reports from large publishers and ad networks that show advertising on mobile platforms is generating as little as one-tenth the revenue compared with desktop advertising.

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Content Marketing: Don't Trust SEO — Publish Content For People And Not Robots

There's a huge quality mismatch between content created for SEO purposes, and human edited content. With an explosion of content marketing — it is vital to understand the difference.

Every company is a media company and now every company wants content to publish but how do they judge if it's any good?  

On the blog of Virante, an SEO marketing agency, Russ Jones provides a case study on how to determine the quality of three separate articles on the same subject, produced by writers at services such as WriterAccess, TextBroker, and ContentRunner: 

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SVForum Visionary Tim O'Reilly Calls On Tech Community To Help Government

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Tim O'Reilly, one of the recipients of SVForum's 2014 Visionary Awards, called for the tech community to give back and help government with its use of IT. He also urged more recognition for "people who make a difference" instead of people that make money.

He is the founder of O'Reilly Media, a very successful computer book publisher and conference organizer. He was speaking at SVForum's 2014 Visionary Awards in Los Altos Hills, an upscale suburb of Silicon Valley. Fellow recipients were Jessica Jackley, founder of Kiva; Tina Selig, the head of the entrepreneurship center at Stanford University; and Tim Draper, partner at Draper Fisher Jurvetson, one of Silicon Valley's oldest VC firms.

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'Sharing' Is Not An Economy - But Renting Is - The Disruptive Power Of A True Sharing Network

The article "The Case Against Sharing" by Susie Cagle is a good vehicle for her cartoons and a soft critique of the "sharing economy" based on the recent Share conference organized by the lobbying group Peers.

Peers is funded by more than 22 companies that include its founder Airbnb, Lyft, TaskRabbit, and others – to "protect the sharing economy." Natalie Foster, the CEO of Peers, has her work cut out because it's not protection that is needed but rather legalization, a much tougher job. She has said many times that the biggest issue with the sharing economy is that it is not legal.

Despite this simple fact, VCs have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into "sharing" startups. All that capital carries the substantial risk that laws won't be repealed or modified. Especially if legitimate businesses lobby to protect themselves from what is clearly illegal competition.

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Mobile: The Media Industry's Death Card In Mary Meeker's Internet Deck

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Former Wall Street analyst Mary Meeker this week published her annual analysis of Internet trends and market projections. It's useful data especially all the charts and numbers which are often reused in tens of thousands of startup business plans.

The section that interests me the most is in mobile media and mobile advertising because there is a massive revenue chasm for media companies in the rush to mobile.

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Dressing Too Colorfully - Conversations Among Women In Tech

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Salon host Vanessa Camones reaches for the microphone...

Earlier this week the conversations at the SF Curators Media Salon focused on the topic of women in tech. Vanessa Camones and her team at theMIX Agency hosted the event and organized the speakers: Julie Ann Horvath of GitHub fame; Collen Taylor from Techcrunch, Leah Hunter from Fast Company, Sepideh Nasiri from Women 2.0, and Jennifer Lankford from Orchestrate.io.

SF Creators Salons are less about podiums and more about peers, so the conversation moved quickly around the room. It was great to hear women talking about these issues and to hear stories of workplace behaviors that should be cast into the history books of the twentieth century and not 2014 — well into the second decade of the twenty-first century.

I was astounded by some of the criticism male management had leveled against women: Too colorful, too passionate, too girly.

At times I felt like a fly on the wall and happy to be such a creature because I was hearing real things said openly and  passionately. It was a conversation that other men should hear because it was a real talk about workplace issues between women of many ages, there was about four decades of workplace experiences being shared. 

Foremski's Take

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Malcolm Gladwell's David And Goliath - A Tale Of A New Rules Enterprise...

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I had the pleasure of moderating a conversation with Malcolm Gladwell at a breakfast for top tech executives attending Gainsight's  Pulse 2014 conference in San Francisco.

Gladwell said that over the years he has come to appreciate the importance of Geoffrey Moore's classic marketing book "Crossing the Chasm." 

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Opposition To Native Ads Was Factor In Firing Of New York Times' Top Editor

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There is a fascinating account of the firing of Jill Abramson, New York Times' executive editor, reported by Ken Auletta at The New Yorker. She was the first woman in the top job replacing Bill Keller but was sacked after less than three years.

Just before her firing she had made herself very unpopular with the management of the newspaper — publisher  Arthur Sulzberger and CEO Mark Thomson — over her opposition to native advertising, a form of advertising that looks like news stories in the newspaper:

 

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The Economics Of A Free Lunch: Settlement Hides How Silicon Valley's Richest Companies Conspired Against Their Workers

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1, Hacker Way, Facebook HQ - It refused to join the conspiracy.

I'm surprised there hasn't been more outrage at Silicon Valley's richest and most successful companies secretly conspiring against their own staff. Especially when they constantly talk about how they value their engineers(!)

It's a shame the class action settlement won't reveal the true nature of their duplicity. From today's New York Times, David Streitfeld reports: 

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SVForum: Rejuvenating One Of Silicon Valley's Oldest Organizations

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I recently met with Adiba Barney, the new head of Silicon Valley Forum (SVForum), a 30 year old association that is probably best known for its annual Visionary Awards, and by its former name, SDForum (Software Developer Forum).

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You Have To See This: Centro's CEO On The Business Case For Happiness

This video is superb and I can't stop playing it: Shawn Riegsecker, CEO and founder of Centro, explains at a 2013 TechWeek event in Chicago, why he focused his company's culture on the happiness of its employees.

It's working: Centro has become a giant in the hot ad tech sector. With more than 500 staff and over $300m in revenues it is Chicago's fastest growing tech company. 

His staff attrition rate is an unbelievable 4% a year. He has no HR problems. Centro has now won "Best place to work" four years in a row -- no company has ever won the accolade twice in a row, in any city.

Please see: Centro: Chicago's Ad Tech Giant Aims To Revive Journalism -SVW

Centro: Chicago's Ad Tech Giant Aims To Revive Journalism

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I recently met with Shawn Riegsecker, the CEO and founder of Centro, a large ad network and technology company based in Chicago. It's doing extremely well but there's been shockingly little coverage of the company -- even in Chicago. 

Centro has been profitable for more than a decade and has revenues of about $300 million a year, with more than 500 staff. Riegsecker is very driven to help reverse the shrinking fortunes of the media industry, and journalism in particular,  by helping publishers rebuild revenues.

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Celebrating The Life Of Daniel Jabbour: An Intersection Of Psychedelics, Activism And Technology

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The Psychedelic Society of San Francisco announced the sudden death of its 30 year old founder, Daniel Jabbour, a well known software engineer and political activist. 

There will be a memorial celebration April 19th at 11.30 AM at Hippie Hill in Golden Gate Park.

Daniel founded the society in November 2011 and it currently has 1674 members. There's a strong connection between psychedelics and Silicon Valley, please see: The Steve Jobs Way: Intersecting Psychedelics And Technology -SVW

Daniel was a passionate political activist on drug policy and spoke at many events. There are videos of his talks on his channel:  Daniel Jabbour - YouTube

Daniel loved volunteering with “Hack the Future,” an organization that teaches kids to code. Here's an account of Daniel at the most recent Hack the Future event, written by one of his colleagues at Amoeba Consulting, where Daniel worked. 

The event was held in the brand new tech studio, a "hands on" discovery area at The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose. The event brought together a hundred kids with makers throughout Silicon Valley including programmers, game developers, designers, web developers and engineers.

Amoeboid Daniel Jabbour led the web and javascript table- helping kids to get into programming. He supplied them with some basic project starting points and let them discover for themselves what they could accomplish with programming by designing their own blogs and games such as pong and chess. Daniel commented, "for me, it was so fun to help a table full of kids write pong, in javascript, in an afternoon... sitting a hundred feet away from the creator of Pong, Al Alcorn (another mentor at the event)."

Throughout the day, they guided kids through the design process, and helped with whatever they wanted to design- from defining the problems, thinking about their users, coming up with design goals, ideating, sketching, to rapid prototyping for both product and application designs.

Such a great day...

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CultureWatch: The Fading Fashion Of Google Glass - Too Gauche For Social



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Sarah Slocum’s recent experience at Molotov’s, a lower Haight Street bar where an irate drinker snatched her Google Glass off her face, did a lot to boost her popularity as TV and newspapers covered the incident. But the association with someone who called the incident a hate crime,  has not been good for Google Glass.

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Victoria Espinel - Leading The Fight Against Bad Laws Restricting Digital Technologies

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Victoria Espinel, the recently appointed head of BSA | The Software Alliance (formerly Business Software Alliance) visited San Francisco recently to gauge the mood of Silicon Valley towards software patents and intellectual property laws in the US and around the world.

Based in Washington, D.C, Espinel served in the Obama administration as the first US Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, and worked in the Bush administration in senior positions in the Office of the US Trade Representative.

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Matt Taibbi: 'Emotional Language' Is Important In Reporting Outrageous Events

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Clara Jeffrey, Co-Editor, Mother Jones interviews Matt Taibbi.

Matt Taibbi, the former Wall Street beat reporter for Rolling Stone, and now heading a digital magazine for Pierre Omidyar’s First Look Media, spoke at the Commonwealth Club’s Inforum event Thursday in San Francisco.

Taibbi was promoting his book, “The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap” described by Timothy Noah in the New York Times, “as infuriating as it is impossible to put down.” Here are some of my notes from the evening: 

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Gild Says Algorithms Can Lift People Out Of Poverty

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I had a fascinating conversation recently with Vivienne Ming, Chief Scientist at Gild, a San Francisco based company that scans the Internet to identify potentially great software engineers for their clients.

Finding good talent is incredibly hard especially software engineers but Gild says its algorithms can identify people with the right fit, in qualifications and also in cultural fit, sometimes in places where companies wouldn’t think of looking.

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Content Marketing Problems Will Lead To A Revived Media Industry

“Every company is a media company,” which is why there is a deluge of content marketing as companies struggle to produce media and build an audience.

A new media publication typically budgets at least two years to develop a solid readership and it will take years more to fully build a trusted relationship. When I interviewed Shelby Bonnie, CEO of CNET’s 10-year old News.com in 2004, he said he likely needed another ten years to fully establish the brand.

How long will it take companies to establish a media brand? 

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The News Is Not Free: 14 Journalists Murdered in 2014

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KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — An Afghan police commander opened fire Friday on two Associated Press journalists inside a security forces base in eastern Afghanistan, killing prize-winning photographer Anja Niedringhaus and wounding veteran correspondent Kathy Gannon.

Niedringhaus, 48, who had covered conflict zones from the Balkans in the 1990s to Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan and was part of a team of AP photographers who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2005, died instantly of her wounds.

AP photographer killed, reporter wounded 

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San Francisco's First Look At New Microsoft CEO

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It was “Day 52” for Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and his first visit to San Francisco as head of the software giant. The local media were out in full to see him as he introduced Office on the iPad, and speak about the importance of Microsoft’s “Mobile First” and “Cloud First” strategies.

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When Every Company Is A Media Company: Content Marketing's Massive Blunder

When I first introduced the concept of every company is a media company in 2005 there were very few people that understood what this meant. Today it's an accepted fact and it's why there's a massive surge in what's called content marketing.

With so few media professionals around to help tell a company's stories it makes sense for companies to try to tell their own stories and get them out online and into the many communities that matter to them. That was the prime reason Intel launched Intel Free Press, to make sure that key stories about Intel would be told and published in a professional manner. 

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PR's Next Big Challenge: Tooling Up For The War With Ad Agencies

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Richard Edelman (right) with Steve Barrett, Editor-in-Chief of PR Week, at a Churchill Club event in 2013.

Can PR companies “Show Up Differently” as Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman, the world’s largest privately held PR firm, wrote in his New Year’s rally cry for his troops? 

Edelman understands that PR agencies will need to show up differently if they are to win against the advertising agencies. 

My post this week about the lack of automation technologies in PR is directly related to this coming confrontation. There’s a great business opportunity for PR agencies to compete for  lucrative advertising budgets — if they can prove  performance with solid metrics and at scale.

The pitch is easy: “Spending money on PR is more effective than on advertising, especially with the billions of dollars lost to ad fraud. We help you build lasting relationships instead of fleeting ad impressions.” 

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Nielsen Study Finds Very Poor Performance For Branded Content

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Nielsen this week released the results of a multi-month study on consumer brand awareness and buying decisions. The study, commissioned by San Francisco-based InPowered, found that consumers rely on online content five times more than five years ago and that they overwhelmingly seek trusted content written by unbiased, independent authors.

 The results paint a poor picture for the performance of content marketing by brands, and new trends such as native advertising, which seeks to look similar to trusted content. Here are some of the findings:

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Here's How To Put Billions Back Into The Media Industry Overnight

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Suzanne Vranica at the Wall Street Journal reported that between $6 billion and $18 billion is stolen every year in the US  because of ad fraud.  The Secret About Online Ad Traffic: One-Third Is Bogus - WSJ.com

The fraudsters erect sites with phony traffic and collect payments from advertisers through the middlemen who aggregate space across many sites and resell the space for most Web publishers. 

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Can PR Be Automated? The Technologies Of Promotion Are On Their Way...

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The media industry has been dragged kicking and screaming into the modern world and forced to adopt new media technologies and drastically overhaul its operations.

The successful new media model is a combination of three components: professional media, user generated media, and smart machine media (e.g., automated news aggregation).

Buzzfeed is an example of this trinity: it has top journalists producing original content; it makes great use of social media; and it has a tech platform that leverages the algorithms of distributors such as Facebook and Twitter.

Forbes is another example of a large media company with professional journalists, user generated articles, and a good technology platform.

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Remembering IDG's Gentle Media Giant Pat McGovern

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Time’s Harry McCracken has written a wonderful column remembering Patrick McGovern, one of the most successful publishers of the past 50 years, and a huge proponent of tech when it was a far smaller world. He died this week at Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto.

I met him in 2009 (above) and was incredibly flattered when he sought me out to talk about how his publishing group IDG was successfully managing its digital transformation. It was just the two of us talking for a couple of hours in his hotel room at the Fairmont. I was very impressed by his intelligence and his gentle manner.  He invited me to visit him and also tour his medical research center.

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SF Creators Salon: Rediscovering The Lessons Of Trust And Independent Media

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The recent SF Creators Salon focused on the topic of trust and content marketing and as usual, it was a lively evening hosted at InPowered’s community space in San Francisco.

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The Curious Case Of LonelyGirl15... Trust Issues In Content Marketing

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The BBC recently asked permission to use this story as a case study for an upcoming programme, Silicon Valley Watcher's discovery of the identity of LonelyGirl15.

At the end of the summer of 2006 we had the biggest story in the US: Silicon Valley Watcher discovered the true identity of LonelyGirl15 (above) -- an anonymous 15 year-old video blogger called Bree, that had amassed a staggering number of viewers on Youtube over several months -- but no one knew who she was. The media was obsessed with her and questioning is she is real or fake?

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Andreessen's News Media Analysis Ridiculed - Updated

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Above, right, Marc Andreessen shares a joke with Jeff Immelt from GE.

Updated with a post from Frédéric Filloux writing on Monday Note.

Marc Andreessen is famous as an extremely successful investor in Silicon Valley startups and that means he knows a thing or two about a thing or two but probably not the business of news. His recent analysis of the news media business has not impressed those in the news business. 

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Scoop! NASDAQ Finally Launches Private Company Market

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It’s taken a while to do it but finally NASDAQ Private Market has launched  as a “new capital marketplace for private companies.

I had the scoop on this back in late 2012. Robert McCooey (above), NASDAQ’s senior vice president of capital markets and new listings, told Silicon Valley Watcher about the plans. Exclusive: NASDAQ Plans To Unify Private Shares Markets.

http://www.siliconvalleywatcher.com/mt/archives/2012/10/exclusive_nasda.php

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Early Tech Journalist Dan Farber Leaves CBS/CNET

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I’m republishing my recent profile and tribute to Dan Farber following his announcement a “New morning.

After more than 30 years working for various media companies as a writer, reporter, blogger, editor, designer, spellchecker, talking head, photographer, coach, I am leaving the nest. Today is my last day at CBS/CNET/ZDNet.

It was a great journey, one path always leading to another, working with talented, dedicated people, blazing trails on the front lines of the Internet revolution.

The journey and revolution continues, and I will be looking to help others on the path.

I find it hard to believe Dan will leave journalism — it’s in his blood — you can’t just walk away from it. I know he’s working on a book or two and I bet he gets roped into a few media projects (I’ve got a couple of ideas :).

Plus, he’s not going away. He lives about an hour north of San Francisco so he’s very accessible, and I intend to make an occasional nuisance of myself.

Here is my recent profile from mid-January: CBS/CNET's Dan Farber: One Of The First Tech Journalists

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Living In The Shadow Of The Googleplex: The Takeover Of Mountain View

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Sean Hollister reporting for The Verge, has written an excellent article about Google’s ambitious plans for expansion in Mountain View, where it is now the largest employer with almost 10% of the local workforce.

Welcome to Googletown | The Verge

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Native Advertising And Trust - Goal Is To Mislead Readers

Bob Garfield, co-host of On the Media on NPR, wrote a column in The Guardian newspaper critical of native advertising: If native advertising is so harmless, why does it rely on misleading readers?

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2014 Edelman Trust Barometer: Tech Industry Risks Loss Of Trust As Government Trust Plunges To Record Levels

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The 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer, a global survey of 27,000 people in 27 countries, found that trust in government has fallen to its lowest levels, and the gap between business and government trust has never been wider, at 14 points globally, and 21 points in the US.

The tech industry maintains its lead as the most trusted at 79% but there are problems ahead. The survey shows strong support for businesses that pay their taxes, and that are able to advocate for social missions -- in addition to making money. 

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Photo Essay: A Night At The Crunchies...

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Salesforce's Benioff Warns Of More Civil Disobedience, Has A Plan To 'Fix San Francisco'

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It’s good to see Marc Benioff, CEO of San Francisco’s largest tech firm, Salesforce and a fourth generation San Franciscan, stepping into a leadership role to calm community conflict over the tech commuter buses and the increasing seclusion of the city’s tech community.

Wall Street Journal’s Evelyn Rusli, interviewed Benioff last week: Salesforce CEO Benioff on How to Fix San Francisco - Digits - WSJ

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Original Ideas In Silicon Valley Are Like Bitcoins

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I’ve started noticing some correlations between Bitcoins and original ideas in Silicon Valley, which are the necessary sparks of innovation. 

Few new Bitcoins are being produced because miners have minted all the easy ones. Original ideas are increasingly rare in Silicon Valley because the easy innovations, such as selling music online, or shoes, have been taken. 

Original ideas come from original experiences, just as each Bitcoin is mined, by being the first to find a unique answer.

Original experiences are those that are found as unfiltered, and untainted by other people’s opinions, curations, and search engines, as possible.  

Original ideas are as disruptive as Bitcoin is in its world, and there is a small number of them.

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Is Our Technology Making Us Autistic? Be Here Right Now...

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This ad for  Autism Speaks at a San Francisco bus stop reminded me of an excerpt from an article written by Curt Woodward, senior editor at  Xconomy, about the lack of eye-contact within Google’s top echelon:

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Holmes Report's Innovation Summit Recognizes Innovators In PR And Media

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David Matahai, Director of Marketing Communications at Hyundai.

Holmes Report conferences are rapidly becoming my favorite conferences and last week’s Innovation Summit in San Francisco was excellent — and not just because I won a top 25 Innovator award for my “Every company is a media company” thought leadership.

The quality of the attendees was excellent with top PR executives from some of the largest agencies and there were many interesting panels. And I had lots of great conversations in the hallways, which is always the mark of a good conference.

I was very pleased with the response to the panel I was on, with lots of people telling me it was one of the best. As an outsider, and as a journalist, it’s easier for me to cut through to the chase because I don’t have a vested interest in protecting any specific type of PR program, or ride along with whatever the current bandwagon is promoting. 

Just over a year ago I was in Miami at a Holmes Report conference speaking on a panel about Brand Journalism and it was great. It quickly turned into a big discussion about corporate media and we made so much noise people from other conference sessions were coming over to join us.

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Analysis: Larry Page's Smashed Handset Strategy - Google Ends Bid To Be Apple

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Google’s handset strategy lies smashed. 

Google sells its handset business at a huge loss and helps Lenovo finance the deal. It ends an expensive chapter in Google’s attempts to diversify from publishing ads. 

Lenovo agrees to buy Google’s Motorola handset business for $2.91B. Larry Dignan and Zack Whittaker at ZDNet report:

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Marc Benioff's Leadership Opportunity - How To Live Well And Do Right

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Marc Benioff is the CEO and founder of San Francisco’s largest technology company, Salesforce; he’s a 4th generation San Franciscan; and he’s a top philanthropist in his own community.

He’s perfectly positioned to help heal the rift between locals and the tech workers, and he’s able to teach tech companies about philanthropy, especially where it counts the most, in your local communities.

Corporate social responsibility used to be important but it’s fallen off dramatically since 2004 and Google’s IPO. Benioff can bring it back into view as an imperative function that every company must have, because it motivates workers and creates meaning. And it feels good.  

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Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff: 'We need to create a new San Francisco'

Bravo to Marc Benioff, a fourth generation San Franciscan, in calling out tech firms “making billions of dollars” and challenging them to give something back.

He was quoted by Jon Swartz at USAToday: Commentary: Tech's growing problem in San Francisco

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Introducing A Media Display Technology Without Equal

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If paper were announced today, as an alternative technology to digital screens, its tech specs would be madly impressive. Paper is a media technology without equal:

- Imagine a lightweight display as thin as a single hair, capable of displaying high resolution color images.

- It's always on and more than one hundred of these paper displays can be stacked together into a $5 information appliance (called a magazine, or book). 

- Each display is flexible, tearable, and can be folded into a myriad of origami forms.

- It is very green. It is constructed from a sustainable substrate that is 100% recyclable.

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Does Silicon Valley R-e-s-p-e-c-t Its Engineers? Top Firms Shun Engineering Legends

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The engineering and design teams that built the first Macintosh computer pose for a photo.

Saturday evening at the Flint Center in Cupertino there was a marvelous celebration of the pioneering work of the engineering hardware and software teams that built the first Apple Macintosh launched 30 years ago.

This was most definitely not an official Apple event. Its purpose was to focus on the engineers that built a truly ground breaking computer, the first mainstream computer with a graphical user interface. 

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San Francisco: An Epicenter Of Creativity

San Francisco is different from Silicon Valley in very important ways: it has always produced great media content — and the city itself is great content —  starring in movies, photos, books, and songs. It inspires creativity.

Silicon Valley produces the tools that enable others to create but it itself is not an inspiring or creative place. Its architecture is plain; it’s workers dress plainly; and its ambitions are plain dull— to make lots of money.

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San Francisco's Culture War With Silicon Valley's Cubicle Culture

The protests over the giant corporate buses that cruise menacingly around San Francisco’s streets is not really about the buses. It’s a culture war: SF culture clashing with corporate culture.

The conformity of Silicon Valley’s corporate culture is polar opposite to the non-conformist traditions of San Francisco. 

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San Francisco's Incredible History Of Media Innovation

 

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The tower of the copper-clad de Young museum in Golden Gate park.

San Francisco has been at the epicenter of more than just earthquakes, it has a long tradition of being at the forefront of the media industry stretching back to the gold rush.

It’s where massive newspaper fortunes were started by newspaper magnates such as M.H. de Young, and more famously, William Randolph Hearst. Hearst got his start in the newspaper business in 1887 at the San Francisco Examiner, which competed against de Young’s San Francisco Chronicle. 

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In2 Innovation Panel: 'Smash the Agrarian Clock and Other Innovation Mandates'

I’ll be speaking January 23 (tomorrow) at 1pm at the Holmes Report’s In2 Innovation Summit in San Francisco on a panel discussing: “Smash the Agrarian Clock and Other Innovation Mandates.” 

When 22 year olds can call the shots, the office hours can't be 9am-7pm, and 'always on' is the cost of entry if you want an innovative environment. This talk is all about bending the rules of the game, challenging the old ways and daring to evoke real innovation by provoking new behaviors. 

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Inside The Tech Cult: How Silicon Valley Companies Isolate Their Workers

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San Francisco is rapidly polarizing against its tech workers as protests mount about shuttle bus use, and a huge rise in rents and evictions.

There would be less of a problem if tech workers were known in their communities but they aren’t. I know only one Google worker outside of my work circle and I have a large social circle of non-techies built over two decades.

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The Indifference Of Tech Companies That Make A Difference


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A mural in the Mission district of San Francisco offers a message of integration.

The indifference of tech companies that make a difference — to the plight of their local communities — is astounding. San Francisco and Silicon Valley schools and neighborhoods suffer from the very same problems that affect schools and cities everywhere.

Tech companies such as Google, don’t see a contradiction in their claims of making a transformative difference in the world — but not in the places where they live. 

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Is Segregation The New 'Gentrification'? SF Sweeps Locals From Twitter's Doorstep

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Heather Knight’s report on SFGate.com highlights the plight of local people forced off Mid-Market Street by police. 

Swept off Mid-Market, S.F.'s homeless cluster nearby - SFGate

Police Chief Greg Suhr said the influx of homeless people into neighborhoods around Market Street is to be expected - if they're moved off the main drag, they have to go somewhere.

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CBS/CNET's Dan Farber: One Of The First Tech Journalists

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Richard Edelman's 'Show Up Differently' - A Rally Cry In PR's War With Advertising

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Richard Edelman (right) with Steve Barrett, Editor-in-Chief of PR Week, at a Churchill Club event in 2013.

The advertising industry is going through big changes and that means opportunities for PR firms to compete for large marketing budgets normally allocated for advertising.

PR agencies have a window of opportunity while the advertising industry is distracted in a wave of consolidation, such as the huge Omnicom and Publicis merger; and the agencies are distracted with responding to disruptive trends, such as algorithmic ad buying.

This is a very good time for the PR industry to move against the ad agencies. But with what? How?

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Christmas Day On Twitter's Street - The Not-So-Sunny Side Of SF's Tech Boom

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Outside the golden doors of Twitter’s mid-Market Street HQ is a far different world from the thousands of coddled tech workers that live inside, with free food, free laundry, free apartment cleaning, and the freedom to come and go home.

Here’s a photo essay from a walk down the not-so-sunny-side of Twitter’s street I took on Christmas Day with Ann Garrison, a reporter for KPFA news. 

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Native Ads Are The Worst Idea In The World - NYTimes Is Clueless

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Native advertising is the world’s worst idea and I can’t believe the New York Times management is so gullible and clueless in agreeing to its publication. 

Gullible — because they were talked into giving away their hard won position as the nation’s top newspaper by marketing people looking for short-term gains.

Clueless — because they can’t see the stupidity of their actions and how they’ve shot themselves in the foot, groin, and brains.

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Segregation Of Tech Workers Leads To Mistrust And Conflict

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Above, a newspaper on a San Francisco street.

Google has responded to protests about its large fleet of buses clogging city streets with plans to use a high speed ferry service for its employees in San Francisco. And city administrators hope to alleviate some complains by charging for the use of bus zones.

Google, and other companies using San Francisco bus zones to pick up workers, will pay $1 per day per bus stop. About $1m a year will be generated but this will not provide extra city funds for anything other than enforcement and administration of the program. 

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Thank You Holmes Report For Naming Tom Foremski A Top 25 Innovator

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I hate blowing my own horn but I’d like to thank The Holmes Report for recognizing my work and naming me one of the top 25 innovators of 2013

Aarti Shah wrote:

For having the foresight to see that every company is a media company even before the content craze took hold. For being the PR industry’s Silicon Valley ally, sounding the alarm for industry disruption and plainly pointing to pockets of new opportunities. And for being among the first brave journalists to take the leap from the analog to the digital realm even when the model was still half-baked, at best.

It hasn’t been easy work so it’s very gratifying to be noticed by an organization such as The Holmes Report. It has a great team that keeps a close eye on what’s happening in PR and media. I spoke at one of its conferences in October 2012 as a guest of Lewis PR and it was one of my best experiences of the year. 

CES: How Did Tech Journalism Turn Into Product Reporting?

This week all the tech sites and newspaper tech sections will be full of stories about mass produced consumer electronics products being exhibited at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Some sites will claim scoops because they were the first to publish a list of tech specs for a product. All sites will report the color, the dimensions and the weight of products. How did tech journalism become tedious product reporting?

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2014: How Can Tech Help Create A Meaningful Life?

Pixels and speeds are meaningless tech specs. How to live a meaningful life is the best metric that our use of technology can provide. Our challenge is how do we harness tech to achieve it?

2014 is where we need to start answering this riddle. E-commerce and e-marketing are just the first step. We have plenty of tech – the second step is how do we use it for the best outcomes for all? How will peoples’ use of tech transform lives and communities?

These will be the best stories in 2014 and beyond.

2013: A Year Of Disappointments In Tech And Media

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Over at Quartz, Christopher Mims reports that 2013 was a lost year for tech:

2013 was an embarrassment for the entire tech industry and the engine that powers it—Silicon Valley. Innovation was replaced by financial engineering, mergers and acquisitions, and evasion of regulations. Not a single breakthrough product was unveiled—and for reasons outlined below, Google Glass doesn’t count. 

Om Malik over at tech news site GigaOM disagrees: Dear Quartz, maybe it’s you that needs new glasses and a map. 2013 was not a lost year for tech — Tech News and Analysis

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Blogging's Massive Failure To Topple Mass Media

Om Malik, publisher of GigaOm, recently posted some thoughts about his 12 years of blogging and he came to the conclusion that blogs today are where he can aggregate all his fractured expressions across the web: Instagram photos, articles, comments, and whimsical musings.

But he writes, “The concept of blogging as we knew it has lost some of its meaning and even a bit of meaningfulness.” It certainly has and Om is being too gentle in his criticism because blogging has fallen very far from the promise it once had, and in attaining real meaningfulness.

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'Shame On Feinstein' Coalition Warns Of Silicon Valley Economic Impact From NSA Spying

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Some of the organizers of the "Shame on Feinstein" coalition.

On the day celebrating the Bill of Rights, a coalition of San Francisco and Bay Area activists groups and lawyers, issued an open letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein, strongly rebuking her for not providing essential oversight over NSA spying, from her position as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and demanding she resign.

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Doug Engelbart Lives On - A Celebration Of His Life And Unfinished Work

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Stewart Brand speaking about Doug Engelbart - at Computer History Museum.

This week marked the anniversary of a groundbreaking 1968 lecture by computer pioneer Doug Engelbart and colleagues at SRI International, that changed the lives of those that were there, and even changed the lives of those that heard about it from others that were there.

Several hundred people gathered at the Computer History Museum for an evening program of tributes and discussion of Engelbart’s genius, and to raise money for the continuation of his work. He was born in 1925 and died earlier this year.

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The Motorized Standing Desk - The Iconic Symbol Of This Startup Boom

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In the late 1990s , the Herman Miller Aeron chair (below) became the symbol of the startup boom because it seemed that every startup office had them. They weren't cheap, around $900 each, but they were, and still are, very stylish. Nobody knew at the time that chairs were silent killers.

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Coca-Cola Digital Chief Says 'Kill The Press Release'

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Thanks Bill Sledzik! It’s interesting to see that others sometimes agree with me :)

From Ragan: Coca-Cola digital chief: ‘Kill the press release’

Cowardly Attack On Marc Benioff's Philanthropy

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An anonymous (cowardly) post on Valleywag pokes fun at Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, for talking about his philanthropic works at his annual Dreamforce conference.

He is called a “buffoon” because of his “phony philanthropy” and other terrible things, like “lip-service to women.”

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Representation Without Taxation - The Loopy Tax Strategies Of Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon

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Headlines like the one above from a Reuters story anger regular tax payers in the US, UK, France and frankly, everywhere.  They use legal loopholes and international transactions to weave a complex web of tax avoidance.

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Remembering JFK: His Amazing Speech On Secrecy And The Responsibilities Of Newspapers

John F. Kennedy was one of the country’s most literate and best educated presidents. He is also the only president to have won a Pulitzer Prize.

Here’s some extracts from the incredible speech above:

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Here Is Why Silicon Valley Has So Many Serial Entrepreneurs...

Idle hands and idle brain cells make a John McAfee. Here’s a thankfully short documentary about a rich 67 year old bored man. He’s one of the reasons we have lots of serial entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. From Journeyman Pictures:

 

A Parting Gift To Afghani And Iraqi Children - Pre-Loaded Tablets

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The above Mother Jones article is depressing but it reminded me of an idea I‘d been thinking about. As the US  pulls out of Afghanistan and Iraq, I have a proposal: Give every child pre-loaded tablets filled with apps and Western culture, so that they can see we’re not all bad. 

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Enterprise Security Startups Are Booming - So Why Is Security Getting Worse?

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I attended a dinner organized by Eastwick Communications that featured several of their security clients and a security industry analyst. The discussion grew ever more interesting as the wine glasses emptied and refilled. Here’s my notes from the evening:

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Silicon Valley Legends At Homebrew Club Reunion

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The Homebrew Club in the mid-1970s Silicon Valley was the place to be. It’s where Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, and many other well known tech pioneers, were all just nobodies, meeting every other Wednesday evening to share their fascination with early microprocessors and build primitive microcomputers. 

Monday evening the Computer History Museum hosted a reunion of this iconic organization, thanks to generous funding from KickstarterHarry McCracken from Time was there (above photo credit) and so was Daniel Terdiman from CNET News:

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'Library Of Alexandria 2.0' Asks For Help To Recover From Fire

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The Internet Archive in San Francisco is asking for help in recovering from a two-alarm fire that caused more than $600,000 in damage.

The archive often compares its mission to that of the famous library of Alexandria, Egypt, destroyed by fire more than 2,000 years ago. It underscores that connection with mirror servers located in Alexandria. 

Sarah B. reporting for RichmondSFBlog:

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Gates Rules Out Saving $MSFT - He's Too Busy Talking Smack About Other Philanthropists

Bill Gates told the Financial Times' West Coast Editor Richard Waters that he won't be coming back to Microsoft as CEO:

An exclusive interview with Bill Gates - FT.com

Gates fends off questions about Microsoft, though he says -- contrary to persistent speculation -- that he is not about to step back in to run it as Steve Jobs once returned to revive Apple. He also admits that the company is taking up a much bigger slice of his time than the one day a week to which he signed up after he left. 

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Vanity Fair Calls Arrington Rape Scandal 'The Dark Side of the Information Age'

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Maximillian Potter's "Letter from Silicon Valley" in the December issue of Vanity Fair examines the career of Mike Arrington, founder of the news site TechCrunch and the accusations of rape made by his former girlfriend Jenn Allen. 

There's not much new information about the case even though Mr. Potter door-steps Ms. Allen's apartment and her parents' home. However, the long article tries desperately -- and bizarrely -- to link the rape accusation to the lack of women in Silicon Valley startups, and that this case demonstrates "the dark side of the Information Age."

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NYC VCs Pledge Millions To Turn Their Public Schools Into Code Academies - Who Will Fund Silicon Valley Schools?

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SF/Silicon Valley Public Schools should be showcases not basket cases.

Here’s a fabulous initiative led by New York city’s most successful VC, Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures:

My colleagues at The NYC Foundation For Computer Science Education and I are raising a $5mm seed fund to invest in computer science education in the NYC public school system… and now we are now opening it up to others who want to participate alongside of us.

A VC: The Computer Science Education Fund

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Are Fabulous Work Perks Needed For Top Talent? Google Says 'No'

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(Above from left) Doug MacMillan, Bloomberg; Melissa Daimler, Twitter; Rowan Trollope, Cisco Systems; and Todd Carlisle, Director of Staffing at Google.

There’s enormous competition for software engineers and many companies offer an ever larger array of work perks convinced that it will help them recruit the best.

Kathleen Pender at SFGate.com reports: Tech, social media employers offer perks aplenty 

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The Atlantic's 50 'Greatest Innovations' Misses The Greatest One

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Gastronomy at the San Francisco Exploratorium.

The Atlantic’s columnist James Fallows recently listed the top 50 innovations by polling “a panel of 12 scientists, entrepreneurs, engineers, historians of technology, and others.”

Strangely, I counted only 11 panelists (math wasn’t on the list), which included Silicon Valley VC John Doerr;  Joi Ito from MIT Media Lab; and the perennial favorite of every editor: whoever happens to be around the office at the time, which in this case was The Atlantic’s senior editor Alexis Madrigal.

 The list starts off with:

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The Loss Of The Unmonitored Self

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Historians will look back at the past 20 years as a unique period, a time when there was great opportunity to see deep into the collective soul of entire societies because people’s online behavior was largely naked of any fears of being judged or monitored.

Novelist Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez wrote: “All human beings have three lives: public, private, and secret.” We once had insight into that secret world. 

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Twitter's IPO Will Cost San Francisco More than $55m In Lost Taxes

 

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Twitter’s shareholders will be worth at  least $11 billion when the company completes its IPO next week. At a per share price of between $17 to $20 $TWTR is priced on the low side at a substantial discount — a far different strategy to that of Google and Facebook IPOs, which were priced high. Priced to move fast doesn’t seem attractive long term.

San Francisco Chronicle reports that Twitter’s sweet tax deal with the city of San Francisco, in which it agreed to “gentrify” mid-Market street — one of the poorest city neighborhoods — will likely result in about $55m in tax savings. This is more than double the $22m estimate.

James Temple reports: 

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MediaWatch: Billionaires Can't Save Journalism

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Billionaires love buying media businesses and they've been doing it for decades but recent purchases are being viewed as philanthropic rather than vanity projects. 

The recent media venture by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, and Jeff Bezos' Washington Post have spurred the decimated ranks of US news organizations as potentially being able to save journalism. [Tech Wealth and Ideas Are Heading Into News - NYTimes.com]

Foremski's Take: These billionaire ventures can't save journalism — here's why.

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Deja View: Fourth Time Lucky For Yahoo! Media Venture?

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Marissa Mayer at "Crunchies Awards" February 2013

Marrisa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo! announced that David Pogue, the popular freelance gadget columnist for the New York Times is joining Yahoo! Here is his announcement:

A Note from Pogue — Goodbye—and Hello

I’ll be writing columns and blog posts each week, of course, and making my goofy videos. But my team and I have much bigger plans, too, for all kinds of online and real-world creations…

This is a company that’s young, revitalized, aggressive — and, under Marissa Mayer’s leadership, razor-focused, for the first time in years. … So I’ll be starting there in a few weeks. (I’ll still keep up my NOVA specials on PBS, my “CBS Sunday Morning” stories, my Missing Manual books, and my Scientific American column.)

Foremski's Take: Yahoo! has tried several times to build a media business.


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Analysis: What Future For Google's Troubled $12.7bn AdSense Network?

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Google's latest quarterly financial report shows problems in its AdSense network, which was responsible for 29% of last year's $43.7 billion in revenues. 

It means a lot less money for Google's network of publishing partners, such as the New York Times. 

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Tibco Sharpens Its Focus On The Next Big IT Shift 'The Event-Enabled Enterprise'

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I'm in Las Vegas this week as a guest of Tibco Software's user conference, TUCON13  - an annual event. I've been to plenty of them and they are often full of marketing razzle with a dash of dazzle but this year things were different.

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A Simple Way To Hire For Diversity: Blackout Candidate Names

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Krissy Clark reporting for Marketplace.org writes about a technique for hiring the best talent and automatically increasing gender and ethnic diversity in staffing.

The procedure is simple and was first used by symphony orchestras in the 1970s to increase the number of female musicians. Auditions were performed behind a screen and chosen for best performance, and magically, more women began to be hired.

The judges were screened from their own biases!

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The Not So Sunny Side Of Twitter's Street...

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Twitter's elite staff work in plush surrounds and eat oysters and lamb chops, outside HQ (above) on the south-side of mid-Market Street is San Francisco's poorest neighborhood -- the Tenderloin. 

There was a recent hearing by the city of San Francisco where Twitter was asked what it had done for the community in return for about $22m in tax savings since 2011. Here's an excellent report by Justine Sharrock on Buzzfeed.

"... it gave away $60,000 in promoted tweets."

 I was walking to an event at Moscone and took a few pictures of the neighborhood. 

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1882: When Oscar Wilde Arrived In A Sombrero And A Withered Bouquet And Out-Drank San Francisco

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Oscar Wilde in in America, 1882, 28 years old. 

Gary Kamiya tells stories on SFGate.com, from the history of San Francisco and its newspaper archives. It's a rich history for such a small city,  and it's a strong literary history, too, which is apt with Silicon Valley becoming a Media Valley.

This week Mr. Kamiya tells the story of Oscar Wilde's visit to San Francisco in 1882, as part of strange promotional stunt for a Gilbert & Sullivan opera lampooning the Aesthetes, an English artistic and literary set enamored with  a "Cult of Beauty," a heightened level of sensitivity to the beauty of nature, and in the decor of their surroundings — rooms, furniture, and even wallpaper. 

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Marshall Kirkpatrick: Little Bird On Market Street

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It was great to run into Marshall Kirkpatrick on Market Street. I was passing the busy Powell Street corner and heard "Tom" from somewhere. I usually ignore such voices because I'm not sure if they are external but this one became louder and I turned to see Marshall.

He used to work as a reporter for ReadWriteWeb, which is now just ReadWrite following his departure, (it's missing the "web" and missing his excellent reporting). Marshall said he was in town from Portland for meetings with investors for his startup Little Bird. 

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IT Research Firm Gartner Warns Of Social Unrest

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Gartner is the world's largest IT market research firm and its analysts consult with the biggest global businesses. Normally, Gartner is concerned with dry IT topics such as server virtualization.

Nick Farrell reporting for TechEye:

Gartner claims that there will be some major changes in technology soon, which will reduce the need for workers. This will bring about social unrest, the analyst firm warned….
Daryl Plummer, a Gartner analyst at the research firm's Symposium ITxpo said the digital revolution is not following the same path. It is leading to a decline in the overall number of people required to do a job…Plummer said that by 2018, 3D printing will result in the loss of at least $100 billion a year in intellectual property globally.

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Vanity Fair Will Publish Investigation Into Michael Arrington

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Jenn Allen at a SupperKing event in November, 2012.

Vanity Fair has told SVW that its December issue will feature an article about Michael Arrington, founder of popular news site TechCrunch. It will examine the case made by Jenn Allen (above) accusing him of an attack against her.

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Is Google Changing Its Mission? $100s Of Millions Pledged To Living Longer Venture

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Fortune Senior Editor Dan Primack recently returned from a visit to Silicon Valley and he reports new details on the Calico Google venture that is funding research into extending human life spans.

He reports that Calico, co-founded by Bill Maris, managing partner at Google Ventures, had commitments of investment from  wealthy tech execs and VCs, but that Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page decided to fund the venture entirely from Google's balance sheet: New details on Google's anti-aging startup

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Living In The Shadow Of The Googleplex: Neglect Leads Mountain View To Switch Off Google WiFi

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In 2006 Google set up a free WiFi network in Mountain View, where it is headquartered. But constant problems with connectivity have forced the local government to decide to pay for a reliable WiFi connection for its City Hall, library, and other buildings.

Daniel DeBolt reporting for The Mountain View Voice: City Hall to switch off Google WiFi

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Charles DiLisio: Preserving Silicon Valley's Heritage Before It Gets Torn Down

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Credit: San Jose Mercury

I had a great conversation with photographer  Charles DiLisio (above), who is a man with a mission: photographing, and tracking down old photos of some of Silicon Valley's most important historical buildings for a project he calls, "Silent Icons of Silicon Valley." 

He was recently featured in the San Jose Mercury by veteran columnist Mike Cassidy:

 

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Fortune Asks 'Why Does America Hate Silicon Valley?'

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1, Hacker Way, a view of the Facebook campus from an airship.

On a recent visit to Silicon Valley, Dan Primack, senior editor at Fortune was asked, "why so many outside Silicon Valley vilify those within it." He replied:

The Valley's public figures often seem to exude a particularly insular narcissism – that so long as the tech biz is thriving then everything else is largely irrelevant…

It also probably doesn't help that so much of the local tech press is personally friendly with industry insiders — thus prompting outside media to be particularly harsh (as a counter-example, not as much NYC financial press spends its free time with bankers or PE execs — there's much more of a separation). 

He asked readers for their thoughts. I left the following comment: 

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Circa Relaunches News Rewrite App - Are Rewrites A Business?

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Circa CEO Matt Galligan. 

It's good to see that Circa is still plugging away with its iOS news app, which today is launched as version 2.0 and there's an Android app, too.

Dan Farber at CNET: 

Circa news app brings breaking news to followers

"We want to make news easy to consume, like Cliff Notes," said Matt Galligan, co-founder and CEO of Circa. "We don't summarize. We take stories and break them into core elements -- facts, statistics, videos and images -- and add context to certain points. Rather than a long narrative, we offer a series of points that you can get through in seconds rather than minutes."

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Silk Road Shutdown Benefits International Crime Syndicates, Bitcoin Unharmed

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Last year a 21 year old man is shot and killed in a drug-related case near my home in San Francisco.

The FBI's shutdown of web site Silk Road is a hollow victory in the hugely expensive war on drugs, which has consistently failed to stop the drug trade, or stop criminals from amassing huge amounts of wealth and ordering more than 60,000 murders in Mexico alone.

Silk Road had some positive aspects. The FBI admitted that Silk Road vendors provided high quality drugs. And the prices were far below the street, reducing the money fueling the trade.

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Shift To Mobile Is Bad News For Media Sites - Ad Revs Plunge

Ingrid Lunden reports on the latest forecast on global advertising markets from advertising agency ZenithOptimedia.

Global ad spend in 2013 will see steady growth of 3.5% to reach $503 billion by the end of the year...In the U.S... digital in 2013 will account for 21.8% of all ad spend ($109.7 billion), up from 19% the year before.

Meanwhile, mobile remains a solid minority of activity: in the U.S., mobile ads will account for 3.7% of all ad spend ($6.2 billion).

TV advertising is managing to hang on quite well:

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The Dismal Failure Of Big Data

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Data Scientist Hilary Mason on a GE Software panel.

The excitement about "Big Data" in tech circles is very optimistic and many companies are rushing to hire "Data Scientists" to profit from the explosion of hype about the reams of data collected inside their own organizations,  and in the world outside.

But having access to Big Data doesn't guarantee that companies, or individuals, will understand or be able to derive much value from it. The very few examples of companies doing that, are very few. And for a good reason – finding insight in all that data is difficult and becomes more difficult the bigger the data sets.

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A Slowing Moore's Law Drives Silicon Valley $9.4 Billion M&A Deal

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Intel shows off an advanced silicon wafer.

Bloomberg reporters Takashi Amano & Brian Womack: Applied Materials to Buy Tokyo Electron for $9.39 Billion - Bloomberg

Applied Materials Inc., the largest chipmaking-equipment supplier, agreed to acquire Tokyo Electron Ltd. for $9.39 billion in stock in the largest deal for a Japanese company from outside the country in six years.
Gary Dickerson, who was promoted to chief executive officer of Applied Materials this month, will be CEO of the combined manufacturer… Applied Materials shareholders will own 68 percent of the new entity. The consolidation among chip-equipment makers mirrors the increasing concentration within their customer base. 

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Meet Silicon Valley's Top VC Publicist...

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It's unusual for a publicist to be featured in a big spread in a large newspaper  since it's usually clients that are supposed to get all the attention, but Margit Wennmachers decided to get some ink for herself for a change, in the San Francisco Chronicle.

She is the co-founder of PR firm Outcast Communications and works as one of 24 partners at VC firm Andreessen Horowitz. She's been working there since June 2010, nevertheless, reporter Nellie Bowles describes it as "her new venture." 

I've known her for many years, especially when she worked at Outcast and she is indeed a tremendously capable person, deserving of a tremendously fawning article:

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Is Google Using NSA Spying As Excuse To Boost Ad Revenues?

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Daniel Ellsberg (above), famed whistle-blower of "Pentagon Papers" spoke at a recent protest to NSA spying at "Restore the Fourth" in San Francisco.

Google has begun to encrypt all searches made by users even if they aren't signed in to Google but it reveals the searches to its advertising customers. The search giant appears to be taking advantage of the NSA spying scandal to increase the number of its advertisers.

Danny Sullivan reports:Post-PRISM, Google Confirms Quietly Moving To Make All Searches Secure, Except For Ad Clicks

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Flipboard Raises $50m At A Valuation Nearly 1/2 of New York Times Co.

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Kara Swisher reports that Flipboard, the online news magazine app, has raised $50m at a $800m valuation, which is almost 50% of the market cap of The New York Times Company at $1.75 billion.

Flipboard produces no content of its own, harvesting all text, photos, and videos from the Internet.

Exclusive: Flipboard Raises $50 Million More on $800 Million Valuation - Kara Swisher - Media - AllThingsD

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AngelList Plans Expansion As It Raises $24m Ahead Of SEC Changes

AngelList, the company that brings angels and startups together, is planning an expansion taking advantage of a novel affiliate model, and changes in SEC rules on how private companies can raise money.

AngelList is a competitor to other early startup investors and some VC firms. Dan Primack at Fortune, reports that AngelList has raised money at a $150m valuation:

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Google's Life-Extension Venture Is About Employee Retention

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Imagine if you had a choice: work at a company for a decent salary and benefits, or work at a company with decent salary, benefits, and the opportunity to live longer?

The latter offer is the one that Google will eventually be able to make thanks to its investment in life extending technologies venture Calico. And it has said that such a job offer is possible.

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[Updated] Prediction: AllThingsD Name Will Be Retired - Deal Almost Done

[Updated from Kara Swisher with traffic numbers and compensation. Also: She reports that a deal is almost done.]

I'm a big fan of the AllThingsD editorial team because of its old school insistence on quality reporting and its ethics  so I'm looking forward to the new venture as Kara Swisher, Walt Mossberg, and team strike out from News Corp./Dow Jones with a new media partner and investors in early 2014.

Here's my reading of the tea leaves from the official statements from Dow Jones and from AllThingsD:

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Twitter Claimed Vastly Inflated Advertising Metrics As IPO Interest Grows

Twitter claimed that an advertiser received 25 times the number of tweets it actually received and it inflated another metric by 680 million until the San Francisco Chronicle double checked the company's figures.

Jeff Elder at the "The Tech Chronicles" on SFGate.com reported: Twitter posts inaccurately high metrics about its ads, changes them after questions

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Vanity Fair Struggles To Find Silicon Valley's 'Best Dressed'

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Vanity Fair struggled to come up with ten examples of stylish Silicon Valley executives for its slideshow: The Top 10 Best-Dressed Execs in Silicon Valley | Vanity Fair

In fact, a couple of them aren't really Silicon Valley based, and spend more time in New York, such as Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey (above) and Pete Cashmore, founder of Mashable. And there's several on the list that you've probably never heard about - the result of desperate Googling in researching this topic. 

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Upcoming: A 'Live Historic TED Talk' From Paris 1915 By 2 Nobel Prize Winner Marie Curie

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This is well worth seeing. It's best described as a live historic TED talk from 1915 Paris. Marie Skłodowska-Curie  was the first to win two Nobel prizes. The performance by Susan Marie Frontczak is extraordinary with critics saying that she embodies the scientist in looks and in speech.

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Spies In Disguise: NSA Pretends To Be Google

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Above from Mother Jones.

The NSA Edward Snowden revelations are getting worse and worse for the reputation of leading Silicon Valley companies as the latest information shows that the US spy agency has masqueraded as Google to collect information on users.

 Josh Harkinson reports in Mother Jones: Report: NSA Mimics Google to Monitor "Target" Web Users | Mother Jones

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New Brooms At Intel Want Change - Good Luck With That

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Diane Bryant, senior vice president heads Intel's Datacenter business group.

The Intel Developer Forum this week in San Francisco, is Intel's most important event of the year because it's a chance for its top executives to talk about future strategy.

Unfortunately, it's also the time of the year when Apple usually announces new products, and there's multiple conferences in town,  so it's always tough getting attention. But it's especially important for Intel this year because  it has a new CEO in Brian Krzanich, and a new president, Renee James.

It's a coup for Intel's communications team to get some attention from the New York Times in a very news-heavy week. Veteran reporter Quentin Hardy spoke with Ms. James about: Intel's Extensive Makeover

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What Have You Bought That Was Marketed To You Online?

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I've recently been asking people a simple question at parties: "What have you bought lately that was marketed to you online that you probably wouldn't have bought anyway, like a favorite brand of jeans, etc.?"

People smile, some of them giggle at the question, but none have managed to give me an answer.

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Role Models: Big Challenges Fuel Max Levchin's Ambitions

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Max Levchin, the co-founder of PayPal and a serial entrepreneur, spoke about his ambitions at Techcrunch Disrupt conference.

Rebecca Grant reported: PayPal cofounder Max Levchin aims to ‘move the needle on big challenges’ using data | VentureBeat

 

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Intel's New CEO Pledges To Wrestle Mobile Markets From ARM

At the Intel Developer Forum, Intel's new CEO Brian Krzanich spoke about the future strategy for the world's largest chipmaker, predicting $100 tablets, and large markets for wearable computers.

Dean Takahashi at Venturebeat, reported that Intel won't give ground to the UK chip company ARM, which has been more successful than Intel in tablet and mobile markets. Intel CEO announces 14-nanometer processors, predicts sub-$100 tablets | VentureBeat

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Everything You Know About Infographics Is Wrong

Infographics have become a popular way for companies to produce quality content that is easily shared and in the process, it is assumed, it is a good thing for the company.

However, Google sees infographics in a much different way. To Google, it is duplicated content; it is a paid form of promotion that appears to boost the popularity of a website through means that are not "natural" and therefore it is a form of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to gain a higher rank in its search index than is deserved through normal means.

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Wolff's Much Ado About Kara Swisher

I've known Kara Swisher for many years, back when I was at the Financial Times and she was "Boomtown" columnist at the Wall Street Journal. She's a tenacious and persistent journalist and those are also key characteristics of her success at building AllThingsD into a solid news platform.

She's also done a great job in hiring reporters with similar qualities of tenacity and persistence and it has given AllThingsD a good reputation for accuracy and quality.

So it's strange to read Michael Wolff in USA Today describing Kara Swisher as a "feared player" and that Rupert Murdoch once called her "crazy scary."Wolff: Tech journalist Kara Swisher is a feared player

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Our Secret Society Where Everyone Knows Everyone's Business...

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 From Discover magazine 1988.

It's ironic that with all our technologies for keeping things secret our secrets have a way of coming out into the open. We now know so much about the super-secret NSA and its spying activities that it's as if Spy versus Spy had become a comic reality.

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Remembering Russia's Extraordinary Visionary: Ilya Segalovich

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"Delicate, subtle, kind, intelligent, gracious, inspired, luminous. He was afraid of nothing, was at the forefront, waited for us there."

“Sometimes it felt like talking to someone who lives five years in the future."

Those are some of the quotes from an excellent article by Andy Atkins-Krüger, writing on Search Engine Land, about Ilya Segalovich, co-founder of Yandex, Russia’s largest search engine. He passed away recently following treatment for cancer.

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The Fiscal Limits Of Moore's Law: 2020 - The End Of Exponential Innovation

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It won't be physics that sets the limits of Moore's Law but fiscal issues — as the chip industry's platform of exponential innovation grinds to a halt after a 50 year run in the face of mounting costs around 2020.

Then it'll be up to software to take over in doubling computing power and halving costs every two or so years. Good luck with that. 

Rik Myslewski at The Register, reports from the Hot Chips conference at Stanford University:

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Analysis: AllThingsD At Crossroads - Founding Team Wants Buyout From Dow Jones

JP Mangalindan and Dan Primack at Fortune have produced an excellent article on tech gadget and news site AllThingsD and the discussions between owner Dow Jones and the founding team of Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher.

Here are the main points: AllThingsD nears split with Dow Jones - Fortune

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Y Combinator's Paul Graham Would Never Do A Startup Again

Here is a fascinating interview with Paul Graham, co-founder of Y Combinator, in Inc. magazine, by Issie Lapowsky. (Hat tip Matt Rosoff.)

When did it become the dream of young people to run off to Silicon Valley and found a startup? What happened to make kids' dreams so mundane? 

Paul Graham has been working with hundreds of young business teams for many years and he has lots of interesting things to say in this interview. Here's a few extracts from: Paul Graham on Building Companies for Fast Growth | Inc.com:

 

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Giving Microsoft Free Advice: The Best So Far…And My 2 Cents

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There has been rush from people (journalists and bloggers) who have never run a lemonade stand or any business, to give copious free advice to Microsoft [$MSFT] in the wake of CEO Steve Ballmer's resignation. 

I read some of them, the best one so far is from John Gapper at the Financial Times. His advice is simple: 

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Living On The Fault Line Of Innovation - West Coast Has 4 Startup Centers

Here's an interesting infographic from Intuit showing the world's top 20 startup centers. The West coast of North America has four: 1 - Silicon Valley; 3 - Los Angeles; 4 - Seattle; and 9 - Vancouver. Interesting why there is no listing for Portland given the large high tech community there. 

I've written about the connection between centers of innovation and the disruptive reality of living on a major earthquake fault-line — is there a connection?

The West Coast Corridor: 1400 Miles Of Innovation - Disruptive Creation On The Fault Line

Here's the infographic: (Hat tip Heidi Groshelle.)

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New Gmail Filters Out The Competition: Other Marketers

Promotional email has long been an effective way of delivering opt-in commercial messages and many marketers have rediscovered this method after experimenting with advertising, social media campaigns, and other novel forms of online marketing.

However, recent changes at Google's Gmail has marketers very worried.

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The News Is Not Free… 33 Journalists Killed This Year

DeadJournalists

In the tech industry there is little understanding of news and how it becomes news: software engineers see a mass of free news for the taking and for building highly-valued news aggregation businesses such as Flipboard.

The price of all this free news?

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Friends In Low Places: Cory Booker's Old Boy Silicon Valley Network Funds His Politics

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Newark mayor Cory Booker is running for Senate. credit: Karsten Moran - New York Times.

Emma Green at The Atlantic tries to answer this question: What does Silicon Valley get from backing Newark, New Jersey mayor Cory Booker? There's been a huge amount of money headed his way.

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What Are The Benefits To Communities From Living Next To Insular Tech Companies?

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Facebook campus One Hacker Way.

Jessica Guynn, at the LA Times covers some familiar ground in her report: San Francisco split by Silicon Valley's wealth - latimes.com

This part was interesting:

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Some Points About The Bezos Washington Post And Saving Journalism...

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Photo credit: Marc Goldstein.

 This morning I took part in NPR's "To the Point" an hour-long current affairs program hosted by Warren Olney, award winning veteran journalist, on the topic of the Jeff Bezos Washington Post (produced by Anna ScottChristian BordalSonya Geis). They liked my analysis: "Uncomfortable Facts About The Bezos Washington Post."

Also, on the show: John F. Harris, Editor-in-Chief of Politico and a former Washington Post editor; and Nick Wingfield from the New York Times.

Here's my notes:

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Google Is Forcing A Change In The PR Industry

Lot's of great discussion around my recent posts about Google and PR.

[Did Google just kill PR agencies?]

Sam Cooke: "It's been a long, a long time coming. But I know a change is going to come, oh yes it will."

I've long warned that PR companies would be subject to similar forces of disruption that have been destroying the media sector for the past decade. As with the media companies, their helter skelter basket to hell was waiting for them.

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PR in the Age of Google - 'Unnatural' Promotion Of Content Is Penalized

Google has updated its webmaster rules on the use of links and keywords in press releases and it doesn't look good for PR agencies and their current suite of services. The details on the changes are here: Link schemes - Webmaster Tools Help

Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site's ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google's Webmaster Guidelines. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site.

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Google's War On PR Agencies - Warns About Links In Press Releases, And Promoting

A warning to PR agencies, Google is in the business of promotions and it doesn't like competitors! Google recently updated its webmaster guidelines: Watch your keywords and don't use them for manipulating your client's site's rank or your client's site will be penalized!

Link schemes - Webmaster Tools Help

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Here's Why Bezos Had To Use His Own Money For Washington Post Buy

Jeff Bezos had to use his own money for buying the Washington Post. The newspaper group, with its $54m in 2012 losses, and large pension liabilities, has losses of $49m in the first half of this year:

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Good Luck With That - Pew Research Graphs Bezos' Stunning Challenge

Many people are hoping that Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, will be able to find a business model that saves the newspaper industry. I wish him the best of luck. Pew Research put together a great post charting the decline of the newspaper, which will most certainly be mirrored in the challenges of a democratic society.

I remind people that, "Special interest groups will gladly pay for the media they want you to read, but you don't want to pay for the independent media you should be reading."

Take a look at some of this data put together by Amy Mitchell, Mark Jurkowitz, and Emily Guskin from the Pew Research Center: What's Behind The Washington Post Sale | Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ)

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Google Will Unveil News Projects

This looks interesting (via Peter Mullen):

August 7 at Google HQ, the Center for Investigative Reporting: Techraking III conference. There will be presentations by eight Google Fellows who will announce projects they have been working on, related to news.

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Uncomfortable Facts About The Bezos Washington Post

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There's an astounding lack of critical analysis of Jeff Bezos' planned $250m purchase of the Washington Post newspaper.

It is not a viable business, it loses $50m a year and has large pension liabilities. Its purchase only makes sense as a vehicle of influence, and not as a rescue of the newspaper industry.

Let me state some facts:

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Jeff "Gordon Gekko" Bezos - $250m For Washington Post's $604m Overfunded Pension Plan?

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Gordon Gekko acquired an older company with an over-funded pension plan.

In the movie "Wall Street" fictional financier Gordon Gekko, orchestrates a deal to acquire a company with a large overfunded pension plan, which he then pockets.

Jeff Bezos is paying $250m for The Washington Post which has a huge, overfunded pension plan.

Tom Gera at the Wall Street Journal reports: 

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Living in Silicon Valley...

Fake problems

Cool infographic from the editors at BestScienceDegrees.com with some interesting factual nuggets: 

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Analysis: An Incredible Coup - Bezos Owns The Newspaper of The Capital Of The World's Most Powerful Nation

Foremski's Take: In his letter to employees from their new boss, Jeff Bezos, the founder of e-commerce giant Amazon, promises to keep the paper focused on what the reader wants and to follow important stories no matter the cost.

The paper’s duty will remain to its readers and not to the private interests of its owners….Journalism plays a critical role in a free society, and The Washington Post -- as the hometown paper of the capital city of the United States -- is especially important.

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Daniel Ellsberg Speaks At "Restore the Fourth" in SF

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It was wonderful to see living history, Daniel Ellsberg (above), famed whistle-blower of "Pentagon Papers" speak at a rally for "Restore the Fourth" in San Francisco, Sunday.

The former US military analyst, said that US democracy, with all of its faults, is worth fighting for and devoting lives to preserving.

He spoke about changes in the US towards whistleblowers and that Edward Snowden had to leave the country. He said that he was able to stay in the country when he leaked The Pentagon Papers. In a recent article:

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Future Lunch Item At The Googleplex: Sergey Brin's Patented Stem Cell Steak

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Google co-founder Sergey Brin has funded a project that grew strips of meat from stem cells, which were then collected to form a burger, cooked and eaten at a live event in London.

Bloomberg reporter Makiko Kitamura: Brin's $332,000 Lab-Grown Burger Has Cake-Like Texture - Bloomberg

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The Incredible Lessons From Fashion's Free Culture

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In this TED Education video, media maven Johanna Blakeley looks at the effects of intellectual protection on various industries and shows how less protection encourages creativity, innovation, and dollars.

The chart (above) clipped from her TED talk (below) shows the relative size of low-IP industries on the left (food, automobiles, fashion) versus high-IP industries on the right (films, books, music.)

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End Of An Era: Social Media Club Founders Step Down

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Chris Heuer and Giovanni Rodriguez.

I was there in 2006, on Chris Heuer and Kristie Wells's back porch when they first began discussing Social Media Club. Then Chris went on a giant global trek, like a Johnny Appleseed, setting up local Social Media Clubs everywhere.

Over 300 local chapters connected more than 500,000 people over the past seven years. That's a wonderful achievement. 

Chris and Kristie said they are stepping down from their current roles because they have new projects. On Facebook, Chris wrote:

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FridayWatch - Codefellas: Insight From Inside Spook Central

 

Codefellas EP1: When Topple met Winters 

Great animated series from Wired. Chapter 1 is above, the rest are below:

"Takes you inside the secretive world of a slightly askew NSA, with the eccentric Agent Topple, played by John Hodgman, and his young hacker protégé, Nicole Winters."

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Media Disruption Continues: New York Times Reports 2 Years Of Declining Print And Digital Ad Revenues

The New York Times Company [$NYT] reported second quarter 2013 earnings 48% below last year's quarter due to severance and other "special" items but digital paid subscriptions rose 40%.

The full results are here: www.nytco.com/pdf/2Q_2013_Earnings.pdf

Despite rising numbers of readers and paid subscriptions, the company continues to struggle as advertising revenues continued to fall yet again-- 6% in this quarter. This is the eighth sequential quarter of declining print and digital advertising revenues.

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10-Year Study Erases VC 'Smart Money' Claims

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Marc Andreessen, Bill Maris, and John Doerr, are some of the smartest investors in tech, says Wired.

The National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) and Cambridge Associates recently released a study showing that VC funds returned an average of 7.4% annually over a ten year period. For early stage funding it was just 6.4%. This compares to 8.5% for the S&P 500.

Foremski's Take: The VCs of Sand Hill Road have an unshakeable belief in their investment skills, despite the study's Big Data showing they can't outperform a grandmother investing in an S&P Index fund.

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Could Bill Gates Save Microsoft?

I watched Charlie Rose interviewing Bill Gates, on "60 Minutes" on Sunday, about his charity work, his war on diseases, his nuclear reactor, and his low cost toilet.

It seemed that Charlie Rose forgot to ask Bill Gates an important question:

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The Sweetly Toxic Center Of Silicon Valley

2013 07 29 15 33 59

Superfund sites, Silicon Valley on Dotspotting

Alexis Madrigal, senior editor at The Atlantic, tried to find the center of Silicon Valley and compare it to what was there before. It starts off as a whimsical tour of Silicon Valley's strip malls, and strip clubs, but then turns up a nastier side of Silicon Valley.

Not Even Silicon Valley Escapes History - Alexis C. Madrigal - The Atlantic

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Analysis: The Empire Strikes Back – Giant $35bn Omnicom, Publicis Merger Aims Squarely At Google, Facebook...

Foremski's Take: Yesterday's announcement of the Omnicom and Publicis $35bn merger to create the world's largest advertising company, is all about gaining the upper hand in the disruption of their business by Google, and other Silicon Valley media companies.

Google, Facebook, Twitter, and others, will have to work with a smaller number of very large agencies who are increasingly united on what works for them. The shift in the scale of the advertising agencies is a huge shift in the balance of power.

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OMG! Omnicom And Publicis To Merge Into Global Ad Giant POG – Bad News For $GOOG And $FB

This is a huge deal, not only in size: $35 billion, but also in its impact on global markets; it topples Sir Martin Sorrell's WPP; and it's bad news for Silicon Valley companies such as Google [$GOOG] and Facebook [$FB]. 

Bloomberg reporters Kristen Schweizer and Marie Mawa: Publicis to Merge With Omnicom to Create Advertising Leader

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Google Glass And 3D Printers … Living In The Blended Reality Of The Future

 

It was great to catch up with Aarti Shah from The Holmes Report, and Matthew Greeley, CEO of BrightIdea. Matt had a great take on 3D printers. He pointed out that when the time between thinking something up, and then physically having it – shrinks towards nothing – as with future 3D printers, our reality becomes less distinguishable from living in a digital reality, the Singularity. 

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'#SoMe' When Sock Puppets Roamed Free In Silicon Valley...

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From left: Loren Feldman with Mike Arrington, Loic LeMeur, and Robert Scoble during happier times - photo by Loic LeMeur.

"#SoMe" is video maker Loren Feldman's long, funny, witty, insightful, and beautifully melancholic movie, recalling a time when social media was in its infancy, barely out of diapers but growing fast with the promise of becoming a force of nature, transforming us and our institutions into a future meritocracy, a democracy of transparency and rainbows.

We're still waiting for the rainbows and the rest. And the melancholy ending of #SoMe is a metaphor for what we lost, and maybe never had.

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Cultivating A Smarter Crowd: Norwest's Startups Move Beyond Crowdsourcing

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I recently attended an interesting media dinner hosted by VC firm Norwest Venture Partners (NVP) and featuring three of its startups: ModClothMotif, and Quirky.

NVP has done well lately, with the recent success of the IPO for RetailMeNot, which debuted with a market cap of $1.3 billion. It has $3.7 billion under management and invests across a wide range of sectors.

NVP general partner Joshua Goldman did a good job in guiding the roundtable conversation. The key topic was  on crowdsourcing, or rather, what's the next step? Here are my notes:

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Amazon's Extraordinary Competitive Advantage As It Misses Q2 Earnings: It's Shareholders

Amazon [$AMZN] reported revenue up 22 per cent in its most recent quarter and a net loss of 2 cents a share compared with a profit of one cent a year ago. It missed Wall Street estimates of  5 cents per share profit.

Despite the large miss its share price dipped only 2 per cent in after hours trading underlying the completely different philosophy of its shareholders compared with other tech firms.

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Blueprints Reveal NSA's Utah Mega Storage Center Is Not Quite So Mega

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Forbes obtained the blueprints (above) for the NSA's one million square foot data storage facility being build in Utah, and due to open in September.

Kashmir Hill reports that experts have said it's likely not as formidable as some prior estimates: Blueprints Of NSA's Ridiculously Expensive Data Center In Utah Suggest It Holds Less Info Than Thought - Forbes

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Will Software Developers Be Able To Keep Moore's Law Alive?

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I disagree with this article from Intel Free Press, here is my argument: Hardware Is King, Software Is A Spoilt Brat Grown Fat Suckling On The Teats Of Chip Industry Innovation

By Intel Free Press

Krste Asanovic, a computer science professor at University of California, Berkeley (above) believes chip-savvy software developers can keep Moore's Law alive. 

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A Taxing Time For Google's Chairman As UK Tabloid Lists His 'Exotic Lovers'

2013 07 23 17 05 09

Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google, recently made a flip comment in the UK in response to news that the tech giant paid just $16m in taxes on $18.5 billion in UK revenues.

Google's Eric Schmidt: change British law and we'd pay more tax.

He said he had a fiduciary duty to his shareholders to pay as little overseas tax as legally possible.

The British hate paying taxes but consider it a social duty for the upkeep of their communities – and everyone is expected to pitch in and pay their fair share. Not understanding the culture, Mr. Schmidt's Ayn Rand-ish comments seemed better suited for Silicon Valley, and did not sit well with the British public. Which now makes him fair game for British newspapers.

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Living In The Shadow Of The Googleplex: Communities Struggle To Keep Jobs

I want to highlight this fact:

Last week at a Commonwealth Club event, Todd Carlisle, Director of Staffing at Google said that lavish work perks such as free food, and services such as apartment cleaning, were not a factor in recruiting top talent.

He said that no one had refused a job offer from Google based on available perks, or asked about them. 

So why does Google continue to provide free food and other services when it knows it is harming local businesses? The problem will only get worse as Google plans huge new office developments in Mountain View, and Palo Alto. 

Daniel Debolt at the Mountain View Voice has been on top of this story: Can't compete with free eats: Facing closure, Shoreline restaurant owners try to negotiate with Google.

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MG Siegler Tells Tech News Sites: 'Don't Write Something Because You Can'

MG Siegler, a former reporter with Techcrunch and now a partner at Google Ventures, is unhappy about the quality of tech news. He says that most of it – 75% is inaccurate and only 5% is right. And no one is held accountable (except in rare cases such as PandoDaily.)

He offers some advice in his post: The 75 — 20 — 5 Rule — Tech Blogging

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Silicon Valley Neighborhoods: Google's Free Food Hurting Local Businesses

Google is in the midst of a large expansion in Mountain View and much of North Bayshore – east of highway 101 is becoming one giant campus. It's developing a 1.1 million square foot campus at NASA Ames; and another site at Charleston East.  And west of 101, it recently purchased about 15 acres in Palo Alto.

Google clearly is not a proponent of work at home. With all the thousands of current and future Googlers local businesses should be happy -- but they aren't. 

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Shipping Giant Maersk Explains 'Every Company Is A Media Company'

Building the World's Largest Ship (in 76 seconds) from Maersk Line.

 Thanks go to Jeremiah Owyang at Altimeter Group, for pointing me to this excellent article by Jonathan Wichmann, Head of Social at Maersk, the Danish shipping giant.

He advises: "Hire a journalist not a marketer."

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Amazon AWS - An Unbeatable Cloud Competitor?

When Amazon cuts prices on its cloud services everyone else follows – and sometimes their share price also gets cut.

David Linthicum in his Cloud Computing column writes: The proof is in: Amazon fully controls the cloud

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Are Tech Blogs Exempt From Journalism?!

Kevin Roose, writing in New York Magazine, defends "tech blogs" Techcrunch and PandoDaily from critics saying they should be considered "trade publications" instead of impartial publications.

Let Tech Blogs Celebrate Start-Ups -- Daily Intelligencer

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Google's Ad Partners Suffer As It Pursues An Apple-like Business, And Cuts 5400 Jobs

Revenue growth for Google's ad partners slowed sharply for a second consecutive quarter as the search giant reported quarterly results that missed Wall Street estimates.

[Please see full Q2 earnings report: Google's Q2 falls below expectations with EPS of $9.56 | ZDNet]

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Incredible Revelation By Google Exec: Compete For Software Engineers With Life Extension Technologies

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Competition for software engineers is incredibly intense and Silicon Valley firms are pulling out all the stops to recruit and retain top talent. A great software engineer is a very scalable asset.

Every company can offer perks of free food and high salaries but where can an employer get ahead of the pack and offer something no one else can, what is the ultimate perk? How about life extension.

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'Snow Crash' Comes To Google Glass: Vulnerable To Hijack By QR Code!

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Life imitating art – a building in San Francisco's SoMa district.

Liz Ganes at All Things D reports:

Google Glass security vulnerability that allowed an outsider to take control of the wearable computing device via QR code has been fixed…

… since Glass allows users to connect to Wi-Fi by taking a picture of a QR code, it’s possible that someone could trick a Glass wearer to unwittingly join an access point that allowed someone else to remotely control Glass and to stream the display via Bluetooth.

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Trends In HR: How Google, Twitter, And Cisco Compete For Talent

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The Commonwealth Club's Inforum hosted an interesting event Tuesday evening in San Francisco, focused on the strategies local tech companies use to attract  top talent. 

Representatives from Google, Twitter, and Cisco Systems spoke about their recruitment tactics and the perks and other incentives they use to get, and retain, the talent they need.

(Above from left) Doug MacMillan, reporter for Bloomberg BusinessWeek moderated: Melissa Daimler, Head of Organizational Effectiveness and Learning, at Twitter; Rowan Trollope, Senior VP and GM of Collaboration Technology Group, at Cisco Systems; and Todd Carlisle, Director of Staffing at Google.

Here are my notes [with my comments in brackets]:

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Pew Survey Sizes Up Condé Naste's Unspammable Reddit: A Newspaper Model From The Future?

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Pew Research reports that six per cent of all online adults use Reddit: 15% of males aged 18-29; 8% of males aged 30 to 49; and 5% of women aged 18 to 49.

This extraordinary audience is mostly urban and suburban, strongly millennial, and strongly anti-commercial – bad news for the legions of marketeers that always flock to the latest fast growing social media sites, such as Pintrest and Tumblr.

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Event: Preparing For Workforce Of The Future

Tuesday July 16 The Commonwealth Club presents: How to Attract Tomorrow's Talent and Prepare for the Future Workforce 

Representatives from Twitter, Google, and Cisco Systems will be moderated by Bloomberg reporter Doug MacMillan. Here's the description: 

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Media Disruption Continues: Massive Drop In Ads For News Magazines Says Pew Research

2013 07 15 15 27 36

Media industry disruption continues. Pew Research reports a huge drop in ad pages in news magazines in the first half of this year. 

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Good Luck With That: YC Founder's Advice To Startups: Go Out And Sell

Y Combinator founder Paul Graham is a deity in Silicon Valley's startup communities and whenever and whatever he writes on his blog is closely scrutinized.

His latest post: Do Things that Don't Scale.

The word "scale" is code for software automation. His post is about startups that believe that all they need to do is launch their web service with sufficient attention and users will sign up and the business will grow (like a hockey stick). 

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JFK's Most Amazing And Incredibly Important Speech On Secrecy And Newspapers

"The very word "secrecy" is repugnant in a free and open society;

and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies,

to secret oaths and secret proceedings..."

- - -

"…there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment.

That I do not intend to permit to the extent that it is in my control."

- - -

"…that is why our press was protected by the First Amendment-- the only business in America specifically protected by the Constitution

-- not primarily to amuse and entertain,

not to emphasize the trivial and sentimental,

not to simply "give the public what it wants"

--but to inform, to arouse, to reflect,

to state our dangers and our opportunities,

to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold educate

and sometimes even anger public opinion."

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US Spy And Law Enforcement Agencies Should Buy 'Big Data' Like Everyone Else

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("Restore the Fourth" rally in San Francisco protesting NSA surveillance of US citizens.)

Declan McCullagh, the Washington correspondent for CNET, reports that the NSA and other agencies can force tech firms to comply with demands for real-time data on their users because the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act provides them with legal rights to install their own gear inside their data centers.

How the U.S. is forcing Internet firms' hands on surveillance | Politics and Law - CNET News

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Google's 'Shameful Hypocrisy' In Support Of Anti-Global Warming Senator Inhofe

Google's PR machine will let you know about all its wonderful "Green" projects and the $1 billion it's invested in energy from wind and sun: Google makes $1 billion investment in renewable energy - SFGate

But you'll have to go elsewhere to hear about its support for Senator James Inhofe, described by a San Francisco Chronicle columnist as "the delusional or dishonest Oklahoma Republican" who has called global warming the "greatest hoax."

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VCs Hire Lots Of Women - But Not As VCs

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Humor Tumblr blog Jesus Christ, Silicon Valley uses Sheryl Sandberg's "Lean In" manifesto as an excuse to paint incredibly realistic renditions of Sand Hill Road's venture capitalist innovation warriors, and their offices. It's funny because it's true. 

He points out that VC offices are full of women:

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Hardware Is King, Software Is A Spoilt Brat Grown Fat Suckling On The Teats Of Chip Industry Innovation

Daniela Hernandez at Wired, interviewed the founders of DropCam, which uses cheap webcams for remote monitoring systems. For some reason, and a very wrong reason, Wired's editors decided on this headline:

Software Is Still King. Hardware Is Just Along for the Ride | Wired Business 

It's so very wrong and I'll explain why, as the chip industry's largest trade show, Semicon West opens this week in San Francisco.

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Silicon Valley Ageism? Survey Shows Tech Workers Are Very Young

Quentin Hardy on the New York Times Bits column, reports that a survey of tech companies by Payscale, shows a very young median age compared with the overall US average age of 42.3 years. There's a 16 year difference from the norm at some companies.

Technology Workers Are Young (Really Young) - NYTimes.com

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San Francisco 'Restore The Fourth' Protest Draws More than 400

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It was a spirited turnout for the Restore the Fourth march and protest attracting more than 400 people in San Francisco. The march and rally ended up at the AT&T building (ahove), which has housed an NSA spy room revealed by a whistle blower in 2006.

More photos and a short video:

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The Shocking Truth About Doug Engelbart: Silicon Valley's Sidelined Genius

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Tributes to the genius of computer pioneer Doug Engelbart are flooding the web following the announcement of his death at the age of 88. Yet in the final four decades of his life no one would fund him and he felt he had wasted the last years of his life.

His work transformed the way people use computers today by making them accessible and "personal." His seminal demo of computer graphical user interfaces using a mouse and keyboard transformed people's careers and changed the course of their lives -- even for those that weren't there but heard about it from others! [Doug Engelbart 1968 Demo]

However, despite all the accolades and testaments to his genius, Silicon Valley largely ignored him and he spent decades trying to find funding for his ideas, and even someone just to listen to him.

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Blowhard Techie Cheapskates – Real Estate Developer Hands Largest Ever Gift To Stanford: $151m

Our Silicon Valley techie visionaries are so busy changing the world that they draw the line at drawing-down their wealth. Not everyone is that short-sighted or greedy:

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Is it Data Journalism Or Fancy Infographics? Progress Isn't Fast Enough

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On Monday Note, Frederic Filloux,  French media watcher has a nice roundup of examples of "data journalism" and his headline says it is "improving – fast."

Here is an award-winning example (graphic is above):

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Reimagining The NSA As A Hybrid Public/Private Platform For New Jobs And Businesses

The National Security Agency could be rejigged as a self-funded entity fulfilling its missions while saving taxpayers billions of dollars and also providing them with a host of useful services. 

Its substantial computing platform and its superior security knowledge could jumpstart new jobs and businesses if the agency had a commercial arm.

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Where Are Silicon Valley's Counter-Culture Investors? There's Money To Be Made

In Wall Street fortunes are made by those that bet against the market because the breakout investment ideas are never found within the wisdom of the crowd. That's what hedge funds do and we know how incredibly successful some of them have become.

Silicon Valley investors run as a crowd and fund the same type of companies run by the same types of people. They invest in copy-cat, me-too startups by the dozens, and they only invest in teams that are nearly identical to each other: white or Asian males with a technical Ivy league education.

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Follow The Money...Connect The Dots - Future Revelations Of The Surveillance State

There's a saying in journalism, that if you want to get to the truth of a story, "follow the money."

The flow of money says much more about the truth of any action in this world than anything else.  Snooping on emails, phone calls, Facebook friend networks, whatever else, pales in comparison to the intelligence gained in knowing the money trail.

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Techno-Optimists Celebrated In Silicon Valley Visionary Awards

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(Steve Blank, left, next to Deborah Magid, Chair of SVForum, and Ray Kurzweil, at Visionary Awards press conference.) 

One of my high points of the year is attending the SVForum Visionary Awards because it's a chance to spend time with some of Silicon Valley's aristocracy in a relaxed summer party setting that brings out some great stories.

This year's winners represent some of the leading US tech-optimists but are not necessarily Silicon Valley's own. There was a strong showing of Singularitans, including their leader Ray Kurzweil, who recently moved here from Boston, taking a job at Google to be closer to his son who works as a VC.

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The BS 'Democratisation' Of Education By Online Ventures

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There's a revolution in education taking place, many people have told me about the excellent education people can get through online courses, many of them free, some of them from top schools.

It's a disruptive trend. No, it's not.

The top schools won't be disrupted, even most other schools won't be affected by free online education.

Even if you could sit in on any lecture at any top school, Harvard, Stanford, MIT, etc, it wouldn't help you much at all. Students will still be competing to get into those top schools, happy to mortgage their,  and their parents' futures, to pay to get into those top schools.

Because it's not about the education you get it's about the contacts you make. It's about joining a privileged group that takes care of its own throughout the rest of your life. The alumni associations and the other relationships you make are worth far more than the cost or even the quality of the education. It's not about knowing your subject, it's about who you know.

Take a look at this story from New York Magazine by Kevin Roose: How a 22-Year-Old Stanford Grad Won Silicon Valley’s Money Chase

Many 22-year-olds have struck it rich in tech, but rarely does one assemble the pieces of a start-up success story so methodically and quickly. The $25 million round Clinkle announced yesterday represented a near-perfect achievement of social and professional climbing. And it's all thanks to Stanford…

Stanford's computer-science department has become a sort of vocational school for the tech world. Stanford president John Hennessy is a Google director and a longtime tech investor. The Coupa Cafe, a coffee shop on campus, is perpetually jammed with venture capitalists meeting with student entrepreneurs. And every year, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and other tech giants line up to woo Stanford grads to their ranks.

This type of thing is what happens at other top schools too, across every type of profession. The best jobs go to graduates of these schools. Is it because of the education? It's because of the connections. 

Online education won't lead to a democratization of any kind. Money buys jobs and connections. The only thing online education courses will do is to up the ante on the skills needed for relatively low paying jobs. Employers will be able to demand skills that they might have had to pay much more for but now can expect workers to have as a base foundation.

Even then, low-tier schools have an advantage over a lone student working hard in their bedroom because even they have alumni networks and the connections with businesses that help their students find jobs.

 

The Unstoppable Exponential Growth In The State Of Surveillance

We will have Big Brother because we can: Surveillance systems both government run and commercial are powerful and cheap, and are getting cheaper and more powerful at an exponential rate. 

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Skimlinks Says Affiliate Payouts Short-Change Publishers

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I recently met with Alicia Navarro, CEO and co-founder of Skimlinks, a service that helps publishers monetize their sites by sharing affiliate partner revenues if readers buy products or services.

Skimlinks automatically adds a link to key words on a web page, if a reader clicks on that link and buys the product or service, Skimlinks gets paid a commission and splits the money with the publisher. 

However, Skimlinks has found that publishers are not getting the credit they deserve in the sales process. Buyers will often check out price comparison and other sites following their initial exposure to a product in an article. Those latter sites will overwrite the affiliate tracking cookies of the first site and claim the entire affiliate commission. Yet without the original article the sale would not have occurred.

Here are some notes from our conversation:

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San Francisco's Hipster Versus Hipster Culture Wars

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Food trucks cater to SF tech workers in mid-Market Street.

An endless parade of Google and other corporate buses picking up and dropping off workers in San Francisco is the most visible element of the social friction evident in some neighborhoods -- especially the rapid gentrification of the Mission Street area.

In an article in the San Francisco Chronicle's SFGate, columnist James Temple attempts a "defense of San Francisco's techies."

Last month, a group of gentrification protesters unleashed their rage on a piñata of a Google Bus... If we blame the wrong things for real problems - like unaffordable housing and gentrification - it's much harder to arrive at the right solutions.

 

 

 

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Bashing Silicon Valley Sells Magazines And Books

Here's Andrew Keen's synopsis on the latest from George Packer, a former New York Times journalist:

… there appears to be more and more criticism of Big Tech from mainstream, heavyweight American journalists like Nicholas Thompson and Paul Krugman. And leading the charge in this Silicon Valley bashing is the New Yorker staff writer and award-winning author George Packer.

In both his new book, The Unwinding, and particularly in his recent New Yorker story “Change The World”, Packer warns that the love affair is over and Silicon Valley has lost its resonance with the rest of America… the “massive wealth” in Mountain View and the rest of Silicon Valley makes it “as far from North Carolina as Burma."

Keen On… Silicon Valley: How We Need To Scale Down Our Self-Regard And Grow Up | TechCrunch

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How Secure Are The NSA Spy Lines?

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Many are concerned about the National Security Agency (NSA) collection of data on US companies and individuals and the very real possibility that it has a way of directly accessing the servers of the world's largest computing platforms: Google, Facebook, Microsoft, etc.

It's certainly a situation that deserves attention and concern. But what's missing in this discussion is this: how secure is the NSA's spying system? 

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Celebrating San Francisco's Internet (And TV) Archive

San Francisco has a fabulous global resource: The Internet Archives - founded by Brewster Kahle in 2001. It's housed in a former Christian Science church (above)  just a few blocks from Golden Gate park. About 500,000 people use it every day. 

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How Google Killed Online Advertsing For Everyone (Else)

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Image by Chris Dichtel.

The more I think about Google's recent introduction of paid channels on Youtube the more significant this event becomes in my mind.

[YouTube launches paid channels starting at $0.99 per month]

The reason is that it is an admission of the failure of its online ads. It's an admission that revenue splits with video producers can't cover their costs of production -- even for shows that have tens of millions of regular viewers.

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CultureWatch: Silicon Valley's Connection To Warsaw's Stunning New Museum Of Polish-Jewish History: Philanthropist Extraordinaire Tad Taube

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I recently visited the just-opened Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, a stunning $200m project, largely financed by the Warsaw regional and national governments, but with very strong support from the Bay Area's most impressive philanthropist: Tad Taube.

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Every Company Is A Media Company - My European Tour

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Above, I spoke at Burson-Marsteller's spectacular London offices.
I've been a lot of talking since arriving in London last week and Amsterdam this week on the subject of "every company is a media company" and what happens next.

I'll have a fuller report later this week but so far the reception has been excellent and there's quite a good understanding of the concept but a wide difference in how corporations and PR agencies are taking this message and moving forward -- or not.

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CultureWatch: Haight-Street Fair Upcoming, And The Remarkable Pablo Heising 'The Mayor Of Haight Street'

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I was walking along Haight Street and spotted a poster competition for the upcoming Haight Street Fair, June 9, which has always been one of the best San Francisco Street Fairs. For a long time it was organized by the wonderful Pablo Heising, a good friend and one of the neighborhoods best community leaders. 

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About SVW: Heading To London, Amsterdam, Berlin, And Warsaw - Presentations On Corporate Media EC=MC

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In three days I'm off to London for a week,  then Amsterdam, hopefully a few days in Berlin, and then Warsaw (above) returning in early June.

I'll be making a series of presentations around my favorite topic: "Every Company Is A Media Company - the transformative business equation of our times."

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Analysis: The Hand Of Retired CEO Andy Grove Is Seen In Intel's New Leadership

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Foremski's Take: Most Intel watchers are agreed, that Intel's new CEO, insider Brian Krzanich, is a safe choice but that Intel needed someone to "rock the boat." 

They miss the fact that Intel is a supertanker, you can't rock a supertanker no matter how much you jump up and down - you can just gradually change its direction.

What they also miss is the new Ms. in the executive office: Renee James, the new President, the partner to Mr. Krzanich in Intel's  "two-in-a-box" leadership team.

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As SVW Advised: Intel Doubles-Up On Leadership - Replaces CEO Paul Otellini with Brian Krzanich and Renee James

Intel's board has named Brian Krzanich and Renee James to replace retiring CEO Paul Otellini.

Intel names chief operating officer to succeed CEO Otellini, as chipmaker sees industry shift - Winnipeg Free Press

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A Product-Killer Meme: White Geeks Too Self-Conscious To Wear Their Google Glass In Public

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The "White Guys wearing Google Glass" is a killer meme, a potential product killer.

A friend who is a prominent geek, always a bit of a rebel and very comfortable with self-promotion,  is very concerned about posting a picture of himself wearing Google Glass.

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Meet Intel's King Makers - A Truly Exemplary Board Of Directors

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Intel's secret ace-in-the hole is that it has one of the world's top board of directors (above), a diverse and independent group of leaders – an exemplary example of corporate governance of the highest order. It scored a perfect ten by GovernanceMetrics International. Only 21 other boards have received this highest recognition, out of more than 2100 global corporations.

It's a board currently under tremendous pressure, and has just days to prove itself to shareholders, in one of the most important decisions it will ever make. 

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An Educational Problem: Digital Natives Are Naive Searchers

John Wihbey at Journalist's Resource has highlighted an important problem: Young people aren't very good at search. 

Since Google's algorithms have trouble in distinguishing between spam and good content,  a  search-based education isn't much use if students  don't know how to evaluate sources of information.

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Preserving The (French) Web -- Revisiting Its Ideals

CERN, in Switzerland is known for its maniacal obsession with the Higgs boson but it's also where the "Web" was invented.

The Pallab Ghosh, science correspondent for the BBC reports:

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Paris Is Putting "Entrepreneur" Back Into The French Language

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There's a story that George W. Bush once said, "The problem with the French is that they have no word for 'entrepreneur.'"

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Worries About The Web And Google's Place In It

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The above comment is from Aaron Wall's excellent SEOBook.com -- my go-to source for understanding search engine optimization and the algorithmic games that Google [$GOOG] plays with hundreds of thousands of businesses the world over.

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Robert Scoble's Naked Enthusiasm

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I've known Robert for many years and I love his unabashed, and unadorned genuine enthusiasm for many things. And he loves to express himself in authentic ways.

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A New Meaning To "Glassy Eyed Stare?"

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With no handheld screen to look down into, Google Glass wearers will be walking around like blind men, staring off into a void of their own.  "Glassy-eyed stare" will have a more literal meaning in the near future.

BTW,  here's a fascinating peek into Google's senior level exec meetings from Eric Schmidt - most of this digital elite can't make eye contact with each other.

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Google Glass Is A Great Idea For The Old And Demented

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Google Glass has a promissing future -- although not in the markets that Google thinks it's targetting: urban early-tech adopters -- they are a fickle bunch at best.

Where Google Glass will make its mark and find a large and loyal customer base is in helping families and communities deal with the ravages of old age.

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Google Glass - Innovating A Social Failure?

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I'm not a fan of Google Glass because I am absolutely certain it won't be socially acceptable to be video or audio recording people around you without their permission, or to be online constantly without others knowing. It's just creepy and people won't put up with people that wear them in their company.

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Jaron Lanier: Free Information Wants To Be Paid...

Jaron Lanier, an early Internet pioneer, talks with FT Business about the new digital economies, and why free information is not a good idea.

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A Tour: New Exploratorium Just Like The Old Exploratorium

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A special exhibit for the opening.

The new $300m revamp of the Exploratorium opens today and I'm glad to report that it looks and feels lot like the old Exploratorium at the Palace of Fine Arts but much larger, more exhibits, and more of everything. Here's a little tour:

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Wired Magazine Celebrates 20th! (Rescued By Chris Anderson And Team...)

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Adweek has a great article by Ted Greenwald on how Wired Magazine got its start. It has lots of interviews with the founders, including my good friend Fred Davis, a veteran senior publisher and editor at Ziff-Davis.

Here are a few excerpts from: Ted Greenwald Reconstructs the Invention of Wired Magazine a Pioneering Publication | Adweek

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Computer Pioneer Alan Kay Says Silicon Valley Is Running Out Of Innovation

 

Alan Kay is one of Silicon Valley's top computer pioneers due to his work with colleagues at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) on a broad range of technologies in the early 1970s that directly led to the creation of the PC industry -- a $35 trillion global business.

In the short video clip (above) he speaks about Silicon Valley's current boom being based on innovation that was funded by the government and by private companies such as Xerox, over a span of more than 13 years beginning in the early 1960s, which helped create the Internet and modern computing.

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Big Data And You: How Your 'Likes' Reveal Sexuality, Race, Drug Use, And Your Parents' Divorce

Facebook users that click "like" on a variety of cultural subjects reveal a surprisingly large amount of information about themselves even if they've taken steps to tighten up their privacy settings.

A recently published study by researchers at Cambridge University in the UK and Microsoft Research, used an automated analysis of 58,000 volunteers' Facebook "likes" to make highly accurate predictions about a person's private and very sensitive personal attributes. 

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Sean Maloney: The Man Who Could Have Led Intel

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Sean Maloney (above) spent nearly three decades being groomed for Intel's top job then he suffered a devastating stroke. Here's his remarkable story of recovery.

By Intel Free Press

On the car ride home from the hospital after suffering a stroke in February 2010, Intel executive Sean Maloney insisted that his wife take him to his boat. With little use of his right arm, he could only row in circles, but he was nonetheless determined to prove wrong his doctor's prognosis that he'd never row his scull again.

The same drive that got him back into his boat enabled him to re-learn how to speak and ultimately return to work to become chairman of Intel China, leading the company's largest market.

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WeekendWatcher: Fantasy Island - UK Columnist Julie Burchill Stranded On A Desert Island

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Julie Burchill is a unique journalist, she has a finely tuned sensibility in being able to push society's face just far enough into the gutter to draw blood and snot, but not hard enough to cause grievous bodily harm. And she doesn't hide her pleasure when she shreds society's buffoons in a verbal wood chipper.

Julie Burchill stranded on a desert island with no hope of return is a fantasy that many would love to come true.

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Rupert Murdoch Compared With Saint Augustine In Interview On WSJ

 

It's strange to see the Wall Street Journal running an interview with Rupert Murdoch, CEO of News Corporation, its owner.

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Where Is Intel's New CEO? Should There Be Two?


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Paul Otellini (left), succeeded Craig Barrett (center) as Intel CEO. Sean Maloney, right, was expected to be the next CEO.

With just weeks to go, Intel, the world's largest chipmaker has yet to name a new CEO even though it's had nearly four months since Paul Otellini made a surprise announcement that he would retire in May 2013.

This is a very unusual situation because Intel has a long tradition of providing a clear CEO succession path well ahead of any changes.

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WSJ Confirms SVW Scoop On NASDAQ Private Shares Market

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In October 2012 I spoke with Robert McCooey (above) NASDAQ's senior vice president of capital markets and new listings, who told me about plans to enter the private shares market.

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The Value Women Bring To Startups: Higher Revenues And Capital Efficiency

Here is a fascinating guest post infographic sent by Muhammad Saleem from the blog on http://www.onlinebusinessdegree.org/:

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Silicon Valley Remains King - Schadenfreude Festivities Postponed Yet Again


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1 Hacker Way, Facebook HQ - It acquired 16 startups in 2012.

Silicon Valley reported 226 private company acquisitions in 2012, well ahead of New York with 100 deals, and leagues ahead of any other US tech hub, reports PrivCo, which tracks such deals.

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The Steve Jobs Way: Intersecting Psychedelics And Technology

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The Psychedelic Society of San Francisco and Bay Area Software Engineers (BASE) hosted a talk earlier this week by John Markoff (above), Senior Science reporter at the New York Times, that discussed the influence of 1960s counter culture on the development of the computer industry.

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SFMusicTech Summit: Musicians And Geeks Searching For New Business Models

 

This video (at top), provides a recap of the day's events, panels, and discussions. Also, check out Josh Constine at the 19.56 mark..

The SFMusicTech Summit earlier this week drew a great turnout at the Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco. 

There were a lot of artists mixing with a lot of geeks from a wide variety of startups, all trying to figure out the new business models for music in an age where few people pay (much) for music because of its ubiquity in free online sources such as Youtube, Grooveshark, or monthly subscription services such as Spotify and Rdio.

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Edelman Global Survey Finds Lack Of Trust Has Become Contagious

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From left: Peter Burrows, Eric Brown, Mary Dent, Richard Edelman, Jeffrey Pfeffer.

Richard Edelman, the head of the world's largest privately held PR firm, said that the Edelman Trust Barometer, an annual global survey of 31,000 people, revealed a lack of trust for business and government that was "contagious" and spreading to other sectors.

He was speaking earlier this week at the Computer History Museum on a panel organized by the Churchill Club, and moderated by Peter Burrows, senior reporter at Bloomberg.

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Video: Edelman's Debate On 'Trust' At Churchill Club

 

Edelman PR sponsored a debate on "Trust" Monday evening at the Computer History Museum. Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman PR discussed some of the findings of the 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer global survey. Here are some extracts. A full report is coming...

Moderated by Peter Burrows (far left) senior writer at Bloomberg; next is Eric Channing Brown, GM of Integrated Communications at Skype; Mary Dent, General Counsel at Silicon Valley Bank; Richard Edelman, CEO Edelman Public Relations; Jeffrey Pfeffer, professor at Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

Saturday Post: Corporate Media In The Bubble Of Content Inflation

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My 2013 prediction warned of the continued fall in the value of online content which would lead to the production of ever more content as media companies tried to maintain ad revenues.

You can think of it as a towering tsunami of content, or as a massive bubble of content inflation.

Just as inflation devalues currencies, content inflation is devaluing content.

Ryan McCarthy, Deputy Editor of Reuters.com, and the former Business Editor of the Huffington Post, comes to a similar conclusion.

In: Another blog post that won't make any money | MediaFile | Analysis & Opinion | Reuters.com

He writes:

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From Silicon Valley To Media Valley - A Giant Gutenberg Machine Of Programmable Media

Watch Silicon Valley on PBS. See more from American Experience.

The superb American Experience documentary series on PBS finally cast its focus on Silicon Valley yesterday evening in an 82 minute program largely focused on the founders of Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel.

The heroes of the story are eight scientists, in mechanical, electrical, metallurgical, and optical engineering, and a chemist.

It's a story that takes place more than half-a-century ago, when the "traitorous eight" left  their employer Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory en masse because their boss, William Shockley, had become grossly egotistical and a horror to work with. He sounded like an early version of Steve Jobs, the Apple co-founder.

It was shocking to leave an employer, which is why they were called traitors. In those days loyalty was expected, as were the lifelong careers that companies provided. And it's this "traitorous" culture that continues to grow Silicon Valley, as people continually leave to create new startups.

American Experience also showed the close connection to the US Department of Defense and how military spending was the prime source of money for new ventures for a very long time.

Foremski's Take:

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To Those That Would Martyr Aaron Swartz: Where Were The Activists When He Needed Them?

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Early this week, Hamish McKenzie attended a memorial for Aaron Swartz, the young activist who committed suicide while being prosecuted for downloading millions of academic papers.

He writes:

Berin Szoka, the president of the group TechFreedom, offered some words that were uncomfortable for some. Speaking of the Internet activist's alleged crime of downloading millions of academic articles, Szoka stepped out of the night's orthodoxy of holding Swartz up as a hero.

"I cannot condone what Aaron did," Szoka started, about to launch into an argument about how Internet freedom should not be a partisan issue. He was cut off before he could go any further.

Foremski's Take: The future of Aaron Swartz has nothing to do with Aaron Swartz and has everything to do with agendas of digital libertarians and related activists.

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Crunchies 2012: Techmeme Wins Award And So Do Other, Mostly Older Startups

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It was good to see Techmeme, the news aggregator, win an award Thursday evening for "Best Bootstrapped Startup." Techmeme founder Gabe Rivera (below).

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Advice To Marketeers And Others Not On Facebook And/Or Twitter

I meet a lot of people in my job, many of them are in communications, marketing, or media, some of them hate Facebook and/or Twitter with passion.

They typically say that they won't join because they don't believe in them. I typically respond that these aren't mythological creatures, Santa Claus, or a God that requires belief.

They don't require a highly emotional response. You don't have to like them. Or hate them. They are what they are. 

I tell them that you should be on them because you work in marketing, communications, or media, you need to know about these media channels.

You can't read about them, you need to be in them to know them, to see how people are using them. 

You need to know what's acceptable in those communities, what people are sharing and not sharing, what events they are going to, what they are saying to each other and how they say it. You need to know these things. 

You should be on them because if you are not then you won't know when things change, and they change constantly.

You don't need to be active on them, you can lurk.

You don't need to share what you had for lunch, or the other inane stuff you complain about that others share, or that you heard they share. Share good stuff or don't. But you need to be on them.

You need to be on them before others find out that you're not.

Aaron Swartz Memorial in SF - Our First Digital Liberties Martyr?

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I attended the Aaron Swartz memorial Thursday evening at the Internet Archive building (above) in San Francisco where several hundred people gathered to mourn his passing.

It was an excellent turnout organized by Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle and supporters. And it was a perfect setting, in a wonderful former Christian Science church (see below). 

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Epic Fail: Massively Multiplayer Online Mysogyny

Standing up to bullies always works, especially the online kind, you know the ones, the ones with no balls and small brains that they keep in their pants.

Brilliant TED video here, hat tip to Beth Rogozinski,  and Rebecca Eisenberg on Upworthy.com.

When Anita Sarkeesian announced plans to do a video series exploring the portrayal of women in video games, she became the victim of a massive online attack choreographed by members of the gaming community who cast her as the "villain" in their online "game" to ruin her life. It did not go well for them. 

A Bunch Of Sad, Insecure Dudes Attacked A Woman And Everyone Got What They Deserved

MediaWatch: Digital Disruption Continues At Financial Times - Where's The Funding Model For Serious Journalism?

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Newspapers face uncertain paths to a brighter future.

The Financial Times said it would try to eliminate 35 editorial jobs through voluntary means and add 10 jobs as part of its focus on "digital" and a move away from news to "a networked business."

Lionel Barber, Editor of the Financial Times, announced the changes in an email to staff. He wrote that a trip to Silicon Valley in September had "confirmed the speed of change."

The FT plans to shift resources from the production of the print editions to its online news and services. This will be done by eliminating late editions and greater standardization between newspaper editions for the UK, US, and world.

The job cuts appear to be focused on restructuring production desks but it will depend on who accepts the voluntary redundancies. The FT has about 600 editorial jobs.

...we must stick to the tested practices of good journalism: deep and original reporting based on multiple sources and a sharp eye for the scoop. But we must also recognise that the internet offers new avenues and platforms for the richer delivery and sharing of information.

We are moving from a news business to a networked business.

Mr Barber did not explain what type of "networked business" the FT is planning to build. He stressed the importance of "serving a digital platform first" but also that print "is still a vital source of advertising revenues."

Foremski's Take:

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2013 Prediction: The Unstoppable Rise Of Corporate Media ... And The Deflationary Spiral Of All Media Content

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When it comes to making industry predictions I always resolve not to make any, but as you can see, I have trouble keeping my new year's resolutions.

Two year's ago I made the same resolution and failed when I wrote: 2010 Prediction: The Media Tsunami Is Coming...

The media is dead, long live the media. We now have more media, in more formats, in more times of the day and night, from more people -- than at any other time in history. And we will get even more in 2010.

When I talk about media, I mean anything and all things that are published: news stories, magazine articles, TV, radio, video, music, advertising, photos, web pages, and of course social media. All of it, all the media that's fit to print and all that isn't. 

The low cost of the tools to make media content is a big driver, more important however, are the media hungry platforms that make it easy to publish anything and distribute it widely. One-click uploading to Youtube, or Facebook, or wherever, it's all very easy to create and publish media. A tsunami of media.

Tsunamis come in waves...


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SAP Launches Real Time Business Apps Suite

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SAP, the world's largest business software company, launched a suite of enterprise business applications running on its real-time platform HANA, that it says provides massive increases in performance and advanced analytics capabilities.

The company provides most of the world's largest business groups with enterprise IT applications used to run their core business operations.

Hasso Plattner (above), SAP co-founder and chairman, announced the business software suite at SAP's Silicon Valley Research campus, as part of a global launch in New York, and Frankfurt, Germany.

He said that the increase in business app performance is so great that SAP had been accused of "hype" by sceptics. Some applications can run several hundred percent or more faster on the HANA platform, largely because the underlying database technology is loaded into massive solid state drives.

"This will change how our customers do business and they are very excited," he said. "We are even winning over startups, they are saying that they never thought they would be working with SAP."

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Google's Red Herring Car And The Obscure Nature Of Its Business

The Googleplex - Google's HQ from above [$GOOG]. Credit: Tom Foremski

It's remarkable how few journalists understand Google's business and how what it does or doesn't do affects massive volumes of commerce around the globe.

If I were running the New York Times I would keep half-a-dozen journalists focused on Google 24/7 because it's that important.

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Tufin: Rethinking The Enterprise Security Model

I recently spoke with Ruvi Kitow, CEO and co-founder of Tufin Technologies, which provides firewall policy management tools for very large companies.

Tufin is interesting because it is rethinking the way firewalls should be managed. It's because of rise in the number of applications being produced by enterprises.

Firewall administrators are spending more of their time dealing with application related change requests. Yet the app developers know little about firewalls and potential conflicts, or security holes. Earlier this year, Tufin launched SecureApp, a suite of admin tools to help manage this important security relationship between apps and firewalls.

This application centric approach to enterprise security is a different way of thinking about security. Here are some notes from our conversation:

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Delphix - SVW 2012 Startup of the Year - A Standout Company With Standout Leadership

A stuffed squirrel sits on the wall behind Delphix founder and CEO Jedidiah Yueh.


I meet with huge numbers of companies every year but it's rare for me to come across a company that excites me as much as Delphix - easily my choice for Silicon Valley Watcher's 2012 Startup of the Year.

Delphix founder Jed Yueh is just 37 years old and will undoubtably become one of Silicon Valley's next generation of leaders and success stories. His focus, his discipline, and his intellect are striking -- and it's these qualities of leadership that sets Delphix apart from the many thousands of startups in the extraordinary global innovation engine that is Silicon Valley.

I visited the company earlier this year shortly after it had raised $25 million in an over-subscribed C-round led by Jafco Ventures, with Battery Ventures joining existing investors Greylock Partners and Lightspeed Venture Partners.

I was impressed by the company's technologies and its business strategy. Mr Yueh is determined to build, rather than sell, one of the next great tech companies of Silicon Valley.

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General Electric Woos Silicon Valley - CEO Immelt Wants Help Building The 'Industrial Internet'

Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE (center) shares the stage with a giant GE jet engine, at a recent debate with Marc Andreessen, right, moderated by Chris Anderson.

General Electric has seen the future and it's called the "Industrial Internet" a vast high speed network linking the world's manufacturing systems and industrial machines, and it wants Silicon Valley to help build it.

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Public Relations In The Era Of Pageview Journalism

Ryan Holiday, writing for the New York Observer, has discovered something very important about the media industry today:

The widespread belief is that the media has "reach." Trust me, they don't. Not anymore. It's become almost pathetic.

It hit me the other day when I snagged a profile for a client on a well-known website...

Dear God, I realized, my client has more readers than they do. The website needed us to attract an audience for them. They wanted the subject of the piece to send his readers over to them rather than the other way around.

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Fake Press Releases Highlight Negative SEO Danger For Real Press Releases

SearchEngineLand has a very good, long look at the recent fake press release announcing Google's $400m acquisition of WiFi company ICOA.

PRWeb distributed the press release and said it slipped through its internal tests for "integrity."

Danny Sullivan explains how PRWeb has become a popular distribution network for a lot of content, some of it shady, and how it ends up on well respected newspaper sites.

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Chris Anderson: "3D Printing Will Be Bigger Than The Web"

Chris Anderson has exited one of the top jobs in publishing - Editor-in-Chief of Wired magazine - to pursue the life of an entrepreneur, making a big bet that 3D printers represent a massive new phase of the industrial revolution.

He spoke at a Wired "Culturazzi" event, at the Marriott Union Square and to sign copies of his latest book: "Makers: The New Industrial Revolution."

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TEDxSF: The Challenge Of Healthcare For 7 Billion

'X' marks the spot for TEDxSF at the Mission Bay Conference Center.

The TEDxSF events are among the best of the best TEDx regional events in the country. It's a tremendous amount of work for the organizers, such as Christine Mason McCaull, which is her ninth (and final) TEDx, but its tremendous value for the hundreds that attend.

The event was held at the visually stunning UC Mission Bay conference center, with the theme "7 Billion Well."

The day was filled to the brim with excellent speakers, here are some of them.

A few photos from the event:

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Out&About: SNCR's 2012 Awards Gala

Katie Paine from KDPaine and Partners received three awards, with MC Paul Gillin.

I recently attended the Society for New Communications Research (SNCR) 2012 Awards event and conference. I love the people and the conversations and the ideas that come from SNCR events.

I'm proud to be a Founding Fellow of SNCR. If you'd like to find out about becoming a SNCR fellow you can find information here. http://www.sncr.org/

Some photos from the event:

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Is Corporate Media The New Funding Model For Serious Journalism?

As the business models for serious journalism continue to erode where will we get the quality media we need as a society to make important decisions about our future?

I've been warning people: "Special interest groups will gladly pay for the media they want you to read, but you won't pay for the media you need to read."

Software engineers have a saying: GIGO, garbage in, garbage out.

If you start with garbage data you will get a garbage result. That's the future we are heading towards, a future where our media is corrupted with information that serves the goals of special interest groups.

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Brand Journalism And The Unstoppable Rise Of Corporate Media

Last week's panel on brand journalism at the Holmes Report's Global PR Summit in Miami was fabulous. We lost control of the conversation and made so much noise in our room, people from other panels were coming over, curious to see what was happening.

My fellow panelists were John Earnhardt from Cisco (Cisco is my original inspiration for 'every company is a media company'), Jesse Noyes from Eloqua, and Simon Sproule from Nissan Motor Co.

Morgan McLintic from Lewis PR was excellent as the moderator and we didn't waste time getting deep into discussion.

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Can PR People Become Brand Journalists? What Is It?

I'm in Miami this week taking part in the Holmes Global PR Summit and the topic of "Brand Journalism."

I know nothing about the subject but no one else does either because it's a made up term that is in the early stages of being defined. Nothing wrong in that, I do it all the time but I try to think of concepts that make sense and this one doesn't make any sense at all.

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Exclusive: NASDAQ Plans To Unify Private Shares Markets

NASDAQ has plans to unify US private shares markets and introduce set periodic trading periods in a bid to reduce volatility and improve liquidity in shares of startups.

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Dublin Web Summit - Some Notes And Images From Ireland's Tech Community


I met a lot of very impressive Irish entrepreneurs on my recent visit to the Dublin Web Summit. Here's some notes from our conversations (at least the ones I remember, due to a delicious local brew called Guinness :).

Iain MacDonald (above), co-founder of Skillpages, has had a very successful career so far, a $100 million exit for his company Perlico, and is now running one of Ireland's fastest growing companies.

He says that Ireland needs more mid-level financing options in the $20m to $30m range to help startups expand. While there have been many good exits for Irish startups over the past five years, they often have little choice to selling because expansion financing isn't available.

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Irish Entrepreneurs: Serial Founders And Flounders...

At the Dublin Web Summit there's an ever expanding group of successful entrepreneurs that have founded great companies and won very large exits. There's also many founders who have floundered but are back in the game, more than willing to try, try and try again.

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Big Exits Make Ireland's Serial Entrepreneurs - Pride In Irish Teams

My first night in Dublin for the Web Summit was to kick off with drinks, in advance of a pub crawl, which was to lead to a big dinner for attendees, and then after-hours drinks. Fortunately for my liver my evening started off really well because I met the remarkable Jerry Kennelly, founder of Tweak.com (above).

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Dublin Web Summit - Ireland's Bright Spot In A Troubled Economy

Ireland's economy is retrenching from fast growth over the past decade when the "Celtic Tiger" produced one of the richest standards of living.

While there is a lot of doom and gloom in Dublin, the country's high tech sector is booming and the best representation of that health is the Dublin Web Summit, an annual conference held at the Dublin Royal Society (above).

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Committee To Protect Journalists And Theil Foundation Celebrates Muckraking Journalists

I popped into Harry Denton's Starlight room on top of the Sir Francis Drake for an event organized by the Committee to Protect Journalists and The Thiel Foundation honoring leading African journalists risking their lives for free speech.

These included:

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Financial Times: Every Company Will Have To Become A Media Company

Financial Times Media Editor Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson wrote an interesting article:

PR and news boundaries are being redrawn - FT.com

His report concludes that

... search and social media trends suggest corporate content will only grow. Whether media outlets like it or not, every company will have to become a content company.

It's good to see that this important concept becoming mainstream. I've been pointing this out since early 2005.

At the moment, PR and marketing people own this topic. What's needed is input from top media professionals who aren't employees. Because PR and marketing people will meddle and produce corporate marketing speak, and that's not progress.

(Hat tip: Robert Manetta.)


Out&About: Taploid & Blipboard; GAFFTA Arts Fundraiser And UP Festival

Thursday evening was busy there were so many events, I could only make it to some of them. I popped into Taploid and Blipboard launch parties at the Phoenix Hotel. I had an interesting chat with Mike Barnes, co-founder of Blipboard (above, with Heather Meeker), which came out of stealth mode at this week's DEMO conference.

Here's a description of Blipboard from Elaine Fiolet at Ubergizmo:

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SVW Named "Must Read IT Blogs Of 2012"

I was pleased to make the list of Biztech's "50 Must-Read IT Blogs 2012." Ricky Ribeiro reported:

This year, we decided to invite our readers to throw their suggestions into the ring as well. The response to our call fornominations was amazing. We received 1,159 votes from more than 400 people, so a huge thanks to everyone who contributed to this year's list.

Thank you everyone!


Intel's Battle With ARM Is About Making Its Future Fabs Viable

Many Intel watchers are concerned that the world's largest semiconductor company hasn't been able to break into the smart phone and tablet markets, which will lead to serious consequences.


Intel barely registers a blip as a supplier to smartphone and tablet makers yet it dominates all other microprocessor markets. British chip design company ARM has a near monopoly because they use less battery power and can be easily customized for each product.

How is it that a small 27 year old company like ARM, which reported just $213 million in revenues in its most recent quarter, is considered such a huge threat to Intel, which reported $13.5 billion, nearly 64 times as much?

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A New Type Of PC: Perceptual Computers - Moving Beyond Touch Interfaces

By Intel Free Press

Humans can typically understand spoken words, hand gestures and facial expressions at an early age. Yet computers, even after decades of evolution, still struggle to interpret them.

That's about to change, according to tech industry experts who see so-called perceptual computing as the next step in controlling computer devices.

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The Future Of Tech Journalism In A Post-Technology World

Tech journalists swarmed into Yerba Buena in San Francisco earlier this week to cover the much anticipated Apple iPhone 5 launch. Some news organizations sent multiple reporters, Fortune sent five.

That's quite an over kill to cover the launch of a product that turned into an iYawn. The iPhone 5.0 is about 20% thinner and lighter than the previous model, with a slightly larger display.

This small improvement in a mass produced consumer product resulted in a flood of news coverage. Yet just yards from where the legions of the tech press were packed into a dark theater for a very long Apple product pitch, Intel, the world's largest chip company, was holding its Intel Developer Conference (IDF) where it was releasing details of its next generation Haswell microprocessor, and discussing where it sees the future of computing.

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There's Gold In Techno-Pessimism

Andrew Keen is probably one of the best known techno-pessimists and his services as a speaker are in high demand.

[I used to work with Mr Keen at Podtech where I was helping develop a range of tech-related video shows.]

Mr Keen has spent many years lamenting the fall in quality of our culture because of amateurs rewriting our encyclopedias (Wikipedia) and competing with high quality TV (Youtube videos of skateboarding cats) and the decline of professional journalists and editors (and the rise of blogs).

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GE Software: A Massive Startup In The Bay Area

One of the largest startups in and around Silicon Valley is GE Global Software in San Ramon, California, a brand new division of giant General Electric, built from scratch into an organization of 400 engineers, growing to as many as 800 software engineers and researchers by year end.

Betting big on software is a key business strategy for GE. The business group's annual revenues were more than $142 billion in 2012. In 2008 they were nearly $180 billion. Software businesses have high profit margins especially if they can be applied across a large user base. 

Software is a far more scalable business than services, which are constrained by staff numbers. And software can be used to help scale some types of services and save on staff costs, all great reasons for GE to invest in software. 

Its goal is to create a unique asset, a cutting edge software group capable of supporting the many varied business groups that make up GE's industrial conglomerate. From monitoring jet engines to building sustainable energy projects, the breadth of GE's software needs cross a wide spectrum of applications.

It will require common software platforms that can integrate many different applications, plus development of cutting edge user interfaces, and the integration of hundreds of tools and third party technologies.

It's a massive undertaking that's being led by William Ruh, vice president and director of the Software group. He was formerly vice president at Cisco Systems, where he headed global development of services and solutions.

I visited GE Software at it's headquarters in San Ramon (above), a place that locals like to describe as being half-way between San Francisco and Silicon Valley, (if you head 30 miles east of both).

Here are some notes from my meeting with Mr Ruh (photo top).

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Improving Web Site Quality Could Sink Your Google Rank

My recent post about Google's battle with spammers seems to have confused some people in the Search Engine Optimization industry.

There's a perception that I'm advising web sites not to improve the quality of their content. I'm not advising anything, I'm reporting that a little known Google patent appears to be playing a major role in how a post-Panda Google now ranks web sites and web pages. It also explains some of the bizarre, random changes in rankings that have bedeviled SEO efforts by webmasters.

If Google detects that a web page has been changed between visits from its spider, it will check to see if the changes are designed to improve the rank of that page in its search index. This will flag the site as a potential spammer and trigger a reassessment of the site's rank in Google's index. In between the reassessment the site's rankings will fluctuate randomly.

This creates the situation where if a site owner tries to improve the quality of a page, by rewriting passages to make them clearer, adding additional information, links, video, etc, this could result in a spammer flag from Google, and a period of randomly fluctuating index ranking. Thus, trying to improve the quality of your site could sink your rank.

Yet Google is constantly telling web sites to improve the quality of their content to gain a better ranking.

That's a seriously messed up situation.


Any SEO -- White Hat Or Black -- Could Flag You As A Spammer - SVW


Is Search Broken? Does Google Trick SEOs With Random SERP Ranking Changes?


Any SEO -- White Hat Or Black -- Could Flag You As A Spammer

I've always advised people not to worry about search engine optimization (SEO) with the explanation that it's the job of the search engine to optimize its performance -- not yours.

Over on SEOBook, there's a great article pointing out how Google is now measuring any attempt at raising the rank of a web page as the work of a spammer -- no matter the quality of the content -- and it will penalize the site.

Any attempt to modify the rank of a web page, after it's been ranked, could spell disaster for the site owner.

A little known Google patent called Ranking Documents details what Google is looking at. Here is the explanation:

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'Every Company Is A Media Company' Is Fueling M&A

For many years I've been saying that every company is a media company and writing about what that means and its importance to business.

At first people were puzzled by that statement but these days it is much better understood. Its importance has increased tremendously and it is now fueling multi-million dollar acquisitions.

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Has TED 'Become An Insatiable Kingpin Of International Meme Laundering'?

(Gopi Kallayil, head of Google+ speaking at TEDxBerkeley earlier this year.)

TED, the Technology, Entertainment, Design conference, has expanded its brand across the globe over the past two years, with hundreds of local TEDx conferences, and more recently, with its own books imprint, TED Books.

TED organizers always choose their speakers well and there is rarely a dud among them. It is excellent curation under the aegis of "Ideas Worth Spreading."

But choosing which authors to publish under the TED Books brand appears to be more challenging than booking a speaker for a 17 minute talk.

Evgeny Morozov, writing in The New Republic, tears TED Books a new binding with his demolition review of Hybrid Reality: Thriving in the Emerging Human-Technology Civilization - By Parag Khanna and Ayesha Khanna.

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The Fast Unravelling Web: How Google Is Killing The Hyperlink

Corp-Vac.jpg

There is something extraordinary taking place. Google's war on spam sites is tipping the online world upside down and now threatens that most fundamental element of the world wide web: the hyperlink. There is a massive erasure underway of millions of links and it will only accelerate.

The communications lines are the spider's silk but it's the links that make the structure of the web. But because of Google's battle with spammers, the hyperlink could disappear in its current form, and become a commercial product that's bought and sold, instead of earned fair and square.

Let me explain:

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Women In Silicon Valley VC Firms: Equal Partners Or Just Publicists?

I used to know Margit Wennmachers, co-founder of Outcast Communications, a prominent San Francisco PR firm, fairly well and noted with interest when a press release in mid-2010 announced she had left Outcast and joined the VC firm Andreessen Horowitz as a partner.

I remember thinking that it was a good move for her, she had diligently stayed on for her earn-out years following the sale of Outcast to Next Fifteen Communications in 2005, and now she could sit back a bit and invest her hard earned wealth.

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'Access Journalism' - An Insidious Corruption of Silicon Valley Reporters

David Weidner, a 15 year veteran reporter on the Wall Street beat, recently wrote an interesting article about his observations:

So long, suckers -- I'm leaving Wall Street - MarketWatch

He notes that much has changed and a lot hasn't in his 15 years. Presumably to mark each of his years covering the financial services sector he came up with 15 "takeaways."

The one that caught my eye was number 3:

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Smart Money Versus Dumb Money - Silicon Valley's War With Wall Street

Here's Roger McNamee on BloombergTV hyping his unfortunately named "The Hypernet," and blaming NASDAQ and Wall Street greed on the botched Facebook [$FB] IPO.

It's worth a watch:


http://www.bloomberg.com/video/facebook-ipo-shows-extreme-corruption-mcnamee-says-BLhoC6ayQFOFXSwaBaYAfQ.html


Foremski's Take: Roger McNamee's claims of a corrupted process for the Facebook IPO, involving NASDAQ and Wall Street firms, seems too perfect an explanation for the flop. The real reason the Facebook IPO failed is much simpler: the "smart money" couldn't convince the "dumb" money to buy.

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Media Under Seige: Billionaire Gina Rinehart Changes Strategy On Fairfax Media

Man-Vs-machine.jpg

BBC News reports that mining mogul Gina Rinehart, one of the world's richest people, has reduced her stake in troubled Fairfax Media, Australia's second largest media group.

Ms Rinehart, whose wealth is estimated at more than $29 billion, has been trying to win control of three board seats at Fairfax, and wants control over the hiring and firing of editors. Her goal is to oppose the Australian government from pursuing mining and carbon tax plans that could protect the environment at the expense of her iron-ore mining business.

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Lessons From Cisco's 'the network' - The Corporation As A Media Company

Cisco in SF (19 of 354)-1.jpg

Earlier this week I popped into the Grand Hyatt on Union Square (above) for Cisco's celebration of the first anniversary of publishing "the network" an online publication that employs a large group of top editors and journalists.

Autumn Truong (below), Senior Social Media Strategist at Cisco, first told me about the imminent launch of the media venture back in September 2010. But it took an additional nine months before it was ready.

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Are You Ready For The Human--Cell Phone Mind Meld?

JoshuaSmith.jpg

("You think you like your cell phone now? Imagine when they can read your thoughts," says researcher Joshua Smith (above))

By Intel Free Press

Sensors are everywhere around us from smartphone touchscreens to elevator buttons to thermostats. These sensor devices, which receive and respond to a signal, are a linchpin of the so-called "Internet of Things." As they become smaller, cheaper and require less power they are being deployed in more places that we encounter every day - whether we are aware of it or not.

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Is CliQr The Key To Google's IT Ambitions?

CliQr Technologies today emerged from stealth mode with the announcement of a cloud based service that can port large enterprise applications to any cloud platform in under one day.

If the Palo Alto based startup can deliver on its promise it could result in significant IT cost savings. Enterprise applications are notoriously difficult to rewrite for cloud platforms and their performance can be unpredictable.

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Competitive Coding And Dreams Of Winning A Medal At The Olympics of Informatics

Hackathons everywhere, most weekends there's probably one near you. Hundreds of app developers competing for cash, trips, and seed capital.

This past weekend, AOL in Palo Alto (above), hosted angelHACK, where several hundred developers, mostly in their mid-to-late twenties, competed in small teams, over a sleepless 48 hours.

But those events are easy-peasy compared with international coding competitions, such as the qualifying rounds for the International Olympiad in Informatics, (IOI). Getting there involves grueling rounds of regional competitions with devilishly hard computational problems. You have to think hard, fast, and creatively. It's an experience that can transform good coders into great coders - or it can send you home feeling beaten and humbled.

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Is This Why Larry Ellison Bought Lanai?

LanaiVolcano.jpeg

Larry Ellison has assured residents of Lanai, the Hawaiian island he has purchased for about $500 million, that he plans no changes to their homes and resorts.

But what about below ground? The Lanai volcano is dormant, it last erupted about 1.2 million years ago. Perfect for being hollowed out and turned into the world's best billionaire hangout.

If he starts buying high-energy lasers from failed fusion reactor ventures, we might need to start worrying a little bit.


Salman Khan: A Low-Tech High-Impact Visionary

(Above, is a brief extract of Salman Khan's speech at SVForum 2012 Visionary Awards.)

I had the enormous privilege of shaking the hand of Salman Khan, at the SVForum Visionary Awards earlier this week.

I thanked him for showing the world that public education can be enormously boosted through simple means.

For years I've railed at the poor state of Silicon Valley's public schools. For years I've reminded this community that we can't tell the world we are inventing the future if our public infrastructure, our schools, are in such a poor state.

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SVForum Visionary Awards 2012 - Photos

The SVForum Visionary Awards were excellent, as usual. Here are some photos in a slideshow format of Silicon Valley's top innovators and investors celebrating this year's winners. I will be posting videos of the speeches and other photos as I process them, so please check back.





Jim Breyer, Partner and President, Accel Partners
In April 2011, Forbes published its Midas List of top technology investors and ranked Jim Breyer #1.

Salman Khan, Educator
Salman Khan (Sal) founded the Khan Academy as a nonprofit with the mission of providing free, high-quality education for "anyone, anywhere" in the world.

David Kirkpatrick, Journalist and Author
Author and journalist David Kirkpatrick is founder and CEO of Techonomy Media. Kirkpatrick was for many years senior editor at Fortune Magazine.

Elon Musk, Chairman, Product Architect and CEO
Elon Musk is CEO and Product Architect of Tesla Motors and CEO/CTO of Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), where he is the chief designer, overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. Elon co-founded PayPal.


Millennials And The Backlash Against 'Creepy Stalker' Technologies

Melanie Shreffler, editor-in-chief of Ypulse, a youth market research firm, wrote an interesting article recently:

It's Possible There's Too Much Technology In Our Lives, Even For Millennials

We're seeing a little backlash despite all the benefits because technology is becoming something of a creepy stalker.

###

We noticed this recently in two commercials, one for cable company Optimum in which young parents talk about how their baby was on Facebook before she was even born and how her first steps will be broadcast on YouTube.

In a separate commercial for a Samsung smart TV, a family hangs out in their living room using voice and gesture controls to operate their TV -- at the end, the proud mother is wowed when her toddler learns to say, "Hi TV," speaking to the set to turn it on.

Both commercials cross the creepy line when technology is no longer about enabling our lives but begins to feel like a living, breathing member of the family. Millennials are noticing their own interactions are often filtered through a screen, even when they're in the same room with their friends.

The panelists at the Millennial Mega Mashup described a love/hate relationship with technology for that very reason. They even call their friends out when they see them staring at a screen instead of paying attention to the people they're with, but the behavior persists.

We're even seeing that technology is sometimes getting a bad rap in youth-focused media. In "The Hunger Games," the Capitol uses technology to control the population as they're forced to view the games, and the game designers use it to torment the tributes.

...

In reality, Millennials wouldn't choose a life without technology (we dare you to try to take a cell phone away from a teenager), but they're conscious of the effect it's having on them and their relationships.

Marketers need to walk a fine line in presenting tech to tweens, teens, and 20-somethings -- it should be shown as improving their communication and relationships, not dictating their lives.

Foremski's Take:

The backlash that Ms Shreffler describes seems very real given my anecdotal experiences with my kids and their friends.

There's huge, sometimes obsessive interest in "Millennials" by the tech industry and marketers but there are a lot of myths about how they behave online, and with each other.

When I look at my kids, just turned 18 year old daughter and 24 year old son -- and their friends, they aren't the share-everything, technophile evangelists that you might expect them to be, or at least those people without kids imagine those generations to be like.

They are extremely careful about what they share online, and they don't jump on every consumer tech bandwagon there is, and they certainly do not believe everything they read online.

For example, my daughter chooses not to have a cell phone, she has a relatively new iMac and an iPod Touch and is quite content. My son is very well equipped with tech stuff, new Macbook Pro, iPhone, etc, but doesn't share much at all online and can even go days without his phone. Their friends seem similar in their attitudes to tech.

And they certainly don't like the way commercial interests portray them in ads, or in the assumptions they make about them. And the more that marketers try to capture the essence of young people, in their seemingly clever ad campaigns, the more they will be pushed away.

That's just the way it is and no amount of market research and study can change that because to them it means that the mainstream has caught up with their sub-cultures and it's time to move on.

Companies that try to be early in spotting and commercializing a youth sub-culture are engaged in a risky strategy. They might win some nods from peers, but in their target groups, they are far more likely to induce feelings of revulsion rather than "Like."

Older generations, such as mine, are probably bigger technophiles, and often seem to be more obsessed with tech gadgets than younger generations; and can be very clueless about what they share online, far more often than you might think.

It often seems as if it's the older generations that are the wanna be "Millennials," as portrayed in the popular mindset, while the real ones are more like what we should be: healthily blasé and selective about tech, and hyper-aware about their online activities and privacy.


Because Disruptive Technologies Disrupt -- New Layoffs In Media Industry... And More To Come

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Fairfax, the second largest Australian newspaper publisher, said it would cut 1900 jobs, almost 20% of its staff. I was asked for comment by the Australian Broadcast Corporation, which was concerned about the effect on independent news from the loss of hundreds of top journalists.

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I said that it will have a very bad effect because well-financed special interest groups will have a field day promoting their agendas. There's very little that can be done to stem the loss of journalists because we don't yet have a business solution to this problem, which is the direct result of a disruptive technology at work, one that continues to devastate the US media industry. Last week, Advance Publications announced 600 job cuts at newspapers in New Orleans and Birmingham, Alabama.

And there will be even more job losses to come.

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Father's Day Thoughts: Startups And Immigrants Have Much In Common

I was thinking about my dad, Jerzy Foremski today (Father's Day in the US), he passed away last year. The photo (above) shows him holding me, (8 months old) and was taken shortly after my parents had escaped Poland and arrived in London.

We lived in Hackney, London's poorest neighborhood, in the heart of the inner city. Hackney, and the neighboring Shoreditch district, are where immigrants to London have, for more than 150 years, made their first start in life.

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The Best Innovators See David In The Marble Block ... And Know How To Use A Chisel

Om Malik from GigaOm writes:

The present isn't as interesting to most of us who live here, mostly because that would mean accepting the status quo. Instead, guys like Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey want to rearrange the world to fit the future they want to live in.

I think Om is stating the obvious. To be innovative you have to search out the cracks, challenge the way things are accepted in the present. It's a task that's often done best by outsiders.

For example, journalists would have never invented blogging, "What, republish other people's news stories and give them links and credit?" Never.

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Advice From A Top VC: Big Data Insights From 'Cloud' Companies And The 'Death Of McKinsey'

Silicon Valley VC firm Emergence Capital Partners was an early investor in Salesforce.com and now works exclusively with cloud-based startups primarily focused on business customers. Gordon Ritter writes that they can learn a lot from consumer services companies.

By Gordon Ritter

Consumer internet companies have always been good at harnessing behavioral data from their customers to serve their customers better (and help themselves in the process). Many enterprise cloud companies have the same opportunity but have not focused on the importance of this data.

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The Flaws In Facebook And ComScore's Social Ad Study

Facebook seems to have succeeded somewhat, in holding back widespread concerns about the effectiveness of its advertising platform with a recent paid-for study by comScore, in the wake of GM's announcement that its Facebook ad campaigns don't pay.

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Pew Report On Teenage Video Habits

The Pew Research Center recently published a report on teen online video habits. There's a few interesting tidbits, such as that younger teens are less interested in online video than older teens; and teens from lower income homes are more likely to stream video.

Here is an infographic based on the Pew findings from OnlineCollege.org:

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Silicon Valley Honors Four Visionaries: A Top VC, An Educator, A Journalist, And A Serial Entrepreneur

Next week SVForum will honor four extraordinary people with its 2012 Visionary Awards, a celebration of innovation and entrepreneurship that is in its 15th year.

The awards go to:

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Competing With One Arm Tied - Silicon Valley's Gender Gap Handicap

(Sol Tzvi, founder of Genieo, based in Israel.)

Silicon Valley is running hard to maintain its position as the global innovation engine, against competition with dozens of fast growing innovation centers around the world.

Which is why it's puzzling that Silicon Valley has such a large gender gap in key sectors such as angels, VCs, entrepreneurs, engineers, and in senior executive roles.

Why isn't Silicon Valley using all of its people?

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VCs Clamor For Virtual Databases As Delphix Raises $25m

There's lots of money in enterprise IT and virtual databases are emerging as a very hot sector for VCs, as Delphix raises $25 million in an oversubscribed C-round.

Virtual databases are able to increase the effieiciency of data centers and also help speed the development of web-based applications. Facebook is a Delphix customer. Tim Campos, Facebook's CIO, says that Delphiix is being used to help develop 11 projects simultaneously instead of just two.

Nick Sturiale, general partner at Jafco Ventures, and a board memebr of Splunk, said Delphix is "one of the most compelling value propositions" he's seen since Splunk.

New investors Summit Partners and Battery Ventures join lead investor Jafco, and Greylock Partners and Lightspeed Venture Partners.

Encouraged By Facebook IPO Ponzify Issues S-1

John Flowers, writing in the literary magazine McSweeney's can't resist pillorying $FB's disastrous IPO. This is how the world now sees Silicon Valley IPOs, at least until the next good one.

Here are extracts from the S-1 for Ponzify:

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Demand Media Escapes The 'Farm' Focuses On Expert Content

(Joanne Bradford, Chief Marketing and Revenue Officer for Demand Media.)

Demand Media, the media publisher and Internet registrar company, is on a roll: its revenues are up and so are pageviews. And it's no longer called a "content farm" the derogatory term that's applied to companies with a "content-lite" strategy designed to sell low quality advertising.

I spoke with Joanne Bradford, Chief Marketing and Revenue Officer for Demand Media's content business. Here are some notes from our conversation.

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Lucas Buick: The Man Responsible For Deluge Of One-Click Hipster Photos

(Lucas Buick co-founded Synaptic, a company that brought retro looking photography to smartphones with its popular Hipstamatic app for the iPhone.) (Flickr photo)

By Intel Free Press

Lucas Buick is the CEO and co-founder of Synthetic, a company best known for bringing the washed-out and color-saturated look of retro analog photography to the digital world. The company's photo app, Hipstamatic, the Apple iTunes Store's 2010 App of the Year, sparked a frenzy of photo special effects and social sharing apps for smartphones. It sold nearly 1.5 million downloads in its first year and the $1.99 app remains one of the top 100 most popular paid apps with more than 5 million sold.

In 2006, Buick and his friend Ryan Dorshorst founded Synthetic, a small design consultancy. Three years later, they moved the bootstrap startup to San Francisco and shifted focus to the mobile software.

Today, Synthetic has a series of Hipstamatic apps, including Swankolab, Incredibooth and an online store called Hipstamart, where people can order prints, posters, T-shirts and items using digital photos. There's even an iPad magazine of curated content called Smack.

"What I love about magazines is larger trends being featured rather than the hourly trending topic on Twitter," Buick said in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle.

Buick sat down recently to talk about how he sees mobile technologies changing people's lives.

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Bill Demas And The Entrepreneur of the Year Awards

Ernst & Young is on the search again, for the 26th year, looking for the world's top entrepreneur, a journey that involves thousands of the world's top business leaders and their advisors, judging panels, and a lot of galas and other networking events.

This Saturday, Ernst & Young will announce the winners of its N. America competition at a dinner event at the Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill, in San Francisco. Winners in eight categories will be chosen from 26 regional finalists, out of group of 135 companies chosen from 1,700 entries.

Last year, Andrew Mason, CEO of Groupon, and Reid Hoffman, founder of Linked-In, were among the winners. [US Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year 2011 winners]

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Fab Fundamentals Fortify Facebook's Fiscal Future

Matthew Buckland, editor of Memeburn, argues that the focus on Facebook's [$FB] share price collapse, is a distraction from the many positive factors that will shape its future. He owns shares in Facebook.

In confusing times like these, when there is a cacophony of conflicting reports and opinions around investing in Facebook, I like to go back to the fundamentals. Fundamentals cut through hyperbole and understatement because they are just that: fundamentals.

Instead of the current share price consider these key points:

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SETI In Trouble: Search For Alien Life Hurt By Search For Money

(Jill Tarter ponders the uncertain future for Alien search project SETI.)

Wednesday evening I was at a great local salon organized by Taylor Milsal and Christine Mason McCaull, which featured Jill Tarter, Director of the Center for SETI Research for 35 years.

Last week, Ms Tarter announced her retirement from SETI, but that was not by choice. She resigned so that SETI could continue with its work amidst big cuts that threaten to shutter the project. Her former salary will be used for operations while she tries to raise funds large enough to plug large losses in funding due to the state of California's budget cuts, and from other sources.

She gave a great talk and I spoke with her afterwards. Here are some of my notes:

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HP Labs Breakthrough In Data Center Power Use

Researchers at HP Labs said they have developed a way of managing energy use in data centers that can save as much as 30% in power costs while at the same time lessening dependance on power utility grids through the smart use of local reusable energy sources.

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The Rise And Shine Of The 17 Hour-a-Day Journalist

HenryBlodget.jpg

... And Why Outsiders Are Essential To Disruption

Henry Blodget, the founder and chief editor of Business Insider, an online news company based in New York City, is notorious for his role in Wall Street's dotcom saga, and he is becoming equally notorious for his shakeup of news reporting and traditional roles in journalism.

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Iceland's Green Computing Cloud - Renewable Energies Fuel Data Centers

(Steam rises from the Svartsengi geothermal plant in Iceland.)

...

I've long been interested in Iceland's potential to become an important platform for server farms because of its natural abundance of geothermal sources, and its position mid-way between N. America and Europe. As the carbon-content of computing becomes more important as a competitive edge, Iceland clearly has a future role to play.

By Intel Free Press

It does not sit in London, Tokyo, Beijing or New York. It is not humming along deep inside a corporate skyscraper.

No, one of the world's newest supercomputers - and apparently among the world's greenest - was recently fired up inside a low-slung grey building with red trim on a windswept plain outside Reykjavik, Iceland.

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It Was 'Smart Money' That Got Burnt In $FB IPO

There's a lot of anger around the botched IPO of Facebook but much of that is from the "smart money" that wasn't able to convince retail investors, the regular people who invest in stocks, to take their shares.

The point of a "pop" in an IPO is to provide an incentive for retail investors to acquire the risk -- the shares from investors and insiders -- and then to continue holding that stock and limit volatility. 

But the smart money had already decided what the stock was valued at because of trading activity in secondary markets, which was in a range of $38 to $42 and only wanted to price a 10% pop, which is why the $38 price was chosen. That's not much of an incentive to take on a very risky investment.

The fact that retail investors disagreed with the valuation and largely stayed away is a very good sign because it shows that they are far more sophisticated than the Wall Street bankers and their clients.

So let's not shed tears for the "smart money" they were the ones that literally bought the hype about Facebook's future prospects. The SEC isn't going to help them because they are considered to be sophisticated investors that know the risks.

The good news is that few small investors bought shares; the bad news is that few small investors bought shares.

This means that the smart money, in its zeal to leave as little money on the table in the IPO (it's called fair pricing), has messed things up for future tech IPOs and prospects for getting their money out of their other positions. Greed has its consequences.

The Facebook fiasco also puts the spotlight on secondary markets and the role they play in helping private companies raise capital and for early investors to find an exit.

It should be good news for private stock markets such as Sharespost and Second Market because tech IPOs will be cutback leaving these markets in a great position as the only alternative to being acquired.

The problem for the smart money is that these private markets have little liquidity and share prices are far more susceptible to hype and manipulation than in public markets. It could quickly become be a dumb investment.

More Bad News: A Deluge Of Facebook Shares Could Drop Price Further

Facebook's IPO is considered a failure in that the share price was too high to attract retail investors.

There's more bad news. More than 1.7 billion shares owned by insiders, such as employees, etc, will be "unlocked' over the next six months and will be eligible for trading. That's a huge overhang considering that Facebook floated 421 million shares in its IPO. It's equivalent to an additional four Facebook IPOs.

The largest block of shares, about 1.3 billion, unlocks in six months time.

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Did Secondary Market Trading In Facebook Spoil The IPO?

There are thousands of articles dissecting the reasons why things went bad for Facebook [$FB] yet none have mentioned the role of secondary markets. In these private stock exchanges, Facebook was trading at around $34 a share in the weeks before the IPO.

Interestingly, Facebook set the opening price at $38 hoping for about a 10% pop on the first day, which would bring it up to $42 at close.

Since secondary markets are the playground of acredited investors, it's "smart money," and much of it institutional, it would be a fair assumption by Facebook that a $38 price was in the right ballpark.

However, this means that the trading in secondary markets essentially set the IPO price, leaving little wiggle room for Facebook. 

Will secondary markets become more important in pricing future IPOs? Or will private companies choose to limit secondary market trading as much as they can, to avoid what happened with Facebook?

It's ironic that Google [$GOOG] carefully managed its IPO and snubbed much of Wall Street so as to not reward clients of investment banks; and to price fairly at the outset so that there would be as little pop as possible, yet it closed 18% up. Facebook went with the investment banks and took their advice and ended up with flop.

McKinsey Reports That Marketing Is Complicated

fragmented

Chief Marketing Officer or VP of Marketing/Communications has to be one of the toughest jobs around these days. Why? Because of the massive fragmentation going on in media and communications.

...

The good news about the new media and communications channels is that it is all measurable. You can measure things in incredible detail. You can slice and dice the measurement data in ways that were never possible before.

The bad news about the new media and communications channels is that it is all measurable. There is a mountain of data that can sliced and diced in so many ways. What is worth measuring? How much should you measure? What do the measurements mean? How can you relate the measurement data to revenues?

We are still figuring out these and many other questions. And that's why marketing and communications today is so challenging and it isn't going to get any easier.

 

That's from my post Chief Marketing Officer - Toughest Job Around . . .  written about four years ago.

 

Here's a good article on the same theme but with some hard data from various industries, written by McKinsey staff: David Court, Jonathan Gordon, and Jesko Perrey.

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De Young Museum Workers Protest Union Busting And Cuts In Benefits

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Workers at the prosperous de Young Fine Arts museum in Golden Gate Park staged a friendly protest Friday evening during the popular "Young at Art" celebration of the talents of students from San Francisco's public schools.

The workers say that the museum is successful and profitable yet they have been called "spoilt" by the head of HR and told to take cuts in benefits.

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Zuckerberg Won't Share - IPO Will Consolidate His Total Control

OneHackerWay

(The Facebook Campus: One, Hacker Way. Photo by Tom Foremski.)

Lucy Marcus, a leading advocate for reform of boardrooms, is highly critical of Facebook's corporate structure, following a "Shareholder Spring" where the boards of many large companies faced angry shareholders.

In annual meeting after annual meeting around the world, boards have been taken to task by investors and other stakeholders on a wide range of issues: remuneration, board composition, competence, diversity, voting control, dual stock, and more... No sector has been immune; no director has been untouchable.

Yet Facebook has adopted a structure that enables co-founder Mark Zuckerberg to retain complete control following the IPO, it's as if it were a private, and not a public corporation. [I would not be surprised if he tries to take the company private again, once he's paid-off his largest investors.]

Facebook swims against the tide of a global movement toward transparency, engagement, and checks and balances.

Please go to Reuters and read: 

Facebook versus the Shareholder Spring | Lucy P. Marcus

Foremski's Take: Facebook was not interested in reforming Wall Street with its IPO, as Google tried to do with its dutch auction process and snubbing the big investment firms. So it's not surprising that Facebook isn't interested in adopting a more open company governance structure. 

In fact, Facebook [$FB] has copied Google's [$GOOG] corporate structure as closely as it could, and even improved on it. The two-tier shares where insider's shares have ten times the voting power is common to both companies.  Mark Zuckerberg figured out an additional way of keeping control that Google's founders missed: he managed to retain the voting rights of shares he had sold in secondary markets.

 

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Former Senior Oracle Exec Gary Bloom Heads Mark Logic

Gary Bloom has been named CEO of Mark Logic, which returns him to his database roots. This is an interesting appointment and shows that the board of Mark Logic is trying to spruce up the database company and either dress it up for sale or try to expand it's business.

He was at one time considered a possible successor to Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle. Mark Logic is used in several interesting media publishing applications.

Here's Mr Bloom's history:

Former vice chair and president of Symantec Corporation, where he led the company's line of business organizations and corporate development efforts. Gary joined Symantec through the company's merger with Veritas Software where he was the chairman and CEO. Before joining Veritas, Gary held senior executive positions at Oracle. During his 14-year career at Oracle, Gary led Oracle's database business, worldwide marketing, support, education, and alliance organizations, and was responsible for mergers and acquisitions.

I interviewed former CEO David Kellog: Mark Logic's David Kellogg - Creating Media From Unstructured Content - SVW

The Back Story On 'Curated By Intel' - Experimental 'iQ' News Magazine

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(Bryan Rhoads, Editor-in-Chief of iQ at Intel's offices in the Presidio, San Francisco.)

Earlier today, I met the team responsible for this morning's launch of 'iQ by Intel', an online magazine featuring daily news and feature articles from around the globe plus original content from Intel.

The magazine is curated by Intel employees, choosing and sharing articles from a river of media content surfaced by special tools developed by Intel.

I was pleased to hear Bryan Rhoads, the mastermind behind the project, and its Editor-in-Chief, say that I was one of the people that inspired the venture with my writings about how every company is a media company.

Here are some of my notes from the meeting:

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Intel Builds Vietnam's Largest Solar Power Plant

Solar Vietnam

The solar array at Intel's Vietnam Assembly and Test Factory in Ho Chi Minh City. (Flickr photo.) 

By Intel Free Press

The largest operating solar power plant in Vietnam was installed recently at Intel's Saigon Hi-Tech Park facility in Ho Chi Minh City. The 1,092 high-efficiency photovoltaic panels on the roof of the Vietnam Assembly and Test Factory came online in April.

The system is expected to generate about 321,000 kWh per year that will be consumed directly by the factory, reducing the flow from the local electrical grid.

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Zero1 Launches Ambitious 'Seeking Silicon Valley' Arts Festival

zero1 curators

ZERO1 Executive Director Joel Slayton and Jaime Austin - Curator and Director of Programs for ZERO1

ZERO1, the biennial arts and technology festival, announced a massive expansion in its program this year, with more than 100 arts installations Bay Area wide and 40 arts museums, galleries, and studios taking part. The theme this year is "Searching for Silicon Valley."

The announcement of this year's program was made at SFMOMA, which is one of many arts organizations that will take part in this year's festival.

Jaime Austin, Curator and Director of Programs for ZERO1, said that the idea for the theme "Seeking Silicon Valley" came from her experiences from meeting visiting artists at the airport and their wish to see Silicon Valley.

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Silicon Valley Celebrates Women Of Vision

Several thousand leading professionals from top Silicon Valley companies are gathering in Santa Clara this evening for a banquet honoring this year's Women of Vision award recipients.

The annual event is organized by the Anita Borg Institute, one of Silicon Valley's oldest professional organizations. [Please see my interview with director Telle Whitney.]

The recipients of the 2012 awards are:

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Cisco's NDS: The Future Of TV Is TV - All Wall And All You...

NDS

NDS, the TV technology firm Cisco recently bought for $5 billion, was in town for a couple of days this week, ensconced in the W hotel and showing off its vision of TV's future, which essentially means that this could be a preview of "Cisco TV."

NDS.jpgIt was good to catch up with fellow Brits Nigel Smith, chief marketing officer and Nick Thexton, chief technology officer at NDS. It's their job to figure out how people will be using their TVs so that NDS can provide the technologies that cable TV companies will need to service future subscribers.

Here's my take and my notes from the demo:

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Turkey Looks To Tech And Youth To Transform Its Economy

 

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(Muslim women in Istanbul compute while having lunch. Photo courtesy of Chris Schuepp. (Flickr photo))

By Intel Free Press

Turkey was Europe’s fastest-growing economy last year, expanding by more than 8 percent for the second consecutive year. Although that brisk pace is projected to slow this year, by about 3 percent, the government has ambitions to become one of the world’s top 10 economies by 2023 when the Republic of Turkey will celebrate its centennial.

To get there, the government is betting on technology to educate the country's youth. Today, 65 percent of the population is younger than 24, and the nation’s leaders see this as a competitive advantage that will drive Turkey’s growth.

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Media Love Affair With Apps Is Over

Jason Pontin, editor of Technology Review has a long history in publishing, he was editor-in-chief of Red Herring during the dotcom boom-to-bomb days. He's written a great article about why publishers jumped onto the app trend and how some painful lessons have brought many back to the web and open technologies.

It's a long piece but worth it.

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Yahoo! And Silicon Valley's Cult Of The Engineer

The discovery that Yahoo! CEO Scott Thompson has been claiming to have a Computer Science degree for years, and did not correct statements that identified him as an "engineer" is not surprising given the strong "cult of the engineer" that is prevalent in Silicon Valley.

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Telemedicine For The Masses: Experts On Wheels

Telemed01

(A cardiac patient and his doctor using the Medikart telemedicine cart.)

By Intel Free Press

A few weeks ago, a 70-year-old man showed up at the emergency room of a small Baja California hospital with a cardiac syncope, meaning he suffered a brief loss of consciousness. After performing an EKG and lab analysis, a young general practitioner found a complete blockage of the man's electric impulses to the heart. The patient was in trouble, and so was the doctor.

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Culture Watch: 'April in Paris' in SF - This Saturday


(Allison Lovejoy - photo - Tom Foremski.)

This Saturday evening is the always excellent "April in Paris" featuring a great lineup of performers for just $10, starting at 8pm - Workspace 2150 Folsom St., San Francisco.

Music by: The Cottontails and The Ronchin Big Band (from France)

There's also a reception for $25 starting at 5pm.

Cheese, bubbly, art & live classical and cabaret music by Allison Lovejoy and maestro accordionist Rob Reich.


CultureWatch: 'Making Scenes' at the de Young

(Photo by Tom Foremski.)

Friday evening April 27 at the de Young in Golden Gate Park: Note - All public programs are free and do not require a ticket.

2012 Artist Fellow Monique Jenkinson (aka Fauxnique) celebrates Jean Paul Gaultier: From Sidewalk to Catwalk with Making Scenes.

Jenkinson brings the nightclub to the museum, curating a Friday Night at the de Young packed with the creative energy of San Francisco's club scenes.

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SFNewTech: Japanese Startups At Mighty

It was raining but a decent turnout at club Mighty in San Francisco, where Myles Weissleder's SF New Tech showcased top Japanese startups.

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Interview With Stephen Hawking's Computer Builder

(Stephen Hawking's support team: Travis Bonifield (from left to right top row), Rob Weatherly, IT support; Sam Blackburn, graduate assistant.)

By Intel Free Press

British scientist Stephen Hawking celebrated his 70th birthday early this year, and continues to work on ground breaking theories in cosmology. Because of his severe motor neuron disease, he depends heavily on the latest computer technologies to help him communicate with others.

Intel application engineer Travis Bonifield has been working closely with Mr Hawking for more than a decade, building PCs customized for his needs.

Mr Bonifield talks about the technology that powers the customized systems and how Intel co-founder Gordon Moore persuaded Mr Hawking to switch from AMD to Intel.

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CultureWatch: Traditional Arts + Modern Mix At JapanTown's Cherry Blossom Festival

(Photos by Tom Foremski)

JapanTown's four-day Cherry Blossom finished Sunday with a parade and a prize ceremony for best Manga costume.

It was a lot of fun, and multi-ethnic in procession and in audience, reflecting the diversity of the Fillmore neighborhood.

My Highlight app barely blipped the whole time I was there, which means it was largely geek-free, there were very few starters among the thousands of people. You'd think startups would be interested in the varied culture that's around them, after all, every business is a cultural artifact.

Here are more photos:

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CultureWatch: From The Real Sidewalk .... To Gaultier - de Young


(Photos by Tom Foremski.)

Dan was walking along the sidewalk outside the de Young museum, which is staging "Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk" (you can see the white lettering by his shoulder).

I asked him where was going, he said he was marching, on a forced march, you know how it is. I said I did, I said we are all marching, even when we don't want to, the march of time marches us on. He smiled and we passed each other, heading to different destinations even though we all eventually arrive at the same place...

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Offline Tales: Horn Group, Techcrunch, And The Future Of Money

(Offline Tales - a new (ir)regular Friday column.)

Wednesday I was in North Beach heading for the Bubble Lounge and Media Bistro sponsored by the Horn Group.

It was great to catch up briefly with Sabrina Horn, founder of the Horn Group, who tells me that business is booming and the firm is engaged in a broad range of digital communications services and applications.

I had an interesting chat with Tim O'Keeffe, (below) who heads Horn Group's San Francisco operations.

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It's A Tough Job: Finding Codenames For Intel Chips

By Intel Free Press

What's in a name? Not much if you're talking about the codename for world's first 22-nanometer processors that use Intel's leading edge Tri-Gate transistors.

Groundbreaking as the "Ivy Bridge" chips may be, their codename isn't, according to the man who came up with the initial moniker for Intel's next Core processor family. Ivy Bridge is the internal codename forIntel's third-generation Core processors, the first of which will be unveiled in April.

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Sergey Brin And Google's Dilemma - Progress In Commerce = Progress In Oppression

Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, wrote that his comments about Internet freedom made to The Guardian Newspaper needed some clarification.

He begins by re-stating his original premise: "I believe the internet has been one of the greatest forces for good in the world over the past quarter century."

He then goes on to say:

Today, the primary threat by far to internet freedom is government filtering of political dissent. This has been far more effective than I ever imagined possible across a number of nations.


Foremski's Take: The problem with the Internet is that the same methods that a company such as Google uses to monitor its users for clues about what they might purchase next, so it can show relevant ads, can just as easily be used by governments to monitor its citizens for political and oppressive purposes.

"Big Brother" is already here, it's just masquerading as "Big Sales Assistant."

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Public Relations And The Rise Of Product Journalism - Scoops About Spec Sheets...

Why has tech reporting become such tedious product journalism? Why are reporters trying to scoop each other on news that is essentially a spec sheet about a mass-produced product?

Why are we reading about products as a news story and not in an ad?

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OffLine: Bollywood Night At Warriors v Mavericks

(The spectacular Oracle Arena.)

It was a dark and stormy evening but it was also Bollywood Night at the Oracle Arena in Oakland and I had two tickets to see the Golden State Warriors play the Dallas Mavericks -- thanks to Tibco Software.

[Vivek Ranadivé, CEO of Tibco, is one of the owners of the Warriors, and the first Indian-American NBA team owner. The scrappy kid from Mumbai has done very well, arriving as a teenager in Silicon Valley many years before the recent waves of Indian engineers.

Vivek Ranadivé is also one of the most interesting personalities in Silicon Valley. I knew him when I worked at the Financial Times and he became one of my most important contacts because of his long history and extensive contacts within the valley. When I left the Financial Times he took a keen interest in my publishing venture. Tibco became a founding sponsor of Silicon Valley Watcher in 2005, and has remained our most loyal supporter. I hope my readers appreciate Tibco's important contribution to SVW.]

I'd never been to an NBA game and was looking forward to it immensely. I set off with my son Matt, and we braved the nasty cats and dogs weather, driving across the bridge to Oakland. And I'm glad we did because we had a brilliant time. Here's a taste of the event:

The Warrior Girls, the Golden State Warriors' cheerleaders got into the Bollywood spirit with colorful costumes.

Sport is theater...

The first person we ran into was Cory (Scoop) Johnson (above with Tim Draper) CNBC's original Silicon Valley reporter. He now works for Bloomberg TV.


Tim Draper, founder of venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson, is as well known for his eccentric personality as he is for his VC prowess.



Al Seracevic, sports editor for the San Francisco Chronicle, quickly took Matt and I under his wing and gave us for a whirlwind tour of the benches and the media balcony. It great catching up with Al, I hadn't seen him since a very late and very liquid North Beach adventure about a year ago.

It was also good to bump into

Zach Nelson, CEO of Netsuite, who had a great seat down on the court.



Vivek Ranadivé's daughter Anjali (on screen above) sang the national anthem.

The Dallas bench...

Here's where the sports hacks perch.

Elevator to the Grandview Suites.

A very spirited crowd.

The always hardworking Tibco Comms team.

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A rainy treck home.


Every Media Company Is A Media Company - And That's The Problem

Every company is a media company because every company, no matter if it makes ball bearings or diapers, as to publish in many different channels and formats to be visible. If you aren't seen amidst all the media noise, you don't exist.

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New Revenue Opportunities For Newspapers: Teaching

(Illustration by Chris Dichtel.)

Foremski’s Take: The Guardian newspaper’s plans to offer courses in digital media production is an important development and one that should be followed by US newspapers. It would provide much needed revenues to many struggling media businesses.

[Every Company Is A Media Company - The Guardian Newspaper Will Teach You How]

I’ve written many times that the future of journalism is in helping communities, which includes businesses, to tell their stories. Media literacy is important but that’s just one side of the coin: knowing how to produce and publish digital media is just as important, maybe more.

Freedom of speech is pointless if you don’t know how to make it heard. Newspapers know how and they can teach that know-how to others.

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Every Company Is A Media Company - The Guardian Newspaper Will Teach You How

(Above, Guardian HQ in London, credit: The Guardian.)

Every company is a media company but that doesn’t mean every company knows how to be one. That’s what the UK based The Guardian newspaper will be offering: training in digital media production.

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The Science Of Food - Gastronomy Night at The Exploratorium

I love any excuse to go to the Palace of Fine Arts and visit The Exploratorium -- two of my favorite places in San Francisco.

On the first Thursday of every month The Exploratorium hosts its "After Dark" series of unique events. This month the theme was 'Gastronomy' looking at the science and the art of creating food. Several thousand people turned up for lectures, tastings, demonstrations, and to play around with The Exploratorium's marvelous, hands-on science exhibits.

The theme reminded me of the incredible, and very much under-appreciated importance that the invention of gastronomy has had, both on our development as a species and in developing our civilization - no other technology has done the same.

The development of cooking food had a monster effect on our ancestors. Cooking unlocked vast amounts of hidden nutrition in raw foods.

The development of the cooking pot literally blew our minds - our brains jumped in size and our bellies shrank - which made us smarter and much better looking.

All that extra food energy went straight to growing and fueling our brains, which need 24/7 glucose, our highest octane food fuel and burn 25% of our calories.

The cooking pot allowed us to build a Ferrari of a brain, expensive to maintain but incredible in performance. We left the other primates in the dust and now we're on the doorstep of our next big leap, into some sort of mixed biological digital world.

If gastronomy hadn't been invented there would be no civilization, science, arts, building of big things, or development of semiconductor and computer technologies because we wouldn't have the time for it.

It turns out that it's very difficult to digest a full day of energy from raw food. 2500 calories is a shockingly large volume of raw vegetables, salads, berries, fruits, etc.

An experiment at Bristol zoo in the UK, with human volunteers agreeing to eat a raw food diet for the summer, had to be shut down after a few weeks because the people were losing so much weight they were becoming malnourished and it could have led to serious health problems. They simply could not chomp, chew, and swallow enough raw food during the day to meet their nutritional needs.

The evidence is that we evolved alongside the cook pot and we become sickly without it, it's a technology that's absolutely vital to our well being.

Outsourcing our stomachs

The development of gastronomy essentially created an external stomach that helped us to extract the maximum nutrition from what low-energy food. Less time eating raw food left more time for hunting animals, whose rich and highly nutritious flesh and organs further accelerated our brain growth.

It's humbling to think of the enormous effect on our lives and evolution that the simple cooking pot has had. It surely must rank as the single most important technology ever invented.

Today we are in the midst of our next big step - outsourcing some of the work of our brains to external machines. We'll see massive changes and at a faster pace than those from the patient cooking pot.

What will come from our increasing, and ultimately inevitable collision of our biology with our technology?

What new inventions and behaviors will this bio-digital future produce? What types of new cultures and societies will arise? (Stanislaw Lem, the Polish science fiction writer brilliantly explores these types of futures in "Cyberiad" and in many other books.)

What does the economy look like in a future world where manufacturing technologies are 10,000 times more productive at 1,000th of the cost? What happens if only 10 percent of the population working can produce the needs of all 100%? That's where we're headed, and beyond, thanks to the good old cooking pot.

--

Here are some photos from the Gastronomy evening at The Exploratorium:

(Photos by Tom Foremski.)

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GOOG$ Previews Brilliant Business Strategy


(A Google engineer models 'Project Glass.')

The Google video of its Project Glass, wearable glasses concept is much more than a gimmick, it's a preview of a brilliant business strategy. Take a look:


Project Glass: One day... - YouTube

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Intel's Ambitious 'Creators Project' - Can Great Curation Build Brand?

(Photos by Tom Foremski)

... Intel teams up with the cool crowd.

I recently attended The Creators Project in San Francisco, a globe-roaming two day free event that celebrates an eclectic mix of avant-garde music and arts installations, and attracted tens of thousands of people.

It could have easily been re-named " The Curators Project" because of the superb collection of bands, artists, installations, and even food trucks -- all carefully selected by a small team of curators.

The event is produced as a partnership between Intel and Vice Media.

I spoke with David Haroldsen, (above) Intel's Creative Director for the project. Here are some of my notes:

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The Guardian's Google Revenue Fantasy - And The Future Of Newsrooms


(The Googleplex at night)

The UK newspaper The Guardian, claims that Google's Android operating system is far less valuable than Google's revenues from Apple devices.

Google's Android has generated just $550m since 2008, figures suggest | Technology | The Guardian

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Touch Me: Do Users Really Want Touch-Responsive Computers?




Touching the screen on a tablet is different from using a laptop with a keyboard. Intel's market research shows that despite tired arms ('gorilla arms') users like to touch.

By Intel Free Press

Touch on vertical screens, such as laptops, has been thought to result in so-called "gorilla arm," a term engineers have coined to describe what happens when people use touch interfaces for lengthy periods.

"Touchscreen on the display is ergonomically terrible for longer interactions," Avi Greengart of Current Analysis said to Wired in 2010. In user testing conducted by Intel in Brazil, China, Italy and the United States, however, people embraced touch on laptop displays.

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The Joys Of Modding PCs ... And 'Mad Men'

Jeffrey Stephenson surrounded by several of his computer designs. He is a fan of the Mid-Century Modern designs depicted in the AMC television series "Mad Men"

By Intel Free Press

By day, Jeffrey Stephenson works as an information technology professional, but in his free time, he's better known as "slipperyskip." That's his Twitter handle and the name he uses on computer hardware forums where he posts about how he transforms retro furniture and antique appliances -- he once turned an Elvis microphone into a fully functioning PC. His handcrafted designs have made him a celebrity in many computer hardware circles and a living legend among PC modders.

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Windows 8 Changes The Security Landscape

By Paul Lipman, CEO, Total Defense

As the industry prepares for the release of Windows 8 toward the end of this year, just about every security company is wondering how they will be affected and how the general security landscape may change.

Windows 8 is expected to offer some compelling new security enhancements that have the ability to significantly reduce exposure to digital attacks, and while I believe this is a step in the right direction, fundamental issues still remain with the underlying architecture, leaving the potential for vulnerabilities to be exposed and exploited.

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SF New Tech Celebrates 6 years!

Myles Weissleder is one of my favorite people, he's the hard working organizer of the excellent SFNewTech events, held once or twice a month in San Francisco at Club Mighty.

These events are very high in geek-content with a roster of 5 or 6 startups, each with a 5 minute presentation followed by five minutes of questions. Myles always makes sure everyone sticks to their time. There's usually a very spirited question time because the audience is mostly fellow starters, which leads to great feedback.

It's definitely a demo/pitching event rather than a partying event. There's usually a food truck or two outside and plenty of parking.

Tonight's lineup looks great:

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Thought Leaders: JP Rangaswami - Chief Scientist At Salesforce.com

Salesforce.com recently held its Cloudforce conference. I caught up with its Chief Scientist JP Rangaswami, who's based in the UK.

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Incapsula Report: More Than Half Of Website Visitors Are Machines

Incapsula, a provider of cloud-based security for web sites, released a study today showing that 51% of web site traffic is automated software programs, and the majority is potentially damaging, -- automated exploits from hackers, spies, scrapers, and spammers.

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From Tuskegee Airman To Rocket Ship Designer: Ben Berry Interview


Intel Free Press interviewed Ben Berry, one of the famed Tuskegee airmen, the highly decorated World War II African-American aviators. After the war he earned an aerospace engineering degree and worked on the design of NASA's Apollo spacecraft.

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Profiles Of Up And Coming Irish Infosecurity Startups



(The following profiles were commissioned by infosecurity ireland - an organization supported by Enterprise Ireland that helps to promote Irish security businesses. It includes a quick, sub-minute introduction video for each company.)

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Can The Future Of Technology Be Predicted? Here's How Intel's 'Futurist' Works...



By Intel Free Press

Brian David Johnson is Intel's "futurist," which means his job is to look out 10 to 15 years ahead and develop plans that Intel engineers can use to create technology for, well, the future. His job is a complicated mix of sociology and research, looking deeply into how people interact with computers and computation today to anticipate how it will evolve over time.

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Facebook Woos Wall Street - It Just Added 25 Banks - GOOG Shunned Wall Street With Its IPO...

Facebook has added 25 banks to its IPO offering — a massive expansion from the original six banks named. It allows the banks offer Facebook stock to their clients in special deals and spreads a lot of favors among the Wall Street investment community.

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SF PR Firm LaunchSquad Launches Premium Content Company

I like San Francisco based PR firm LaunchSquad because they tend to be a little bit ahead of the pack. This week it launched Original9 Media, a company combining content creation with online marketing.

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The Reverse Hockey-Stick Slide For Newspapers -The Media Disruption Is Far From Over

There seems to be a perception that much of the disruption in the media sector has been done and that we are now at a (lower) plateau of some kind and that a recovery in the industry's fortunes is underway.

I like to remind people that we are not yet done with the disruption, there's plenty more ahead of us! And it won't be pretty.

Here's a very dramatic reminder of the challenges facing traditional media companies:

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Can Social Media Reveal Your 'Trustworthiness'?

As more and more services focus on the arbitrage of consumer-to-consumer transactions and rentals, the problem of trusting a stranger becomes a significant drag on success.

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Is Skype A Social Network?

Surely Microsoft's Skype should be counted as a social network. It fulfills many of the same functions that Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.

You can set a status 'mood' message, you can text message, use it as a group chat system, you can share files, photos, your computer screen. Plus, you can talk with people plus video calls, and set up videoconferences with several people.

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Infographic: Active UK Users Of Social Media Platforms

My recent article about the true size of social media platforms has prompted a lot of people to examine how many real people are followers or friends, and there has been some interesting additional data made available.

Social media agency Umpf released the results of a survey of about 2,400 UK consumers with active profiles in the form of an infographic: (via Vikki Chowney at Econsultancy.)

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'Dear Instagram...' - Here's How To Apply For A Job At A Hot Startup

Alice Lee just upped the ante by a factor of 100 in what you need to do to get noticed when applying for a job at a hot startup:

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Protest Planned at Apple HQ Infinite Loop For Shareholders Meeting

(Photo of demonstrators outside Apple store in San Francisco by Chris Knight.)

Working conditions at factories that supply Apple products have become a massive issue for Apple. It has taken some steps towards sprucing up its public image but critics are keeping the pressure on CEO Tim Cook.

'Think Fair' Could Become The New 'Green' - Secretive Apple Opens Its Supply Chain To Inspectors - SVW

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What's Ben Parr Up To? Some Hints...

I was on a panel on Friday at Visa, the credit card processor, along with Ben Parr, former senior editor at Mashable, and Jon Swartz from USA Today.

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Google's M&A Chief Says Deal Focus Has Changed

Google made 79 acquisitions last year, mostly small companies and mostly for their engineering talent. The largest acquisition was Motorola Mobility, a $12.5 billion deal.

This year, the search giant expects to focus on smaller numbers of deals in strategic areas such as mobile and video, said David Lawee, VP of Corporate Development.

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The Hollow Core In Social Media Numbers - Many Are Fake Or Empty Accounts

The numbers of users reported by Facebook, Twitter, Google, and many other sites, are closely watched. They reveal trends in adoption and they are one of the few public metrics available to analysts trying to assign value to companies preparing an initial public offering.

But how accurate are these numbers?

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MediaWatch: Dan Lyons Calls Silicon Valley Journalism A 'Cesspool'

Dan Lyons, a columnist for Newsweek, has written a scathing attack on Mike Arrington and MG Siegler, who run CrunchFund, a small VC fund.

The former editor and his reporter at TechCrunch, a leading AOL tech news site, are accused of being part of a trend among Silicon Valley journalists to raise money from investors in exchange for favorable PR services.

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'Think Fair' Could Become The New 'Green' - Secretive Apple Opens Its Supply Chain To Inspectors

(Image by Damien Van Achter)

Nick Wingfield and Charles Duhigg reported in today's New York Times' Bits blog:

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Silicon Valley's Media Industry Is Winning While The East Coast's Is Shrinking

...and the use of cutting edge technologies isn't helping them.

GigaOM, the San Francisco based tech news publisher, announced it has acquired ContentNext, the publisher of the media industry trade publication, paidContent, from the UK's Guardian Media Group.

Om Malik, founder of GigaOm, wrote about what this means to the company:

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Pearson Says FT 'Not For Sale' On Report Of Thomson Reuters Interest

Michael Wolff, a New York City based columnist for the UK newspaper The Guardian, writes that a source at Thomson Reuters has said that the giant news and information services firm is talking to Pearson about buying the 121 year old newspaper.

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Does Google Hire Of Apple Exec Show Hardware Ambitions?

Richard Waters, West Coast Managing Editor for the Financial Times, analyzes news that Google has hired Apple executive Simon Prakash, senior director of product integrity.

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Wow. Facebook Rules Prohibit Users From Promoting Their Work, Company, And Much, Much More...

Have you seen Facebook's rules for users, developers, and partners? They give Facebook tremendous powers to disable accounts and to make money from your content. Here are a few examples, you can see more here in this SEC document filed late Wednesday:

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TEDxBerkeley 2012: Inspiring Innovation


TEDxBerkeley 2012 was a Saturday well spent...

I know the people that organize TEDxSF pretty well but this was my first time at TEDxBerkeley, which was held in the Zellerbach auditorium on the University of California campus.

The audience was very young compared with the much older audience for TEDxSF. The two events could maybe trade some attendees, it's always great to see young students.

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PRWatch: Example From A VC On Writing A (Linkless) News Release...

Ben Horowitz, the slightly hairier one in the powerhouse VC duo of Andreessen Horowitz, wrote an interesting post about the future of networking that also serves as a very good example of what a news release could look like.

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The Dirty Little Secret Of Silicon Valley's Startup Boom...It's A Jobs Fair For Giant Corporations

In San Francisco cafes and bars, even on the street, I overhear people talking about their startup ideas, business plans, and goals. And there are tons of incubators, Angels, wannabe Angels, VC firms, making investments in startups.

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The Art Of 'Goldilocks' SEO

I always pay attention to Aaron Wall, who runs SEOBook, because he is always on the money. He is one of the very few Google Watchers that is consistently insightful and isn't afraid of writing hard hitting articles critical of Google -- if it's called for.

Here is one of his latest infographics, and again, he is spot on about the changing trends in how Google views the web. It's shocking how much valuable advice he gives away:

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Facebook's Hidden Gold Mine - What The Others Have Missed

Several reporters have pointed to a big risk that they discovered in Facebook's SEC filing: mobile.

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A Tale Of Two Letters: Facebook's Vague Social Mission

Facebook's IPO documents reveals a far different culture to that of neighboring rival Google...

Mark Zuckerberg's letter to prospective shareholders was incredibly vague about his company's "social mission" and there was no announcement of a charitable foundation -- as Google had done when it filed its IPO papers eight years ago.

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What To Watch: Will Zuckerberg's IPO Letter Be As Awesome As Larry Page's?

The same media frenzy of interest that we see today in the Facebook IPO we saw with Google in 2004...

I remember vividly the day Google filed its "red herring" with the SEC in preparation for its IPO. I was out at lunch when our bureau chief Richard Waters, called me, "They've filed."

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Report: Facebook IPO Halved -- Its Valuation Could Skyrocket Above $100bn

International Financing Review, a Thomson Reuters publication, reports that its Wall Street sources point to a far smaller Facebook IPO, raising about $5 billion instead of the expected $10 billion.

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Will Massive $1.5 Billion Andreessen Fund Inflate The Bubble In Private Secondary Markets?

(Photo:By Joi Ito.)
Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz made their reputation as savvy investors by making lots of small seed investments of up to $100,000. This then helped them raise billions of dollars, $2.7 billion so far, with the latest $1.5 billion fund announced today.

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MediaWatch Analysis: Should The Tech Industry Buy The Content Industry?

Should Apple buy Hollywood? Should Google buy the New York Times?

Foremski's Take: People in the tech communities have long discussed the need for tech companies to buy media companies. More recently, there has been discussion about Apple using its $100 billion cash hoard to buy music and movie studios.

This won't happen, for many reasons. I discuss some of those reasons here:

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The Coming Merger Of Power + Data - Apple Patent

I've long thought that electric and computer power will eventually be mixed. There used to be various ways of using a home's electric power lines to guide data connections to every room but wireless technologies became simpler and cheaper.

Now Apple has received a patent on a power connector that also carries a data connector. It's a step towards a merging two powers that will fuel this century and beyond.

AppleInsider has the details:

Apple exploring MagSafe data, headphone connections for iPhone, iPad

Named "Programmable Magnetic Connectors," the filing describes a series of "coded magnets" found in both a portable device and a data and power cable.

The filing includes an illustration of an iPad 2 with a forward-facing camera and associated cable that are described as having a "coded magnetic structure."

In its application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Apple notes that current coupler designs, like with the 30-pin dock connector or headphone jack found on existing iPhones and iPads, prevent a device from being properly sealed. This is why the connector port and headphone jack feature water sensors, to determine if water entered the device through one of these openings.

The use of MagSafe connectors not only for the data and power cable, but also headphones, could allow Apple to properly seal its devices and make it more difficult for moisture to damage the valuable electronics.


Facebook Use Is Linked To Depression... And More Sex

This study of time spent on Facebook by 425 College students is depressing:

MediaPost - Facebook Correlated with Low Self Esteem

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How Ousted Company Leaders Continue To "Manage From The Grave"

Lucy Marcus makes some excellent points in this article from Reuters' Blogs: Lead from the front, or manage from the grave? | Lucy P. Marcus

She shows how boards of directors at RIM, and Yahoo, are making serious mistakes in their efforts to revitalize their businesses with new leaders. They don't take the necessary steps to cut off the influence of the former, discredited management teams, on the organization. Appointing a new CEO will change little.

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Could Buildings Be Improved If They Were Designed Like A Web App?

David Galbraith has embarked on a fascinating journey, exploring the notion that the flow of people and their interactions inside buildings, is similar in design to the flow of data and user interaction of Web apps.

Could best practices in Web app design be applied to architectural design?

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Entrepreneurship is a fundamental human expression whose absence is always a sign of oppression

A group of Indian students at Velammal Engineering College are putting together a book: "500 Definitions Of Entrepreneurship" and they asked me for my definition. Here's what I sent:

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Searching For Race In Social Media - US Government Program Targets Hispanics

Dana Oshiro, publishing analyst at ad network NetShelter, poses an interesting question: "how do you determine race and ethnicity online? "

This question arose from her recent attendance at the White House Hispanic Community Action Summit in San Jose, CA where plans were discussed on how to use social media and online marketing to target the Hispanic population. The goal is to offer programs that will raise the number of Hispanic students in colleges by 4.5 million over the next ten years.

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Here's Why Apple Won't Reign-in Its Lawyers Anytime Soon...

Apple has been waging legal battles against rivals such as Samsung. It may have spent more than $100 million on legal bills in 2011.

Tim O'Reilly, the influential CEO of book and conference company of the same name, tweeted:

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Hacks And Ca$h: Silicon Valley Outspent Hollywood in Washington

There is a widespread perception that Hollywood's media industries have friends in high places because they have spent money buying influence compared with the poor tech industry. But Reuters reports that the tech industry has outspent the entertainment industries.

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Insurance And Finance Top Google Customers In 2011 - Revenue Breakdown

Which industries and companies were Google's top spenders in 2011? Did you know that "Self Employed Health Insurance" cost $43 per click? Here's a fascinating infographic that breaks down the $38 billion that Google made in 2011:

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Vice Media: The Best Network Effect Is Still The Good Old Boy Network

Vice Media is a great success story: three friends in Montreal start publishing a magazine about tattoos and drinking and now run a media empire across 34 countries.

Vice could be worth $1 billion by the end of this year and become "the next MTV," writes Jeff Bercovici at Forbes:

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Lessons From Plancast - When Sharing Doesn't Work

Mark Henderson, founder and CEO of Plancast, has written an excellent article about lessons learned from operating his event planning service -- mostly popular in the Silicon Valley/San Francisco area. It contains a good analysis of the different types of users and what people are willing to share online.

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2012 StartupWatch: Echo Expanding With Key Hires

I'm a big fan of Khris Loux's Echo, which has a fascinating real-time media technology that will only become more important as large media and brand companies try to get their heads, and hands, around their distributed content and their communities.

The Internet is still the platform.

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Capiche? Y Combinator Finds A Key Metric For Success

Paul Graham, a partner at Y Combinator a successful Silicon Valley incubator, writes that he has found a key sign of future success among the startups that are recruited into YC's twice-yearly mentoring programs.

What is this indicator?

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Google+ Numbers Could Be Higher Than Larry Page Says

Larry Page, CEO of Google, said at the analyst call on Thursday that G+ has 90 million users and that 60% are active daily.

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Are VCs Abandoning Seed Funding? Report Shows Massive 48% Dive In One Year

The latest report on trends in US Venture investments shows a massive decline of 40% in seed investments in US startups in the final quarter of 2011, and a much larger drop of 48% for the entire year.

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It's Interesting That Google Hosted Unblocked Wikipedia Pages During SOPA Protest

Wikipedia, which features at the top of many searches, blacked out its English-language site to protest the proposed SOPA legislation but the entire site was readily available on Google.

Visitors to Wikipedia were shown this page:

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Google's Strategy To Boost Its G+ Social Network Risks Harming Quality Of Search Warns SEO Expert

RandFiskin2.jpeg

Last week Google introduced search results heavily influenced by relevant signals from people's social circles and promoting G+ content in its search results.

The move is an attempt to boost its nascent G+ social network, which has had a rocky start.

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Cloud Computing Is Driving A Digital Arts Renaissance

Small creative agencies are harnessing the power of a Disney Pixar through the use of cloud computing services such as Amazon's EC2.

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"Think Fair" - Apple Moves To Become The World's First Fair Trade Electronics Tech Company

(Image by Damien Van Achter)

For the first time, Apple has disclosed the identity of 156 suppliers, and said it will become the first tech company to join the Fair Labor Association (FLA).

This means that the FLA will investigate Apple suppliers and issue regular reports on their labor practices.

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2012Watch: Lithium Technologies Is On A Roll, Raises $53m And Plans Move To San Francisco

Lithium Technologies co-founder Lyle Fong.

Lithium Technologies is on a roll - the Emeryville based company recently raised $53.4 million and has a full order book for its enterprise social media platform.

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An Inside Look At Intel's Social Media Tracking Technology In Action



Above, is a demonstration of how Intel, the world's largest chip maker, uses a proprietary monitoring technology called "Social Cockpit" to analyze the flood of social media buzz generated by the massive Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The Intel system works in real-time to identify and track individuals that have said anything online that's related to a brand, a competitor, or a specific topic. The monitoring technology determines who they are, where they work, their job, their level of online influence, and records what they said, where they said it, and when.

I'd love to know how Intel analyzes this data, then how it acts on that information?

Here are some additional details about Intel's intriguing "Social Cockpit" from inside Intel at CES...

...

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2012Watch: Jeff Bezos Is Looking Cooler ... And Amazon Is Getting Hotter

Jeff Bezos is getting a lot more attention these days from the media and it's for all the right reasons: he has a distinct vision and his success is hard earned.

I had the great pleasure of meeting Jeff Bezos a few years ago (above, with Matt Greeley CEO of BrightIdea) and I was very impressed. It was a casual conversation but surprisingly striking in many ways. He clearly loves challenging conventional wisdom and exploring contrarian business strategies.

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G+ into Google Search Risks SPAM Storm For SEO Benefits

This looks like a way to drive traffic to G+, which has lost some traction.

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Analysis: Will A Split Android Market Doom The OS? The Benefits Of Diversity...

Antonio Rodriguez, a successful serial entrepreneur and now a VC, is very pessimistic about the future of Android.

In this post titled: Android as we know it will die in the next two years and what it means for you, he argues that the splintering of the Android market into many different versions will create an unsupportable multitude of operating systems and mobile hardware that will doom the operating system.

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Interview: Peter Hirshberg And San Francisco's Innovative Gray Area Foundation For The Arts

I'm a big fan of the Gray Area Foundation For The Arts (GAFFTA), a unique non-profit organization that has a fascinating approach to the arts and technology and its efforts to bridge the culture gap between the geek world and the arts, allied with a very strong civic focus.

It's situated in the historic Warfield building in the heart of the Tenderloin, one of San Francisco's poorest neighborhoods. Its innovative art exhibitions and educational programs are rooted firmly in the deep cultural traditions of San Francisco, an area that has consistently contributed to leading edge arts, literature, and ideas, nationally and globally.

Yet it seems that very little of that rich culture and diversity of San Francisco and the Bay Area is reflected in our tech communities, which draw in people from all over the world, but then trap them into insular startups and a monotonous always-on cubicle culture. GAFFTA is one of the few bright spots, an organization where "geek" and "art" aren't mutually exclusive terms.

Last month I met with Peter Hirshberg, a co-founder of GAFFTA, at his home in San Francisco, just a few blocks from my apartment near JapanTown. Here are some notes from our conversation:

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Infographic: How Google Hates/Loves Affiliates

Google is trying to push pout affiliates in key verticals. After all, why let affiliates make money on Google traffic?

SEOBook has produced an interesting infographic explaining Google's affiliate strategy.

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CES Show Set For Massive Turnout - With Or Without Microsoft

By Intel Free Press

Despite Microsoft's announcement that 2012 will be its last CES, the technology trade show is poised for the biggest turnout in years.

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SEO Is Not Free Traffic...

Here's an excellent infographic from SEOBook explaining the world of search engine optimization, a somewhat "dark" art...

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Lessons For HP From Outgoing IBM CEO

Sam Palmisano, the departing CEO of IBM, told Steve Lohr, of the New York Times his game plan for the company can be captured in answering four questions:

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Steve Jobs - "Billion Dollar Hippy" BBC Documentary

The BBC's documentary "Billion Dollar Hippy" about Steve Jobs has some great content even for those that already know a lot about Steve Jobs.

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Finding New Ways To Smash Solid State Drives...

If Alan Frost loves solid-state drives so much, why does he relish throwing them, smashing them and, yes, even cooking them?

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The Wicked Hitch Is Dead

The British journalist and author Christopher Hitchens managed to rile people from the Right and the Left, and across the religious spectrum. Erudite and eloquent he honed those skills to call out foreign despots and take on some of the most powerful figures in the US -- he was truly a modern Cato.

The first time I saw Christopher Hitchens was nine years ago smoking a cigarette outside The Commonwealth Club in downtown San Francisco where he was due to speak later that evening.

I pretty sure it was Hitchens even though I had never seen a photo of him. A middle aged man, slightly disheveled in an academic style, and with a pale pallor that suggested a preference for late nights and late conversations. He looked very much in need of a glass of Mr Walker's wonderful restorative. He looked hungover.

However, when it came time for his talk, he was in excellent form. His oratory was extraordinary, I loved it. His effortless narration and the twists and turns of his phrasing was a pure delight. I had forgotten the pleasure of hearing things well said.

He spoke about his recently published book, a biography of George Orwell, and Orwell's huge influence on his life and work.

Orwell became a harsh critic of both capitalism and communism, a similar journey for Hitchens, and his several decades-long transition from Trotskyist activist to Iraq war supporter.

But Hitchens' political transitions were not the cliche of a revolutionary intellectual turned right wing zealot. He views fit best with Libertarianism -- a perfect place from where Hitchens' skillful iconoclasm could range freely and unrestrained by any political loyalties to Republicans or Democrats.

What impressed me the most about Hitchens was his fearlessness in calling out some of the most powerful people around. He did not mince words, he stood by his convictions even if they were unpopular at the time. His remarkable integrity drove him relentlessly, and sometimes that meant changing his views on key issues when faced with evidence from his own eyes, as a journalist and his extensive travels and meetings with foreign leaders and underground activists.

I'm inspired by his muckraking journalism, his unflinching willingness to take on the rich and the powerful when needed. Muckraking journalism used be far more common in the US as newspapers investigated graft in city hall, or uncovered hosts of nefarious activities by politicians and business leaders. Muckraking meant standing up for the public good, pointing out the corrupt and the criminal, campaigning against exploitative industries and organizations, etc.

We need more muckrakers like Hitchens in times like these. But now we have one less.

---

Here's a quote from a wonderful piece on Hitchens in Slate, written by his friend Jacob Weisberg:

For young D.C. journalists, nothing was headier than Hitchens' boozy instruction in radical politics and literature...

...I learned better than to try to drink like the Hitch. But his example was in every other way an inspiring one.

Like all of us, he was often wrong, but never in the way everyone else was wrong. His originality was a constant, his independence an unstoppable engine.

He loved to argue and debate, not because he was a bully but because he thought it pointed in the direction of truth. And possibly because he was better at it than anyone else. It was moving to see Christopher applying his integrity to the experience of dying. He went out on his own terms, with no sentimentality or regret, telling it straighter than anyone else would dare.


The Demise Of PageRank

Aaron Wall over at SEOBook, has put together an infographic explaining how Google has made the organic link irrelevant.

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Women In Tech: Meet The Duchess Of Silicon Valley

Marylene Delbourg-Delphis (above at Buck's Diner) is a serial entrepreneur, she shares her secrets for technology startup success and how she wooed Guy Kawasaki away from Apple.

By Intel Free Press

Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park, Calif. is the epicenter of Silicon Valley's venture capital scene, but it's 15 minutes up the road at a diner nestled in the woods where many startup funding deals get hashed out over plates of pancakes and eggs.

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Out&About: Media Masses At Googleplex And Why I don't hate Google...


I popped into the annual media party at the Googleplex. There was a decent turnout of familiar faces but with some having switched sides.

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Perfect Timing For Facebook IPO? Outsourcing Risks To New Investors

Mark Zuckerberg is everywhere: Interviews on prime time US and foreign TV; features in leading newspapers and magazines -- it's one almighty PR push: Facebook is prepping for an IPO.

The reason for the publicity blitz is that once Facebook files for an IPO it enters a quiet period during which it can't make any public statements that could be construed as marketing the company's stock.

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AT&T Is First In Worst Cell Phone Service - Yet Again

Don Reisinger over at CNET reports:

For the second year in a row, AT&T was ranked last in Consumer Reports' annual customer satisfaction survey. The company was hit especially hard by complaints over poor voice service and phone-based customer care. Even worse for AT&T, the company's 2011 rating is slightly lower than last year's.

The full rankings will be released in January 2012.

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Send To: Facebook, 1 Hacker Way, Menlo Park - Its New Campus

Facebook is preparing a new campus, once occupied by Sun Microsystems. And it will have a smart-ass new address.

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Here's How Intel Could Win In Tablets And Cell Phones By Protecting Developers Against Patent Wars

Brooke Crothers, at CNET, reports that Intel is stepping in to help manufacturers create ultrabooks, and it has a $300 million fund to help integrate key technologies such as touch interfaces and battery technologies.

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More Evidence Of The Power Of Social Distribution Of Mass Media

Social media was once lauded as an antidote to the gatekeepers of mass media, an army of citizen journalists would take on the dominant powers that shape ideas and influence consumers.

That didn't happen. And while citizen journalists in the form of bloggers are around, they tend not to break any original stories. In fact, social media has become a distributor, and an amplifier of mass media, an effect I dubbed SoDOMM, (Social Distribution Of Mass Media).

Mvelase Peppetta, points to Facebook's release of its top 40 shared news stories in 2011:

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How Steve Jobs Got Away With Being An Asshole

By Michelle Atagana

He was adopted and resented the rejection by his birth parents, but abandoned a daughter of his own born out of wedlock. Steve Jobs was a complicated man.

The minute I picked up Steve Jobs' biography by Walter Isaacson, I knew I was about to enter the mind of one of the world's most admired icons.

In his lifetime, Jobs gained a cult-like following. He fancied himself as the "Jesus" of the tech world and Apple fans followed. He even went to Apple's first Halloween party dressed as Jesus Christ. And the iPhone was nicknamed "the Jesus phone".

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MediaWatch: Lessons Online Publishers Need To Learn From Print Media

By Matthew Buckland, publisher of Memeburn

I've had a long career in online media. I don't really know much about the print world, except that you get your hands dirty when you page through newspapers.

The closest I've come to deadwood publishing is running the internet departments of newspapers. It's a strange world to work in. You're an evangelist, a pioneer and something of a disrupter.

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Out&About: The Rackspace Party Was Pretty Good...

I get lots of news releases about office openings that I ignore but if I Robert Scoble and Rocky Barbanica send an invite, I'm there.

Here's a few shots from an excellent evening at Rackspace's new San Francisco offices, (which a realtor source told me is a very expensive space).

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Former ICANN Chairman Warns Opposition To New Domain Names Could Fracture The Internet

Peter Dengate-Thrush, the recent chairman of ICANN, the Internet regulatory body, warned that opposition to ICANN's new top level domain names (TLDs) could encourage some countries to split from the Internet.

In an interview with SVW, he said opposition by the US Association of National Advertisers (ANA), which represents large US corporations, threatens the independence of the global Internet.

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Interview: Former ICANN Chairman Peter Dengate-Thrush On New Domain Names

PeterDengateICANN.jpeg

(Peter Dengate-Thrush, far right, outside an ICANN meeting in Paris. Source: ICANN)

ICANN, the California non-profit organization responsible for setting the name of all domains, will soon allow a vast array of new names to be created. Beginning next year, for the right amount of money ($185,000) you'll be able to create the right to use almost any word as a top level domain name (TLD) instead of generic TLDs .com, org, etc.

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Did Google Kill The Long Tail Of Keywords?

Google has been focusing search results on brand names as a quick and easy way of trying to distinguish between "quality" content and not. The idea behind this is that brands are owned by large organizations who produce the best, or at least the most reliable content around that brand keyword.

It also allows Google to essentially become the affiliate marketer for large brands because that's where they get most of their traffic. This is at the expense of smaller companies trying to make money online and who don't own major brands.

New services, such as Google Instant, make it easier to focus user searches on brands rather than the massive long tail of keywords that small marketers use to attract traffic. Google Instant can direct searchers to keyword terms they weren't going to type in but that Google knows it can make money from.

Aaron Wall, at SEOBook has produced an infographic that explains how Google has managed to chop the long tail off and concentrate on the thick, juicy, short tail of keywords, which is far more lucrative than what it can make from long tail keywords. (Embed code.)


Big Brands As Media Companies - Google Makes It Possible, Destroys Jobs

Google has been boosting large brands in its search rankings as part of a deliberate strategy to take business away from thousands of third-party affiliates -- small businesses that make money selling larger brands.

This strategy has managed to generate billions of dollars in extra revenue for Google this year. It is a war against small businesses, a major source of jobs in the US. And it's largely a secret war with very few people following, or able to understand what is happening. Google doesn't want attention on this strategy because in today's tough economy and high unemployment, Google is destroying jobs at countless small companies -- a PR nightmare.

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Breathing And Succeeding In The Startup Life

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Maharshi Mahesh Yogi

Silicon Valley is like a snow cone on a hot day -- the flavorless chunks of big ice at the top represent the large corporations, HP, etc; while the sweet juice has collected in the bottom within a multitude of smaller ice crystals -- that's where the startups live and that's where most of the innovation takes place.

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A Glimpse At Intel 40 Years Ago...


Intel celebrates it's 40th year in business this year. Above is Intel's first advert, (November 1971) for its groundbreaking 4040 microprocessor. Here are some more photos:

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MediaWatch: The 154 Year old Atlantic Magazine's Digital Transition

The Atlantic Magazine celebrates its 154 year anniversary this year and it also chalks up another rare achievement: it has crossed the digital divide and now makes more revenue from its online operations than print.

Jeremy Peters, at The New York Times' Media Decoder reports:

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MediaWatch: The Continuing Rise Of Activist Media - And The Demise Of The Fourth Estate

(Activist media from Flickr - photo is related to the OccupySF group -- credit: Mari Francille.)

A few weeks ago I pointed out that activist media, such as the posts, tweets, photos, and videos produced by the Occupy Wall Street activists, will have increase in influence, while the establishment media, such as CNN, New York Times, etc, will decline in influence.

The reason is that the business model for establishment media is under siege and that means cutbacks in resources. There are simply fewer journalists, editors, photographers, camera operators, etc, and there will be even fewer in the future as cutbacks continue to decimate the ranks of media professionals.

But activist media needs no business model, it is staffed by volunteers. And those volunteers are armed with professional quality equipment such as high definition video cameras and editing software; professional publishing systems; and a sizable distribution system through social networks.

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Happy 40th To Intel's First Microprocessor - The Start Of The Digital Revolution

Intel hands out cup cakes in New York city.

Intel today celebrates the 40th anniversary of its first microprocessor -- the 4004. It was a 4-bit chip, puny by today's standards but revolutionary at the time because it was the first commercially available programmable microprocessor.

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US Spending Cuts Will Harm Innovation, Jobs - Warns MIT President

Susan Hockfield, President of MIT, speaks about the innovation economy at the Commonwealth Club. (Flickr image.)

By Intel Free Press

American ingenuity and innovation, the twin engine of the country's economy since World War II, is in danger of losing steam and job growth potential if federal legislators allow "automatic" spending cuts to kick in next year rather than earmarking federal funds to advance education, research and manufacturing, according Massachusetts Institute of Technology President Susan Hockfield.

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Summify: Finding A Place In A Crowded Market


I met with Mircea Pașoi, co-founder of Vancouver-based Summify, a service that helps people deal with information overload by figuring out the top news stories for the day based on their peer groups on social networks.

This is an increasingly crowded field: Flipboard, Techmeme, Zite, Paper.li, Percolate, My6sense, Genieo, (and our recently launched Silicon Valley Watch), and many others, all offer variations on the theme of information overload.

They all attempt to winnow the daily flood of news stories into a ranking that automatically finds the news stories you should be seeing, or that you would see if you had the time to search through tens of thousands of feeds.

Here are some of my notes from the meeting:

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Microprocessor Pioneer Frederico Faggin On: Could Quantum Computers Rival Human Consciousness?

By Intel Free Press

If you could ask only one person about the limits of computers past, present and future, the right person might be Federico Faggin. Forty years ago Faggin meticulously sketched the blueprint that brought to life the world's first microprocessor, which later sparked the personal computer revolution.

After a career dedicated to creating evermore intelligent computer chips, he has turned his attention to what a computer, even quantum computers, may never be able to do: reach the potential of human consciousness.

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If Steve Jobs Were Looking For Funding Today He Wouldn't Get It -- He's A Marketeer

(From the PBS documentary, "Steve Jobs: One last thing.")

I watched the PBS documentary on Steve Jobs last night,"One last thing" and it was well done, mixing a fair bit of the good, the bad, and the ugly about the life of the man.

And there was a lot of praise for the "marketing genius" of Steve Jobs.

Then it struck me: If Steve Jobs were starting out today in Silicon Valley, he would have trouble getting funding because he's a marketeer — not an engineer. VCs generally won't fund startups without a tech lead.

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MediaWatch: The Inevitable Rise Of Activist Media -- Armed With An Agenda And No Need For A Business Model

(Activist media from Flickr - photo is related to the OccupySF group — credit: Mari Francille.)

I've been preparing for a presentation to TEDxSF, which is looking at the theme of "Designing your own government" -- I'm examining the role of media, especially around the Occupy Wall Street movement.

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MediaWatch: TriplePundit Merges With Sustainable Industries

San Francisco based green business media publishers TriplePundit and Sustainable Industries have announced a merger designed to combine their readership and resources to build a powerhouse media company.

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PressPage: A Quick And Effective Corporate Social Media Newsroom


Sébastien Willems (left) and Bart Verhulst from PressPage

I met with PressPage earlier this week, a Dutch based startup that offers a quick and effective way for companies to transform their newsroom into a social media hub for journalists and customers.

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Crowdpark Bets On Social Wagers - VCs Bet $6m


I recently spoke with Crowdpark, an interesting startup that allows Facebook users to wager virtual currency on football games, elections, or anything they want.

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The Coming Flood Of Internet Domain Names - Will Corporations Pony Up?

AdAge columnist Judy Shapiro writes that ICANN's new program, which allows any word to be used instead of .com or .org, etc, will create "one of the biggest changes on the Internet in a decade."

She writes:

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SFCurators Salon: The Secrets Of Apple's AppStore; Plus, Mozilla Is Building It's Own App Store

SFCurators Salon meeting was excellent as usual. It's always a great group of people and conversations.

At the latest meeting, our featured speaker was Matt Monday, a former Apple exec who lead the team that picked apps for the Apple AppStore.

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A Bottoms Up Approach To News? Newspapers' Reach Is Greater Than Internet's

Here's an interesting report on Poynter.org from the World Newspaper Congress and World Editors Forum in Vienna, Austria, and a survey of 69 countries:

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SF Prof. Leads Military Effort To Defuse "Stories Used As Weapons"

Daniel Bernardi, a professor at San Francisco's State University and three researchers in Arizona, will receive $1.6 million for a four-year project that seeks to discover and reduce the damage caused by rumors in war zones.

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Pearltrees Launches iPad App That Lets Users Connect Through Their Curated Interests

(Pearltrees is a consulting client.)

Pearltrees, a French-based curation platform, today released an iPad app that lets users easily explore the curated collections of websites created by more than 200,000 people, via a unique visual and touch interface that serves a discovery engine based on interests.

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Introducing Silicon Valley Watch - A Hand-Crafted And Hand-Curated News Site

Over the past couple of months I've been working on a news site, called Silicon Valley Watch, with my long time colleague Doug Millison, a veteran journalist and editor. It's a hand-crafted and hand-curated news site inspired by the Drudge Report.

Our goal is to figure out what is the most news information we can provide in a minimalist format.

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Interview: Former Naspers Exec On Opportunities In Emerging Markets

Naspers is an incredibly savvy media giant that has made lots of great investments in emerging markets -- surprising given its South African roots. In this interview former Naspers executive Kim Reid ranks the business opportunities in developing markets.

"... I hate being classified an entrepreneur. I am a business person."

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Tibco's CTO Matt Quinn: "I'd Do This Job For Free"

(I'm in Las Vegas this week attending Tibco's user conference. Tibco is a founding sponsor of SVW and has been a strong supporter of my work for many years.)

Tibco Software is an interesting company, it is doing extremely well, it's on track to report nearly $1 billion in revenues this year. Its software helps enterprises integrate their IT systems, analyze data in real-time, and deploy social business software. It's a complex mix of many important technologies central to the core of very large businesses in financial services, telecoms, energy, retailing, and more.

Yet few people in Silicon Valley have heard of Tibco, even though it's located right at the heart of the valley, next to Hewlett-Packard in Palo Alto, and its founder and CEO Vivek Ranadivé has been here for more than three decades and is well connected with its top movers and shakers.

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Google Just Wants To Be #3... Here's Why

My son told me about a breakthrough ad strategy he stumbled upon for his affiliate businesses: reduce your Google AdWords spend, yes, you drop down from #1 in the Google advertising order to #3 or so, but the conversion rate is still good and it's costing a lot less.

The reason I'm sharing this tidbit is because it reminded me of this: When Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, testified recently in front of a Senate committee, he was asked about a puzzling set of search results, ones that consistently showed Google sites in the #3 position...

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MediaWatch: Thomson Reuters Bloggers Attack Business Insider


(A photo from a Business Insider story.)

This was interesting: Felix Salmon, the Thomson Reuters journalist blogger recently used his blog "Felix Salmon- A slice of lime in the soda" to attack Business Insider, the news site based in New York City and founded by Henry Blodget, a former Wall Street analyst (now barred).

Mr Salmon didn't attack Business Insider personally but allowed Ryan McCarthy, a colleague to write this post: Business Insider, over-aggregation, and the mad grab for traffic.

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Analysis: What If People Stop Sharing? Facebook Has The Answer

I've often wondered if the Facebook "Like" or Google "+1" buttons are the most basic of all social gestures -- the most minimal of user generated content that can be published by social media streams.

I've wondered if these buttons represent the most basic of unit of our social media worlds -- do they represent the least amount of effort that people can make to register a social event and create "news" in their streams?

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Startups Can't Rescue US Jobs

There has been a lot of discussion lately about US jobs and Silicon Valley's role in helping to rebuild the US workforce. US government officials, and many others believe that Silicon Valley is key to reviving US jobs growth. But is this really true?

It's worth revisiting an article in Bloomberg Businessweek from last year, written by Andy Grove, a veteran Silicon Valley executive who helped build one of its most successful companies: Intel.

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Zaarly: Searching For Gold In Hyper-Local Commerce

Bo Fishback is convinced that his startup Zaarly has the potential to remake the national economy by making it easier for people to farm out small jobs to their local community.

Need someone to stand in line for you at a popular breakfast place in San Francisco? That's what one Zaarly user did recently and paid $100 for the service. People use it for all sorts of things including picking up lunch, finding a maid for the afternoon, or help with yard work.

The company is just 14 weeks old and already has more than 60,000 users. It's most active cities are San Francisco and New York. Mike Arrington, the former editor of Techcrunch is one of the investors.

Here are some notes from my meeting with Mr Fishback:

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Google Is Aggresively Pushing Revenues Amid Senate Scrutiny

Google has adopted an aggressive program of stuffing its search pages with paid listings as the financial quarter draws to a close — a risky strategy as the US Senate holds hearings on its industry dominance.

Google's search pages are being flooded with paid search listings from its AdWords advertising network in the final weeks of the Q3 financial quarter, possibly to boost revenues to meet, or exceed Wall Street analyst estimates.

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Part II: Wired's Chris Anderson - A New Model For Journalism

Part II of an interview with Wired magazine's Chris Anderson... Photo credit

By Matthew Buckland

Matthew Buckland: A while back you made some startling pronouncements on Der Spiegel Online about journalism and media, implying that journalism in the future would be a mere "hobby". Do you still hold these views... is journalism as a craft dead and dying?

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The Fast Closing Web - Interview With Wired's Chris Anderson

By Matthew Buckland

If you don't know who Chris Anderson is, you don't really understand the internet. He's one of the great technology thinkers of our time who has given us new ways of understanding how the medium has influenced business and society, and where it is all going.

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Deja View: A Curated Documentary Of Outside Lands 2011

I'm having fun pulling together a Pearltrees documentary from found footage of the recent Outside Lands 2011 music festival. I haven't seen anyone else take this approach but I expect people to do it in the future for various events, even birthday parties because it's really easy.

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Arrington Replaced At Techcrunch As AOL Seeks To Shore Up Media Credibility

AOL said it would seek a new editor for Techcrunch, the news site it acquired earlier this year. Mike Arrington, the founder and current editor will fill a minor role as an "occasional contributor."

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The Six Types Of Startups...And What Protects Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley veteran Steve Blank writing in Xconomy, does a great job in describing six types of startups and how a clear understanding of the needs of each is necessary by national and local governments seeking to foster more innovation.

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Marc Benioff Seems Like Larry Ellison...

Dreamforce 2011 has taken over downtown San Francisco, closing down streets, just like Larry Ellison's Oracle World.

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StartupWatch: Clarizen Simplifies Project Management, Changes Company Culture

Coordinating the work of dozens and even hundreds of people is a terrifying task but that's what Clarizen does and does it very well judging from the company's impressive growth, adding more than 200 customers a month.

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StartupWatch: Engine Yard Moves Beyond Rails To PHP

It's always a pleasure to catch up with John Dillon, CEO of Engine Yard because he's a Silicon Valley veteran and that gives him a perspective into trends and key issues that less experienced managers lack.

At Engine Yard, he's smack dab in the middle of some of the most innovative software developments because his company's platform as a service, helps businesses to quickly develop and deploy applications built from Ruby on Rails. It's harnessing the power of the cloud to quickly produce and deploy advanced applications at a fraction of their former cost.

"Companies are now able to develop applications just for one use, they can be disposable. But also, quick deployment means that they can see what works and what doesn't. It's all innovation."

Corporate departments can now commission apps and use Engine Yard to deploy those apps without having to engage their data center IT staff, who are usually too busy on other projects, or maintaining existing software.

Ruby on Rails has become the language of choice for many developers because it has shown to be scalable and has been successfully used in some large corporate development projects and large consumer web services. And so the demand for Ruby on Rails specialists is soaring. Mr Dillon points out that in San Francisco, there are some 700 unfilled Ruby on Rails jobs.

But despite the popularity of Rails Mr Dillion believes there's a strong future for PHP to become a strong Rails competitor. Which is why the company recently acquired Irish startup Orchestra, because the same technologies that support its Ruby on Rails customers can be used to support PHP development.

Despite the shortage of Rails engineers in San Francisco, Mr Dillon says this is not a constraint on demand for Engine Yard services and that growth has been very strong. The company has relationships with several hundred developers that can be hired for development jobs. Also, other areas of the US don't have such intense demand, such as Portland, Oregon, where Engine Yard has connections and where there is less competition for engineers.


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StartupWatch: A Trillion Line Spreadsheet -- Manipulating Big Data

New York based 1010data likes to ask: "What could you do with a trillion row spreadsheet?" because it shows off the capability its technology has in analyzing massive amounts of data.

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Intel Chips Confuse Retailers... What Hope Consumers?

Do you know the difference between Intel's newest microprocessors and older generations? Intel found that sales people are confused so how about consumers?

By Intel Free Press

Looking for the latest back-to-school laptops might have shoppers wondering if the sales associates, themselves, should be going back to school.

That was the appearance, at least, when several retail stores in the Sacramento, Calif. area were visited to see if staff knew a basic piece of information about Intel Core processors.

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Steve Jobs And The Next Generation Of Silicon Valley Leaders

Chris O'Brien, a columnist at the San Jose Mercury News asked: Who will be Silicon Valley's next Steve Jobs?

He picked out five possible contenders and rejected a sixth.

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There's A Hush In The Air...And A Burn Coming Up


There's been a perceptible hush in the air around San Francisco as people get busy finalizing their Burning Man preparations. You can see cars and vans being packed, bikes being strapped and roof racks piled high.

Burning Man is very much a San Francisco/Silicon Valley festival. It's a type of Dionysian harvest festival where people bring together tremendous creativity and industry and where there's no commercial payoff at all. There's no commerce and there's no advertising and no sponsorships.

Out of a dusty ancient lake bed where nothing can grow, a city of 50,000 people rises, with buildings and structures several stories tall.

A week later it all goes away, back to the bitter alkali dust that is everyone's souvenir of Burning Man because you keep finding it in every nook and cranny.

Burning Man always seems so unique and so fragile, it always seems that it might fall apart, but it hasn't yet.

A core culture...

Burning Man has been around long enough, since 1986, that it is now core to the experience of the culture of the Bay Area. That's why you should plan to go one day.

But a trip to Burning Man is not about throwing a weekend bag into the back of the car. You have to pack everything in and out. There is only ice and coffee that you can buy in the centre camp. You have to bring everything and take everything back out with you.

Also, the environment is hostile. This is where they should test the mars rover because the extremes of temperature, rain, sand storms, freezing wind -- are harsh. This is not a pleasant experience and it's not for the weekend spa goer. Which is why Burning Man attracts a particular type of person.

Playa art...

The best part of Burning Man is the art in the playa -- a truly vast canvas where people create incredible art. Some of it is giant sculptures such as the one above, "Bliss" a 40 foot tall sculpture of a dancing woman built by artist Marco Cochrane, you can see it on Treasure Island.

It's a good example of the huge ambitions of the artists that come together at Burning Man.

It teaches...

The event is important because it teaches a lot of things: town planning, survival in extreme environments, cooperation with others, how to work in teams, how to be productive, and how to be generous. There is no commerce of any type at Burning Man, the art and other projects rarely have any names attached to them.

The entire experience is unmediated, there is no expectation of any kind, it's a meritocracy of in it's truest sense -- there is no history. Each year Burning Man is reborn again, from the same dust but into a totally new world.

Commerce free... mind free

The commerce-free experience is great because it frees up a lot of your mind that you didn't realize was affected. For example, there are dozens of radio stations, several daily newspapers but there's no advertising. Even brand names on the sides of rental vans are blacked out. There is nothing that is "sponsored by Intel" or any visible brands at all. As far as you can see.

It was painful leaving Black Rock City and moving beyond the range of the Burning Man radio stations and having to switch to commercial radio, even PBS. It was so hard having to listen to all those commercials.

Even reading a magazine with adverts was difficult for many days. I realized how much I'm flooded with commercial messages, repeatedly, constantly. It felt very good to be away from all that commerce chatter because it freed up some of my internal dialogue.

That's a great benefit of Burning Man: living for a week in a place where there is no commerce at all. A commerce-free experience -- where else can you get that? Nowhere. Everywhere you go in the world, even remote territories, someone is trying to sell you something -- but not at Burning Man. That's a priceless experience.

All the work that people do to build Black Rock City is donated, there is no commercial intent. To see an entire city functioning, productive, and so innovative -- without any commercial payoff or intent is truly extraordinary. What type of blueprint could it provide for our cities today? [IBM with its Smart Cities program should study Black Rock City.]

Plus, Burning Man can be a great place for networking. Eric Schmidt got his job at Google because he hung out with Larry and Sergey there one year.


Steve Wozniak And The Secret Apple Co-Founder On Steve Jobs...

Bloomberg Television's Emily Chang has a great interview with Apple co-founders Steve Wozniak and Ron Wayne on Steve Jobs:

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Does The Sexuality Of A CEO Matter?

The sexuality of CEOs is a dull subject I have no interest in what they do with their genitalia and I think I'm right in speaking for the majority of people in our Silicon Valley circles.

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Analysis: Is "Quality Content" A GOOG Red Herring?

I've been writing about Google's Panda algorithm change and the huge amount of pain that it's caused for content websites since it was introduced in late February.

Before the launch of Panda Google spent months bad-mouthing "content farms" and how the new algorithm would weed out the bad content. The first version was called "Farmer" as a reference to "content farms" -- sites that scrape or produce low quality content just to game search rankings.

Who could argue with such a noble goal?

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HubPages CEO On Google's Panda: SEO Doesn't Work

I met with Paul Edmondson, CEO of HubPages, and Jason Menayan Director of Marketing to talk about how the publishing site is dealing with the aftermath of Google's major update to its algorithm, Panda, released earlier this year.

Panda has caused huge problems for publishers because it cut off massive amounts of traffic in a bid to force publishers to produce higher quality content.

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Interview With Former BBC Exec Now Head Of Intel Digital Home Group

Erik Huggers knows very little about silicon which made him a prime candidate to head Intel's Digital Home Group based in London. He worked at Microsoft and most recently at the BBC as director of the director of the Future Media & Technology organization.

By Intel Free Press

Since joining Intel 4 months ago, have you ever asked yourself, "What have I gotten myself into here?"

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WeekendWatcher: Recreating Outside Lands 2011 - A Curation Of Found Fan Footage



Last weekend I was at the Outside Lands 2011 music festival in Golden Gate Park. It was a great event with three days of music from four stages. And San Francisco's relentless grey summer fog lifted for two days -- it was a very happy crowd.

Discovering new music all in one place is a great way to spend three days and there was lots of music that was new to me.

Unmediated experiences...

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Guest Post: Why Google+ Gets A Great Big Minus

[Basheera Khan is a user experience designer focusing on information architecture and content strategy.]

By Basheera Khan

The proposition is simple: Google+ is a social network built on the foundation of what you do and who you know. I'll leave off the qualifier of the word 'online' because, well, d'uh.

The problem with the execution is how heavily it relies on Google Contacts for the who you know bit. This 'product' is so messy and error-prone that I still consider it to be an alpha.

For starters, there's no easy way to handle duplicate contacts within Google Contacts. But Google+'s recommendations for who you could connect with are driven by the information in your Google Contacts.

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'Big Data' Fuels Mohr Davidow Investments

A few weeks ago I was over at Sand Hill Road to meet with a group of startups funded by Mohr Davidow Ventures. The theme was "Big Data" and how these companies were using data to build their businesses.

It was a varied and interesting collection of startups. Here are some of my notes:

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Here Comes The Flood: Major VC Fims Funding Corporate Media Push Into Social Media

Somewhat lost in Monday's news because of Google's acquisition of Motorola, Buddy Media, a New York startup raised $54 million at a $500 million valuation.

Buddy Media helps corporations set up and run their presence on a wide range of social networks.

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Intel Is Investigating Server Errors Caused By Background Radiation

By Intel Free Press

Two employees in Intel's Corporate Quality Network have been running a remarkable chip experiment, 2,150 feet beneath the Chihuahuan Desert in New Mexico.

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Social Media Club Celebrates Five Years

(My favorite photo of Kristie and Chris at a fancy dress party.)

Thursday evening I was at a dinner celebrating five years of Social Media Club. I was at the inception, the back porch of Chris Heuer and Kristie Well's San Francisco apartment when they were pulling together the idea.

Five years on there are active clubs in more than 250 cities, a stunning testament to the stubborn and persistent efforts of Chris and Kristie.

I spoke with them about what they would like to see happen over the next five years:

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Infographic: How Much Do Engineers Earn?

Rivera Partners put together salary data on software engineers:

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Google Refuses Korean Real-Names Policy But Imposes It On G+ Users

Google's insistence that people use their real names on Google Plus goes against its official policy of refusing to comply with South Korea's Real-Name verification law.

The Korean law forces web sites with more than 100,000 visitors per day to force users to use their real names. Google got around it by stopping Korean users of YouTube from posting comments and told them to upload video to a neighboring country's YouTube site.

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Markets Fall: What Will Happen To Silicon Valley Recovery?

Turmoil in global financial markets and economies is never good for Silicon Valley despite the fact that the regional economy has its own boom and boost cycles that operate on a different timetable.

Currently, Silicon Valley has been booming, recapturing p the trend that was in place in the second half of 2008 before the financial meltdown, of growing VC investments and jobs. But like that recovery in 2008 which ran smack into an economic crisis, will this recovery again be nipped in the bud?

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Neccesity Is The Mother Of Invention - Popular Portland iPhone App

By Intel Free Press

Andy Wallace remembers clearly what life was like living in Portland, Oregon before he had the 'Take Me Home' button on his iPhone's PDX Bus app.

Eight years of commuting to work some 250 miles each week had Wallace often sprinting from his public light rail stop in order to catch the right city bus. Relying on quick feet and good timing, he would have to make what he calls "a perfect storm of connections" or else get stuck taking the long way home.

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Are Women Bad for Start-ups? You've Got To Be Kidding...

By Vanessa Camones, PR veteran and founder of theMIX agency.

Women have made astounding advances in the workforce in the past fifty years. Even in the tech sector, traditionally an enclave of geeky guys, women have progressed from support roles to becoming respected builders, leaders and innovators.

We're still a minority, but no longer an anomaly.

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Intel Engineer Helps Build Submarine, Finds Sunken Treasure

Tales of sunken treasure have fascinated the world since perhaps the first sunken ship, but few can claim a story of their own.

By Intel Free Press

Ken Privitt is a technical marketing engineer at Intel who happens to have built a small submarine with his father years ago. Now, a lot of Intel employees have interesting hobbies and stories to tell, but Privitt's may be among the more unique. His story involves a nearly 150-year-old shipwreck, the submarine, the Supreme Court, and a fortune in gold. It even has an interesting twist.

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Every Company Is A Media Company FIR Live

I recently spoke with Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson on a live broadcast of FIR: For Immediate Release, discussing content strategies and the concept of "every company is a media company" along with Wendy Tanaka, from Cisco Systems.

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WIMM Labs: An Internet Of 1-Inch Screens...

WIMM Labs today launched a modular device that shrinks a PC behind a tiny color display screen with wireless connectivity and full day battery power.

The company hopes it will become a platform for a broad range of applications, ranging from wrist watches to golf-swing monitors. It contains an accelerometer, magnetometer, WiFi, Bluetooth and is waterproof. The color display is about one-inch on each side for a diagonal screen of 1.4 inches.

Foxconn, the giant electronics manufacturer, is an investor in WIMM Labs.

I met with the team behind WIMM Labs last week for a sneak preview.

"We wanted to make the module as thin as a Rolex," said Dave Mooring, CEO. He expects watch makers to use the device but also a wide range of different companies. "We will partner with brands and help them develop unique applications," he said.

WIMM has developed a few simple apps to show off the capabilities of the module and it has a software development kit based on the Android operating system, available in the third quarter of this year.

The module is pricy, at about $200, which means initially it will be targeted at a high-end market. Mr Mooring, who used to work at Intel, says Moore's Law will bring down the price significantly.

The display features a touch screen input and it's bright and surprisingly easy to read for its size. The challenge for WIMM will be to persuade companies to develop apps for the module instead of apps for smart phones.

Mr Mooring believes that smart phone apps are too clumsy to use. "This is a glance and swipe solution, it's always on, and you don't need to find and run an app on your phone -- it takes too much time."

WINN has also developed an "App store" that its oem customers can white label and use to showcase their apps.

It is currently working with a small number of developers on applications such as SportyPal, which sells sport fitness monitoring devices.

Gligor Dacevski of CreationPal, developer of SportyPal, said: “Because the WIMM device is always on and always attached to the body, our fitness app on the WIMM Platform helps athletes in the gym or on the field, giving them immediate guidance and feedback on their workout.”

More info here: WIMM Labs


Social Media Is Not Corporate Media

There's a gold rush going on as legions of self-proclaimed experts are working with corporations to help them monetize the potential riches in exploiting social media.

I look at the links and articles that social media "experts" are sharing all day long on Twitter, Facebook, etc, and it all boils down to this type of message: "Here are ways to turn social media into a lucrative corporate marketing/sales channel."

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Here's How Google+ Could Be Used To Create Killer Apps

By Graeme Lipschitz

The meteoric launch of Google+ (20-million users in less than 3 weeks) can be seen as the proverbial phoenix rising from the ashes of such failures as Buzz and Wave - the word 'Circles' immediately comes to mind here.

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We Live In An "And" World... It's Quantum Not Binary

Something is always killing something else in the world of tech headline writers. Apple iPhone is killing something or being killed; and Google+ is killing something or being killed; or...

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Scary Google: Larry Page Wants To Change The World


Steven Levy, a senior editor at Wired, spent a lot of time at Google researching his new book, "In the Plex." And he spent a lot of time with the new CEO Larry Page.

Mr Levy says Google is now in the hands of "a true corporate radical."

In an article for Wired, "Larry Page Wants to Return Google to Its Startup Roots" he reports that Mr Page has said many times, that he has always "wanted to change the world."

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SFCurators: Our Public, Private, And Secret Lives...

SFCurators Salon met Wednesday evening at PeopleBrowsr and I'm still buzzing from all the great conversations and ideas it generated.

We pulled our chairs into a large circle to get away from the traditional arrangement of speakers on a podium and audience down below. This is a salon of peers not podiums.

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Altimeter Group: Dealing With Deaf Corporations... Who's Listening?

(Charlene Li, founder of Altimeter Group listens to Patrice Lamothe, CEO of Pearltrees.)

I have a soft spot for the Altimeter Group, a pioneering band of consultants founded by the impressive Charlene Li, with a mission to educate corporate America about the value of listening and engaging with customers.

It's tough work. Wednesday evening we heard Susan Etlinger, Industry Analyst at Altimeter, speak about her latest research and lamenting the fact that most corporations have no frameworks or methods in place to make sure that everyone "listens" to customers. There's no incentive built into company cultures to "listen."

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Jumio's Payments Breakthrough Challenges PayPal, Square, And Others

Jumio's breakthrough "NetSwipe" payment processing technology that transforms any webcam into a credit card terminal, has the potential to threaten PayPal and emerging payment startups such as Square.

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The Tamagotchi Nature Of Social Networks...

A significant part of my day is spent maintaining my profiles on my social networks: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and now Google+.

Some of my time spent in these networks is genuinely useful but a lot of it is spent in housekeeping chores, I'm constantly peppered with tasks: approve these friends, like these pages, it's Joe Smith's birthday wish him happy birthday, someone commented on a post you commented on, you were tagged in this post/photo...

Sometimes it feels like I should spend my entire life here, tapping and typing all day long, running that hamster wheel.

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100th Annversary: Media Pundits On Media Pundit Marshall McLuhan...

Here is a selection of what media pundits had to say about uber media pundit Marshall McLuhan on the 100 year anniversary of his birth.

As far I'm concerned, if you write about media and you didn't write anything about Marshall McLuhan this past week, you should be in some other job.

Everyone has their own interpretation of Mr McLuhan's insights into our modern electronic media world media. Here are some:

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SaturdayPost: McLuhan's Relevance In Today's Media Mess Age...

(Portrait of Marshall McLuhan by Yousuf Karsh. Copyright the Estate of Yousuf Karsh.)

You may have noticed that the media loves to cover the media -- it's a narcissism that is not unique to the profession but certainly more visible because of its ready means of expression.

It's partly media's fascination with itself, that there is a lot of media this week about Marshall McLuhan: the philosopher prince of the media world. It's the 100 year anniversary of his birth, July 21.

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Google: Please Give Me A Throat To Choke...

I have a serious problem: my GMail contacts won't load. That means GMail is almost unusable because it won't autocomplete my email addresses. I have to go search and paste email addresses, it's too many clicks

For the past two months I get this message on GMail:

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MoneyTree Report: Forget The Bubble The Rise In VC Investments Is Unsustainable

The latest MoneyTree Report from PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), based on data provided by Thomson Reuters:

-Q2 2011 VC investments jump 19% to $7.5 billion in 966 deals. Year ago: $6.3 billion in 814 deals

- Latest quarter is highest total since Q2 2008.

These high levels are not sustainable says Mark Heesen, president of the NVCA:

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GOOG Analysis: The Massive Mystery In Google's Finances And Why This Is Bad For Publishers

Google [$GOOG] reported stellar 2011 Q2 earnings but Google's partner sites, which used to account for half of its revenues, showed a massive lag in growth.

The partner sites are part of Google's AdSense network and include large media companies such as The New York Times.

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We Live In The Age Of Conversation Overload: G+, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn...



I can deal with information overload -- if I didn't get to read that special article everyone is sharing then no big deal. But conversation overload is an entirely different thing.

As a journalist I have trouble keeping up with the conversations in my email, yet today I have conversations everywhere and in new places. There's email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, my two blogs, then there are SMS messages, voicemail (which I never check) and the latest is: Google Plus.

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On Aggregators And Rewriters...Bring Back Bloggers


(Photo: Aggregator Gabe Rivera)

Gabe Rivera, founder of the excellent TechMeme is irked that the term "aggregator" is being misapplied especially within the context of the HuffPost event earlier this week [Adweek Slams HuffPost But What About Adweek Senior Editor Michael Wolff's Newser? - SVW]

His argument is that the Huffington Post is not an aggregator, people rewrite other people's stories; that's different to what Techmeme does, which is to aggregate headlines to stories.

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Interview With Vanessa Camones: It Pays To Out Silicon Valley Bullies...

I recently spoke with Vanessa Camones, a Silicon Valley PR veteran and founder of theMIX agency about the reaction to her recent article about Mike Arrington, Editor of TechCrunch: DIGIDAY:DAILY - Entrepreneurs Should Say No to Silicon Valley's Bully.

One of my readers suggested that Vanessa's surname become "Cojones" because of her bold position in taking on Mr Arrington. Many PR people have made similar complaints about Techcrunch but she is the only one to have gone on public record.

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MediaWatch Monday: Interview With Matt Mullenweg On The Future Of WordPress

(Photo credit: www.anthony.com)
By Michelle Atagana, Memeburn

Named as one of the 25 most influential people on the web, Matt Mullenweg founded and runs an open source web platform that has revolutionized website publishing. WordPress began its life as free, open-source blogging software which quickly evolved into a general-purpose CMS used by millions of sites on the web. The success of WordPress speaks for itself -- and it is one of the most popular content management system engines around today, also used by many Fortune 500 companies.

Mullenweg at only 27 also runs the commercial arm of WordPress, Automattic, which is the company behind WordPress and a handful of other software projects. WordPress is used by more than 14% of the one million biggest websites including those of The New York Times.

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Rupert Murdoch And The SoDOMM Effect In Social Media

Today's news of the demise of The News of the World newspaper was both shocking and exhilarating: that a 168 year old Sunday newspaper with more than 200 staff, selling almost 3 million copies a week, can be closed so suddenly is without precedence.

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Leaving Silicon Valley...

Leaving Silicon Valley -- I highly recommend it.

I just got back from a week in London, speaking at an Omnicom conference and then a week in Warsaw (which was excellent). And I'm finding it difficult to get back into the swing of things.

The problem is that every time I leave Silicon Valley for a decent length of time, I wake up and realize that there's a whole huge world out there that doesn't care a jot about the things that we care about here, such as:

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Interview With Google's "Content Tzar" Former BBC Journalist Peter Barron

By Nur Bremmen, MemeBurn

It's not easy to run an online content business in an age where everyone is a publisher. Everyone is doing it and there's never been competition in the content business like this before.

If we cut through the hyperbole and the evangelism, we're left with the simple fact that online advertising, while promising, is not making the same bucks as its traditional media counterparts.

The model is still evolving and can be confusing at times. So what is the future of content and online advertising?

Memeburn got the answers from Google's content Tzar, Peter Barron. He spoke about paywalls, Google News, filtering news by social recommendations, and the future of online advertising.

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Startup Launch: MyTab Offers Simple Group Travel Gifting

I've been consulting with Heddi Cundle and her new startup MyTab, which offers a very simple way friends and family can help fund travel for each other.

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Curation Watch: New Pearltrees Simplifies Sharing And Publishing

(Pearltrees is a consulting client.)

Pearltrees this week released a version of its online curation service that allows it to be embedded in Facebook walls and makes it easier to share Pearls of content across different online communities.

The company also said that it has crossed the 150,000 user mark, a major milestone. The Pearltrees community is by far the largest digital curation group online.

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It's Time For PR Community To Grow Some Cojones And Out Silicon Valley Bullies

Vanessa Camones is a veteran PR professional. She is the founder of theMIX agency and today she did a very bold thing: she outed one of Silicon Valley's leading personalities, Mike Arrington, the editor of Techcrunch as a bully.

In her post titled: DIGIDAY:DAILY - Entrepreneurs Should Say No to Silicon Valley's Bully, she writes that many startups would love to have coverage by Techcrunch.

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Biz Stone's Departure From Twitter Was Predictable

Earlier this year I predicted that Twitter co-founders Ev Williams and Biz Stone wouldn't be around for long. How did I do this?

It was simple:

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IBM @100 Years - Global Innovation Is About Silicon Valley Not IBM

SamPalmisano1.jpgCongratulations to IBM and its 100 years in business - from making cheese graters to supercomputers, and much, much more.

IBM is seen as very much an East Coast company yet its history shows a strong and long connection with the Silicon Valley area, way before it was even called Silicon Valley.

Innovation is key to the IBM brand yet it does very little to promote that connection and its continued large presence in Silicon Valley. IBM has employed as many as 25,000 workers here, larger than Google (until fairly recently).

This region has become the global icon for innovation, every week I meet companies that are moving their headquarters here from all parts of the country and world, because they want to be where the action is.

It seems strange that IBM doesn't associate itself more strongly with this important center of innovation. Is it a cultural artifact?

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Really?! MoFo Tech - A Newsletter From Silicon Valley Lawyers

MoFoMag.jpg

I just saw "MoFo Tech" (above) an edgy-designed newsletter from Morrison & Foerster LLP, a top Silicon Valley law firm.

It's certainly an attention getting title and look. And here's their web site, great design:

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Forsook! Google Can't Spell "Facebook"

I use GMail all the time and its spell checker is usually pretty good. But the other day I noticed it can't spell "Facebook."

I tried some other computer company names but only Facebook was flagged:

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The New Media Digital Divide... Study Finds Elites Continue To Dominate

A study by Jen Schradie at UC Berkeley found that the digital divide is alive and well in the new media world despite proclamations of a new democratic leveling of online media through blogs, Tweets, etc.

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TEDxSF - A Curation Of People And Ideas...

I've been to several TEDxSF events but the most recent one felt like a breakthrough event because of the mix of people and talks, plus the new venue.

The event was sold out with about 650 tickets for the Yerba Buena location, a larger theater than the Academy of Sciences, where it used to be held. The mix of people was eclectic as always.

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Notes From 8th Innovation Journalism Conference

Last week's 8th Innovation Journalism Conference produced a lot of interesting sessions and sparked a lot of ideas.

This year David Nordfors, the founder of the conference and Executive Director of the Stanford Center for Innovation and Communication, opened up the conference to public relations, a smart move because of the connection between journalism and PR.

Here are some of my notes from the conference:

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A Visit To SRI: Top Secret R&D In The Heart Of Silicon Valley

Tucked away in a quiet, tree lined residential neighborhood of Menlo Park, SRI International runs a massive 1 million square foot research lab in the heart of Silicon Valley, where many of its 2100 staff toil on secret projects for the US Dept. of Defense (DoD).

SRI's work might be top secret but it's not hiding. This 65 year old organization is hugely influential within Silicon Valley, with close ties with leading VC firms, and within the largest companies.

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Is There A Business Model For "Innovation Journalism?"

I'm spending much of this week at the 8th Conference on Innovation Journalism at Stanford University, speaking on panels, keynoting on ethics, and listening and discussing "innovation journalism" with journalists and academics.

But what is innovation journalism?

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Klout, PeerIndex, Empire Avenue, Et Al... Shortcuts Without Insights

Lots of people I know in PR and marketing are enamored by new services such as Klout, PeerIndex, and Empire Avenue, which seek to provide a quick assessment on any person's online influence.

If you want to know the top influencers in a specific niche market, these services will provide you with a simple number for each person, which you can use to rank the influencers.

Their goal is to provide information to publicists and marketers to help them target the right people in their markets.

But it seems to me that there's a big problem with this approach. If you, as a publicist or marketer, need to consult these services, this probably shows that you are clueless about who is important in the very markets that you are selling into.

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ADP - The Original Cloud Company - Is "Bored With The Cloud"

"I'm so bored with the cloud," laughs Mike Capone, CIO of Automatic Data Processing (ADP), the payroll processing giant and the original "cloud computing" company, also known as SAAS (Software As A Service).

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Oriella Survey: Most Journalists Shun Social Media And Blogs

A survey of nearly 500 journalists across 15 countries has found that some journalists use social media and blogs to source and verify stories. But the majority don't.

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Curation Is Not Cheap Content...

There seems to be quite a few people in marketing that look upon "curation" as an inexpensive and quick way to get content onto a site.

After all, how hard can it be to collect a few links and publish them?

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Fantastic Insight Into The Closed Box Google Culture From A Recent Xoogler

Douwe Osinga, a software engineer, recently left Google after seven years. He's written a series of blog posts explaining why he left and also describing what it was like working there, and he dispels some of the many myths about Google.

For example: The 20% time myth.

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Secondary Markets: Much Needed Liquidity For Silicon Valley Startups Or A Private Stock Market For The Rich?

Tuesday afternoon I was in the "Gulag," the warren of Venture Capital firms along Sand Hill Road, to attend SharePost's conference on "Market Issues & Opportunities for Private Companies."

The conference room was packed and for good reason. The lack of IPOs over the past ten years has created a liquidity crisis: how do investors and entrepreneurs get some of their money out of their companies, many of whom are profitable enterprises?

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Paper Or Electron ... The Medium Doesn't Define Journalism

MG Siegler, one of the top reporters at Techcrunch, recently wrote on his personal site about the silly distinction that some people make between bloggers and journalists.

It is similar to my experience of when I left the Financial Times to launch SVW in mid-2004. Many people said I was now a "blogger" but I pointed out that I'm still writing news, conducting interviews, writing analysis articles, in pretty much the same manner as I did at the Financial Times. I was still a journalist.

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Mike Arrington Replies To His Critics

Mike Arrington, Editor of Techcrunch, yesterday replied to his critics. In his post he said he would continue to make investments and that everyone in Silicon Valley is conflicted in one way or another.

I still believe that editors and reporters should not be investors in companies that they cover. I'd like to invite Mike Arrington, and anyone else that's interested in the topic of ethics in journalism, to join me at the upcoming 8th Conference on Innovation Journalism at Stanford University - May 23 to 25.

There will be lots of discussion about all aspects of journalism and how it applies to reporting about innovation. And there will also be sessions about the role of PR. Registration is just $50. Here is the agenda.

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Venture Capitalist Joanna Rees: San Francisco's "Innovation" Mayor?

Wednesday afternoon was one of those rare San Francisco days where it was too hot to stay working indoors, so I popped over to an event that Peter Hirshberg, a local entrepreneur, had told me about: a chance to meet Joanna Rees, a candidate for mayor of San Francisco, and hear about her "innovation" platform.

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Innovation Journalism: Why Silicon Valley Startups Deserve A Level Playing Field

Media coverage is very important for startups. It is how they gain respect in their community, it is how they can win investors, and it is invaluable in helping to recruit staff.

Positive media coverage will also help gain users of their products and services, providing valuable marketing services that could cost tens of thousands of dollars.

But the only reason media coverage of a startup and their product is valuable is that the media coverage is seen as a neutral third party -- it has no financial bias in its reporting.

The only acceptable bias is a thirst for a great story and selecting the best startups to write about.

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MediaWatch: Techcrunch Editor Disclosed Only After Swisher Questioned AOL

There is a widespread perception within the Silicon Valley community, that when it comes to the media, as long as everything is disclosed about potential reporting biases, then it's OK.

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More Thoughts On Curation And Rescuing Content From The Obscurity Of The Timeline...

Last week I wrote about the tyranny of the timeline and how good content disappears once it is pushed off the home page and into the archives.

[How Curation Can Rescue Great Content From The Tyranny Of The Timeline - SVW]

Of course, the content is still there in the archives, it is reachable, and it is searchable; but only if you know it is there.

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Bullshit: Arrington Claims Relationships Are Bigger Problem Than Money

Mike Arrington, the Techcrunch editor who was forced to disclose his investments by Kara Swisher, Editor of All Things Digital, is trying to prove that relationships are a larger problem than money in reporting.

In an interview with Nicholas Carlson, at Business Insider, he says:

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Wow! Kara Swisher Investigation Forced Arrington To Disclose Investments

Kara Swisher, editor of "All Things Digital," reported that Techcrunch Editor Mike Arrington disclosed his investments in startups following her questions about the matter, put to AOL senior management.

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Out And About: Techcrunch Bombshell Draws Lots Of Passionate Critics

I went out to several parties last night related to the AppNation conference that's in town and spoke to a lot of developers and others about the revelation that Techcrunch editor Mike Arrington is investing in startups and his admission that it will affect his coverage.

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What Year Is It? Try 1996...

History does not repeat itself but it does rhyme, as Mark Twain noticed. So as this current Internet boom builds momentum, and acquires some of the characteristics of the 1990s' boom-to-bubble years, at what stage are we in? What's the year?

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Twitter Congratulates Itself For Its Role In The "Renewal" Of San Francisco

After months of negotiations, late last week Twitter said it would stay in San Francisco, thanks to a multi-year cut in its payroll taxes on new hires.

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Do Jerks Do Better In Silicon Valley?


This morning on CNBC, Ryan Tate from Gawker and I, were debating "questionable ethics and jerk behavior by CEOs" it was related to my post last week: Questionable Ethics And The Next Generation Of Entrepreneurs; and Ryan's follow up: Why Are Tech Founders Such Assholes?

Ryan made a good point on the show that looking at some of the largest success stories in Silicon Valley right now, such as Facebook and Apple, it appears that you do need to be a jerk to win.

I disagreed. Being a jerk has nothing to do with success. In this business it is teams that win -- not individuals. If you are a jerk it quickly gets around and people will avoid you, they will choose to work elsewhere given the choice.

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More Thoughts On Ways To Free Ai Weiwei... Boycott Wal-Mart?

I spend way too much time in the tech and media echo chamber so it's always a pleasure to get away from it and explore different subjects.

I'm on a Christopher Hitchens trip at the moment. I'm really enjoying his autobiography. His prose is so well crafted, and effortless, there's a tremendous amount of pleasure in reading it.

He does a great job in presenting his principles and his reasoning on controversial subjects. And he doesn't flinch from taking moral and ethical stands on important subjects, such as the war in Iraq, and on calling a spade a spade, when he writes that Henry Kissinger is a war criminal and should be tried as one.

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How Curation Can Rescue Great Content From The Tyranny Of The Timeline

When I first started blogging in 2004, I didn't like the way blogging software gradually pushed older stories off the page and into the archives.

It tended to discourage me from writing some posts because I didn't want to lose better, or what I thought were more important posts, from the home page.

Because once articles enter the archives it is like disappearing into a deep well. They are gone. And search won't help because search only works if you know something is there.

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Questionable Ethics And The Next Generation Of Entrepreneurs

The film "The Social Network" has helped to make startups popular among young people the world over. It's just one factor inspiring new generations of entrepreneurs hoping to succeed through innovation and hard work.

But are they learning ethical ways of doing business?

The more we find out about Mark Zuckerberg and his behavior during the early days of Facebook, the more he reveals a cavalier attitude to ethics.

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Silicon Valley Is Back - Best Year Since Boom Of 2000

It's taken a decade but Silicon Valley companies have climbed out of dotcom dotbomb recession and reported their most profitable year in history.

The San Jose Mercury News reports that 2010 was a banner year for the 150 largest Silicon Valley companies.

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Google's Search For Quality... And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance

Google regularly changes its algorithm and it's a smart move because all the companies that were trying to game Google -- and were succeeding in taking advantage of the some 200 rules that make up the algorithm -- get shaken out of the results.

It's a quick way of finding the most egregious gamers of the system.

And Google's recent release of its "Panda" algorithm update was designed to find quality sites and raise them in the search rankings.

But Panda is causing a lot of pandaemonium for all types of businesses, those that played by Google's "white hat" SEO rules, and those that didn't.

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First Meeting Of SFCurators Salon...

Last Thursday was the inaugural meeting of SFCurators Salon in North Beach and I couldn't be more happier about the turnout (see below).

I set up the group with my colleague Oliver Starr as a place where like-minded people could discuss the topic of curation, which has become a hot topic this year as search falters, and as curation tools and services come out of beta and into more mainstream use. (Please see: Pearltrees Reaches Key Milestones: Largest Curation Community - SVW)

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Google Partner Sites Show Weak Growth - Bad News For Publishers

Google's Q1 2011 financial results show a significant shift in revenues away from its partner sites in its AdSense advertising network.

Google [$GOOG] typically relies on partner sites for about 30% of total revenues but over the past year it has managed to reduce that to 28%.

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Bubble Boy Blodget Blasts Bubble 2.0

Henry Blodget is very much a poster boy for the dotcom bubble. The former Wall Street analyst and now editor of Business Insider, knows bubbles very well. You could say he helped build Bubble 1.0 with his enthusiastic research reports, which supported lofty valuations of key dotcom stocks.

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Pearltrees Reaches Key Milestones: Largest Curation Community

(Patrice Lamothe, CEO of Pearltrees.)

I'm proud to bring you news about Pearltrees, the company I've been working with the past year: this morning it announced it has reached 100,000 members and monthly traffic of 10 million pageviews -- that's about 100 page views per month per member.

This makes Pearltrees the largest curation community on the web. That's a great achievement and it comes at a great time because curation has become a hot topic as Internet users struggle to find spam-free content.

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Some Thoughts On The Social Distribution Of Mass Media...(SoDOMM)

(Photo shows a meeting of the seminal Homebrew Computing Club - credit: Computer History Museum.)

Earlier this week I pointed out how "social media" has changed from its original promise of challenging the established order of mass media.

Where are the brigades of citizen journalists? What's become of the hope of the grass roots revolt against the gate keepers in our national and local media?

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The Demise Of Social Media And The Return Of Mass Media

There have been quite a few studies lately on what people Tweet and post on Facebook, and the large number of links that people share. Invariably, the links that most people share belong to large media organizations -- what used to be called mass-media.

For example, Nate Silver recently analyzed links to news sources and found that of the top 30 news sources, nearly all were traditional large news sites such as AP or New York Times, only TMZ and Politico were new.

A recent Yahoo! Research report found just 20,000 elite Twitter users produce 50% of Tweets (Twitter has 150 m users). Sounds very mass-media like to me, I bet 10,000 of those users are journalists Tweeting about their stories.

[Study Shows How Social Media Amplifies Mass Media - SVW]

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The World Has Room For Only Nine More Googles... Or 1,000+ Startups

Here's an interesting analysis of the advertising industry and Silicon Valley's growing bubble in new media by Rick Webb.

He argues that Silicon Valley is heading for a cliff in funding too many startups to provide new media channels for advertisers.

He writes that there seems to be a perception that there will be far more money in online advertising than there really is.

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MediaWatch: Newspapers May Have Even Further To Fall

It may seem as if the downward spiral of newspaper's fortunes has slowed, and maybe even stabilized but that could be a false observation according to a new study.

Alan D. Mutter in Reflection of a Newsosaur reports on an eMarketer report that newspaper ad revenues could be three times more than they should be, given the amount of time people spend reading printed news versus reading online content.

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Charlie Sheen To Join HP Board, Follows Appointment Of Will.i.am At Intel

Hewlett-Packard [HPQ] will announce that Charlie Sheen has joined its board of directors as part of a growing trend by Silicon Valley tech giants to harness the power of celebrity.

The announcement could come as soon as Monday allowing HP to avoid April Fool's Day and risk confusing investors and Wall Street analysts.

Intel recently appointed popular music artist Will.i.am from the Black Eyed Peas as its Director of Creative Innovation. His duties include coming up with a replacement for the well known Intel jingle
Hewlett-Packard is struggling to reorganize following turmoil in its senior leadership. Mark Hurd, the former CEO, was pushed out because of allegations of a sex scandal and questions about his personal judgement.

Hewlett-Packard now has a new CEO and has been expanding its board of directors to include a more diverse set of advisors. But some have criticized HP's appointments.

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Silicon Valley's Computer History Museum Launches Online "Revolution"

The Computer History Museum this morning launched "Revolution" an online exhibit featuring images, video, and stories chronicling the development of key computer technologies.

More than 4500 pages are avialable online on a diverse number of topics, from punched cards to the first computer games, such as the "Naughts-and-Crosses machine" (above).

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Support Good Journalism And 'Pay The Wall'

I don't understand the current debate over the New York Times paywall. Yes, it has holes in it and yes it is a bit lame but the question it asks is: will you support quality journalism?

That's an important question.

But it seems that the Geekorati believe that once something is free then it should be free forever, and that if you can get past the New York Times paywall, then you are smart.

I disagree and here's why:

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Here's How Google Avoids Paying Taxes...

There's a fascinating article by Lisa O'Carroll in the UK Guardian newspaper about corporate taxes and how Google [GOOG] uses Bermuda and Dublin, Ireland to shelter taxes.

Here's how it works:

- Google's HQ is in Dublin, which has the lowest corporate tax rate of 12.5%.
- Google, however, wants an ever lower rate so it charges its European business a massive administrative fee by its Bermuda subsidiary.

And that's how a profit of 5.5 billion Euros turns into just 45 million Euros that is taxable in Dublin.

Lisa O'Carroll explains:

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How Yuri Milner Made Billions In The New Bubble

Craig Mellow, at The Deal Magazine has a fascinating profile of Yuri Milner, the Russian investment banker who runs Digital Sky Technologies, a multi-billion dollar fund. Close connections (The Deal Magazine)

Mr Milner has garnered tremendous amounts of publicity for his investments in Facebook, Groupon and other high flying US companies.

These companies aren't public but their shares can be traded on private markets but only by individual investors and employees in the company, and prequalified private investors with a high net worth. These secondary markets have become larger over the past few years because there has been little demand for IPOs and they provide a capital exit for some shareholders.

At the time of Mr Milner's investments in Facebook, there was a lot of sniggering about the high valuation he was prepared to pay and his willingness to do it on lax terms. It was seen as a naive investment decision by an outsider.

But take a look at this extract from the article, it shows how Mr Milner managed to parlay his growing media profile into making markets, then shifting his investments. Seems like a classic "pump and dump" strategy.

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Study Shows How Social Media Amplifies Mass Media

Social media is touted by many as a way to get around the gatekeepers of media, the traditional old order of mass media setting the agenda for society has been tipped onto its head.

Not really.

A study from Yahoo! Research "Who Says What to Whom on Twitter | Yahoo! Research" found this:

We find a striking concentration of attention on Twitter—roughly 50% of tweets consumed are generated by just 20K elite users—where the media produces the most information, but celebrities are the most followed.

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Twitter Brings Back Jack To Fix Product Strategy

Twitter's seesaw problems with product development entered a new phase this morning as the company brought back former CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey.

He will take over product development from co-founder Ev Williams, as Executive Chairman, but also run his own startup, Square.

The move makes sense. Ev Williams involvement in Twitter has been questioned by myself and others. He spends little time at the office and his use of Twitter is extremely low, Tweeting just twice a day and sometimes none at all. Co-founder Biz Stone is even less interested in Tweeting.

Take a look at my recent survey of the activity of Twitter co-founders:

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Color: A quick review...

It's a shame that the $41m funding of Color Labs has dominated the news about Color, a radically different type of mobile app, because that's what's interesting.

Color shares photos with everyone around you that has the app on their iPhone or Android device. There are no privacy settings and you don't need to "friend" or "follow" anyone -- it automatically creates an ad hoc social network within 50 yards of your location.

How will people use it?

Color Labs doesn't know -- it did no user studies, no focus groups, beyond letting 30 staff and family members use it. Which is very bold.

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Danish Startup Podio Makes A Splashy Entrance

Danish startup Podio made a splashy entrance this week into the US market and I'm not referring to the torrential rains soaking San Francisco.

In a week dominated by the news of the launch of $41m startup Color Labs, it was an impressive feat. Podio, which offers apps for small businesses launched an App store and opened a pop-up store in San Francisco-- and managed to attract many of the top digerati of San Francisco.

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Is Curation A Flash In The Pan?

It's clear that the interest of Internet users can be very fickle indeed. Sites and services can have sudden boosts of popularity and then pretty much disappear from view.

I'm thinking of Quora as one example. But also Digg, MySpace and many others...

And whenever there is a burst of hype around a topic it seems to be a precursor to a shortened life span.

Curation has recently emerged as a hot topic so does that mean it's days are numbered?

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Color: A $41m Bet On A Radical Social Mobile App

Last week I was in Palo Alto, drenched by torrential rains but happy to catchup with serial entrepreneur Bill Nguyen and hear about his remarkable new startup Color, which today launched its iPhone and Android based mobile app.

Color has raised $41 million from a stellar group of investors. This is a huge amount of capital for a seed/Series A round and it shows how much confidence there is in Mr Nguyen and his team.

But this is no ordinary startup. Mr Nguyen is a serial entrepreneur, his most recent venture was LaLa, the cloud-based music service that he sold to Apple for about $80 million.

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Kevin Covert: Preparing For A Silicon Valley M&A Boom In New Media

Investment banker Kevin Covert is increasing staff at his company, Covert & Co, up to prepare for an M&A bonanza in Silicon Valley. He says that the conditions are great for M&A especially in new media.

Mr Covert lives in southern California but he is no stranger to Silicon Valley, having been very active here, founding investment bank Montgomery & Co in 1999, in the middle of the dotcom boom.

Over the past ten years he's had a hand in many large deals such as selling MySpace to News Corp, plus also raising money for many companies, such as Meebo.

Here are some notes from our meeting:

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Techcrunch Attack On SF City Government - Should SF's Tech Stars Avoid Local Taxes?

Mike Arrington at Techcrunch, has attacked San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos for insisting that tech superstar companies such as Twitter pay the city's 1.5% payroll tax.

Mr Arrington resorted to name calling in his post: San Francisco Doing Everything It Can To Drive Zynga And Twitter Away.

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Bill Davidow On The Dangers Of An Over-Connected Society

I recently interviewed Bill Davidow, the veteran Silicon Valley VC and co-founder of Mohr Davidow Ventures, about his recently published book: OVERCONNECTED: The Promise and Threat of the Internet.

The premise is that our modern society faces new perils because our computer technologies and the communications technologies of the Internet accelerate flaws in our systems. For example, the recent financial crash that was sparked by the mortgage crisis, was made easier by computers and the Internet.

Mr Davidow borrows from his engineering background the concept of "positive feedback". This describes systems that can feed on each other to grow out of control. It is these positive feedback loops that put us in peril, and as our use of computer and Internet technologies increases at a fast pace, this increases our vulnerability to unpleasant effects such as economic crises.

Here are some notes from our conversation:

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Silicon Valley Veteran VC Bill Davidow Says "No Bubble"

I just finished an interview with Bill Davidow on the subject of his new book "Overconnected: The Promise and Threat of the Internet." I'll post the interview later.

I took the opportunity of asking Mr Davidow about the state of Silicon Valley and questions such as "are we in a bubble?"

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Muckraking: A Disappearing Form Of Journalism?

The term muckraker has some negative connotations today but it used to be a noble term applied to a form of journalism that railed against injustice, corruption and the excesses of the high and mighty.

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New Media Business Models: How To Make $2K On $5m In Revenues

Business Insider, the popular news site founded by former Wall Street analyst Henry Blodget, this week revealed its 2010 finances.

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Wow. Twitter's Response To Bad Press: Unfollow

Sean Garrett, Twitter's chief of communications (see picture demonstrating his media relations skills on me during happier times) has unfollowed me on Twitter. This was his only response to a series of posts here on SVW critical of Twitter and its support for corporate social responsibility yet following tactics described as "corporate blackmail" in pushing for huge cuts in local San Francisco taxes. That's a lame response to an important local story. I'm sure Mr Garrett has unfollowed others who have been critical of Twitter. What a great response to dealing with unpleasant news -- stick your head in the sand. If you can't see it it doesn't exist.

UPDATED: Sean Garrett is back following me, he tweeted: "Our long national nightmare is over. I'm following @tomforemski again. Http//bit.ly/f5rOgS."

:)

Corporate Social Responsibility In Action - Twitter Might Not Be Satisfied With SF Tax Break - SVW

Corporate Blackmail? - San Francisco Offers Tax Break To Twitter - SVW

Proposed Tax Cuts For Twitter Raise Questions Of "Corporate Blackmail," Worker Safety : News: SFAppeal

Twitter Touts "Social Responsibility" But Threatens To Leave SF Over Local Taxes - SVW

Editorial: No tax breaks for Twitter | San Francisco Bay Guardian


Analysis: Coming To A Web Site Near You - Apple's iPay Future...

There has been much written lately about Apple's rules for apps, that they must provide an in-app purchase function.

For example, Jason Kincaid wrote: Why Are You People Defending Apple?, MG Siegler wrote: Apple's Big Subscription Bet: Brilliant, Brazen, Or Batsh*t Crazy? and Frédéric Filloux wrote Apple's bet on publishing | Monday Note - among many posts on the subject.

Much of the focus on Apple's move has been on the 30 per cent cut it takes on purchases made through its online stores. That's a big chunk for providing a payment service, and for many companies, such as media organizations that re trying to transition their business models to a digital economy -- it's probably too much to pay.

And that's what the posts about Apple focus on -- the 30 per cent cut.

But that's a red herring.

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Analysis: AOL And HuffPo - Media's Race To The Bottom?

Dan Lyons over at The Daily Beast nails it in his look at the AOL acquisition of The Huffington Post for $315 million.

The big problem that everyone in online media faces is that advertising rates keep falling. ...

One response to that has been to say that if each page is worth less, then we must have more pages. Thus we now have "content farms" like Demand Media which flood the Web with low-cost, low-quality content that is basically spam. But this drives advertising rates down even further.

Last summer when I did my article about Huffington Post for Newsweek, I estimated that they had about 25 million monthly readers and would generate about $30 million in revenues in 2010. That meant they were getting a mere $1 dollar per reader per year!

Compare that to the world of cable TV or print newspapers and magazines which collect hundreds of dollars each year from each subscriber, and then generate hundreds of millions in ad revenue on top of that--and you see the difficulty of the business that AOL and Huffington Post and all the rest of us are in.

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Top PayPal Alumni: "Silicon Valley Lacks Radical Innovation"



It was a sold out event: Peter Thiel and Max Levchin at the Inforum Club SF - the club for under 36 year old members of the Commonwealth Club.

Mr Thiel and Mr Levchin are two prominent members of what some call the "PayPal Mafia." This is a large number of unbelievably successful entrepreneurs; the Paypal alumni have gone on to help found an extraordinary number of successful startups.

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IBM And Silicon Valley...

(IBM's Silicon Valley Lab - photo by Andrew Nordley.)

As IBM celebrates its centennial this year it is interesting to look at its association with the Silicon Valley area. Although IBM is considered an East Coast computer company it has a long history with this region, long before there was a Silicon Valley.

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IBM 100 Years: From Cheese Slicers To Supercomputers

SamPalmisano.jpg

Earlier today, IBM CEO Sam Palmisano kicked off the company's celebration of 100 years in business with a speech to students at his alma mater, John Hopkins University.

He spoke about how IBM started,"Making clocks, scales and cheese slicers, in addition to the punched card tabulator. After that, it's a blur: typewriters, vacuum tube calculators, magnetic tape, the first disk drive, the memory chip, FORTRAN, fractals, ATMs, mainframes, mini-computers, personal computers, supercomputers, services, software, analytics..."

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MIT MBAs Take 9 Lessons Home From Silicon Valley Tour

By Anagha Ramanujam

One hundred and nine students pursuing the Entrepreneurship and Innovation program at the MIT Sloan School of Management began their New Year in the Silicon Valley on the school's annual, Silicon Valley Study Tour.

The school firmly believes that business innovation must drive the economy in the next decade.

The visit, led by the MIT Entrepreneurship Centre Managing Director Bill Aulet, was designed to expose students with entrepreneurial aspirations to the Silicon Valley ecosystem. The tour enabled students to develop personal connections with the entrepreneurs, venture capital firms and CEOs in one of the most successful startup hubs of the country.

Over a span of three days, we visited more than 70 startups in the valley.

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Did US Companies Help Egypt Internet Crackdown?

Free Press, the non-partisan lobbying organization, reports that US companies are involved in providing technology that helps the Egyptian government monitor protestors on the Internet and mobile phones.

Free Press issued a statement that claims:

Boeing-owned, California-based company Narus sold Telecom Egypt, the state-run Internet service provider, "real-time traffic intelligence" equipment, more commonly known as Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) technology. DPI is content-filtering technology that allows network managers to inspect, track and target content from Internet users and mobile phones as it passes through routers on the Web.

...

Narus Vice President of Marketing Steve Bannerman said to Wired in 2006: "Anything that comes through (an internet protocol network), we can record. We can reconstruct all of their e-mails along with attachments, see what web pages they clicked on, we can reconstruct their [voice over internet protocol] calls."

Free Press is calling on Congress to take action on DPI.

The harm to democracy and the power to control the Internet are so disturbing that the threshold for the global trafficking in DPI must be set very high. That's why, before DPI becomes more widely used around the world and at home, Congress must establish legitimate standards for preventing the use of such control and surveillance technologies as means to violate human rights.

Congress would be opening a Pandora's Box in terms of looking at the US companies that provide equipment to foreign governments that could be used against protestors. Some of the largest US tech companies are suppliers to governments in China, Iran, Burma and other countries that have been accused of human rights violations.

But where do you draw the line? DPI has many uses, and not all of them are nefarious. It would be near impossible to control the export of network hardware and software based on its possible use by foreign governments.

However, a public shaming of US companies might have an impact and it would certainly be faster than waiting for Congress to act.

You can support Free Press and its call on Congress to investigate the use and sale of DPI technology by American companies by signing your name here.


Analysis: Here's Why Demand Media Valuation Is Greater Than NYTimes...

CNNMoney reported:

Shares of online content creator Demand Media closed 33% higher Wednesday, following an IPO that valued Demand at more than $1 billion.

...That gives Demand a valuation of $1.5 billion -- more than the New York Times Co (NYT), though less than other media stalwarts like Gannett Co. and Washington Post Co.

That's also the highest market capitalization for an Internet company since Google's IPO in 2004, according to research firm Renaissance Capital.


While its valuation might seem surprisingly high compared with the New York Times, it's investors clearly believe it has a brighter future than the Gray Lady. And here's why it deserves it:

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Edelman Survey: Trust In Peers Falls...Trust In Experts Soars

The core of corporate social media practice is that customers trust their peers and thus if you enable them to tweet or write blog posts about your products or services, it will help boost sales.

In 2006 the Edelman Trust Barometer found that peers were the most highly trusted group. Richard Edelman, the head of Edelman, the largest privately held PR group, dubbed it the Me2Revolution.

But trust in peers has fallen considerably. From 68% in 2006 to 47% - a further decline of 4 percentage points in the past year.

Story continues...


Some Early Invites For Genieo - The Mac Version

I've been trying out the Mac version of Genieo - a cool app that helps you deal with the media tsunami out there and identify the news content that is relevant to you without any overt training.

Sol Tzvi, the co-founder of Genieo, has sent me some early invites for SVW readers. The first 200 people clicking on this link will have early access before the launch later this month.

http://www.genieo.com/mac/siliconvalleywatcher/?campaign=macSvw

Women In Tech: Sol Tzvi On Starting A Startup... - SVW

Genieo + My6Sense: The Media Tsunami And The Need For Self Organizing Filters... - SVW


Analysis: No Change At Google - Here's Why...

The departure of Eric Schmidt as CEO of Google has led to a lot of speculation about changes at the company as Larry Page moves back into that job in April.

But there will be no changes because there is essentially no change in the management of Google.

People forget that Mr Schmidt held the title of CEO in name only. The decision making was shared between the founders: Larry Page and Sergey Brin; and Mr Schmidt in what they termed a "triumvirate."

Here it is explained in extracts from Larry Page's 2004 Founders' IPO Letter:

Eric has the legal responsibilities of the CEO...

...

We run Google as a triumvirate. Sergey and I have worked closely together for the last eight years, five at Google. Eric, our CEO, joined Google three years ago. The three of us run the company collaboratively with Sergey and me as Presidents.

...

We hired Eric as a more experienced complement to Sergey and me to help us run the business.


Mr Schmidt always held the minority vote against Messrs Page and Brin. And there is nothing to suggest that they have dissolved their management structure beyond removing Mr Schmidt.

Mr Page gets to hold the CEO title for legal reasons but the power sharing with Mr Brin is still there. Both founders will continue to make the key decisions.

Why would we expect anything to change at Google if there is no new management?

The only thing that's changed is that the founders have regained some of their lost dignity. Mr Schmidt was brought in as CEO to provide the founders with "adult supervision" as he termed it. Google's chief investors believed that the coming IPO would do better if a veteran Silicon Valley executive was seen to be at the helm.

Continuing to have "adult supervision" ten years later when you are nearly 38 years old must be embarrassing for the founders. Especially since wonder kid Mark Zuckerberg has been doing great without having any official adult supervision. He's tripled the value of Facebook in less than a year and he's just 26.

This is the real reason Mr Schmidt was shifted, imho. And it's all plain to see in Mr Schmidt's tweeted announcement:

"Day-to-day adult supervision no longer needed!"


New Series: Writing Tips - 25 Years From FT to SVW...

The other day I was invited by the San Francisco Blog Club to speak on the topic of writing tips. My talk was titled "From The Financial Times to Silicon Valley Watcher- 25 years of writing tips."

I've worked in traditional media and in the "new media" so I've accumulated a few observations that have helped me in my work.

I came up with about 25 tips. It was a great turnout and I received some excellent feedback. It was interesting to see how people picked out different tips as being important to them.

I was also asked to write them down, so here is the first installment in a regular series that will appear on Fridays. I hope you'll find some of these tips interesting and useful. And please share your tips too!

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GOOG Founders End 'Adult Supervision' As Schmidt Announces Exit

It's taken Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin many years to end their "adult supervision" in the form of Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who leaves in April.

Mr Page will become CEO and Mr Schmidt becomes Executive Chairman.

Mr Schmidt Tweeted:

Day-to-day adult supervision no longer needed! http://goo.gl/zC89p.

Mr Schmidt was brought in as CEO in August of 2001 because of pressure from Kleiner Perkins, one of Google's chief investors. His goal was to provide "adult supervision" to the young founders as Google was preparing for an IPO.

The VCs believed the IPO would be more successful if investors saw that Google was headed by a veteran Silicon Valley executive. The company created a "triumvirate" where the founders and Mr Schmidt shared responsibility for executive decisions.

Many years later, Google still maintained its "adult supervision" which must have rankled the founders, now nearing 38 years old. The situation must have become especially galling in recent months since Mark Zuckerberg, the 26 year old founder of Facebook is also CEO. He has managed to more than triple the value of Facebook in less than a year--without the need for any adult supervision.

One year ago I asked: Nine years later does Google still need 'adult supervision?' | ZDNet

The Google triumvirate has worked reasonably smoothly but there have been large differences of opinion between the founders and Mr Schmidt, especially over China. Mr Brin was in opposition to Google's entry into China and he advocated an end to its China operations, against Mr Schmidt's position that Google should overlook China's human rights record.

Mr Schmidt has served as a useful "lightning rod" at Google and he has consistently distracted the media from paying much attention to the founders. Sometimes Mr Schmidt's less carefully considered remarks have gotten him into trouble.

His unusual leadership style has attracted a number of critics. For example, Elizabeth Corcoran, senior editor at Forbes, once asked "Who's Really Running Google? - Forbes.com

...as charming as he is, Schmidt runs Google about as much as much as the Dalai Lama runs the world's spiritual life.

...he has defined his job not so much as leading Google but as running interference for it--placating the investment community, soothing nervous regulators and policymakers and doing whatever it takes to create a magical force field protecting Googleteers...

He hasn't had much success at "running interference" with Wall Street and policy makers.

- Google is facing increasing scrutiny from the US administration over possible anti-trust business practices. That’s despite Mr Schmidt’s very public support for President Obama.

- Google has run into big problems internationally with its books scanning project and with European anti-trust authorities.

- Its relationship with Microsoft is very bad, because Google actively opposed Microsoft's acquisition of Yahoo and other deals.

- Mr Schmidt has managed to upset newspaper companies both in the US and internationally. He has failed portray Google as an ally rather than as an adversary.

- Google’s relationship with Apple soured badly, especially after Google introduced its Nexus phone, and then dropped it. Mr Schmidt was forced to resign from Apple’s board.

- Mr Schmidt admitted that he persuaded the Google board to pay $1 billion more than YouTube was worth. Critics said that was to reward VCs who were investors in both Google and YouTube at the cost of GOOG's shareholders. Google is still trying to figure out how make YouTube profitable.

- Google has failed to diversify its business away from search and online advertising despite many acquisitions.

Mr Page will now have to step out of the shadows and assume a much more vocal and public role. That will be a challenge for a shy software engineer who is much happier working on engineering problems than schmoozing Wall Street analysts and building media partnerships with other companies.


Story continues...


Are European Startups Lazy?

The UK newspaper the Daily Telegraph is running a series of articles about startups and has commissioned several columns. Wendy Tan White is the founder and CMO of Moonfruit, a successful UK based startup that offers hosted websites. She wrote a column answering the question "Are European startups lazy?"

Certainly, we don't have a homegrown Google or Apple - yet - but European start-ups are definitely not lazy, as some people seem to think and as TechCrunch's Mike Arrington once said. In fact, there's a whole generation of hungry and talented entrepreneurs building amazing companies.

So what's the problem? Why don't we have as many successful companies we can point to?

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Analysis: Facebook Gains Friends With Benefits From Foreign Investors

Reuters reported that Goldman Sachs will only allow non-US investors to take part in a private placement of Facebook shares because of "intense media coverage" in the US.

Felix Salmon explains why in his column: Analysis & Opinion |

Because of the media coverage Goldman could be accused of "front running their own private market" to evade securities laws.

One question is did Goldman mismanage the deal or is it part of a plan to make sure Facebook gets a large foreign shareholder base?

Story continues...


Coming Up: 25 Years Of Writing Tips...

I'm looking forward to speaking at the San Francisco Blog Club meetup this Wednesday evening in San Francisco.

The Title is: "From The Financial Times to Silicon Valley Watcher- 25 years of writing tips."

I hope to have 25 tips by Wednesday. Hopefully you can make it, there will be free drinks and some great networking.


Saturday Post: The Evolution Of Homo Extrovert

When our distant ancestors discovered cooking it spurred an evolutionary step forward. Our brains grew larger and our stomachs shrank, and we were better able to walk upright.

Cooking food made a big impact because eating raw food is hard work. If you look at other primates they spend much of their life eating.

In 2008 scientists in the UK tried an experiment with humans, putting them in a zoo and feeding them as much raw food as they wanted: berries, fruits, vegetables, etc. To fulfill their daily energy requirements required eating more than 10 pounds of raw fruits and vegetables -- it was taking them most of their day to get through chewing this much food and most were unable to finish their daily ration.

By the end of the two week experiment it was clear that raw foods alone cannot fuel a modern human. All the test subjects lost lots of weight and they couldn't finish all of their food even though they would eat well into the night... some would have likely died if they had stayed on this diet.

Story continues...


China, Russia, South Africa - And The Facebook Connection

By Matthew Buckland at Memeburn

There is something going on in China, Russia and South Africa. Via various internet investments and creations, these three countries combined have built up major stakes in some of the world's biggest sites and social networks.

Russian investment company, Digital Sky Technologies (DST), now owns about 7-10% of Facebook by various estimates, putting the company among Facebook's biggest owners. Via its sister company Mail.ru, another 2.4% of Facebook is held. Recently, according to the New York Times, DST ploughed a further $50-million into Facebook.

DST also owns about five percent of the popular social gaming company Zynga and another five percent of the prominent shopping-coupon company Groupon. The company is now apparently eyeing a piece of Twitter, but then again who isn't?

The Mail.ru Group, which has grown into the biggest Internet company in the Russian-speaking world, owns 100% of Russian social networking site Odnoklassniki, and has a significant stake in the country's other major networking site, Vkontakte. DST also owns the early-web era instant messaging service ICQ, an interesting investment because the service is somewhat of a fading star.

The Chinese and South African connection

Story continues...


Is Curation The Answer To Search Spam?

Much has been written lately about the lower quality of Google's search results. A poll by Lifehacker found that 77% agreed that Google search results had "become less useful to you lately."

If search is becoming less useful then how will we navigate the web?

The answer is by curation, by using the recommendations of others acting as curators.

Paul Kedrosky writing on Infectious Greed:

... the re-rise of curation is partly about crowd curation -- not one people, but lots of people, whether consciously (lists, etc.) or unconsciously (tweets, etc) -- and partly about hand curation (JetSetter, etc.). We are going to increasingly see nichey services that sell curation as a primary feature, with the primary advantage of being mostly unsullied by content farms, SEO spam, and nonsensical Q&A sites intended to create low-rent versions of Borges' Library of Babylon. The result will be a subset of curated sites that will re-seed a new generation of algorithmic search sites, and the cycle will continue, over and over.

Story continues...


"Silicon Valley" Turns 40 - Do We Need it?

David Laws writes at the Examiner:

January 11, 2011 marks the 40th anniversary of the first appearance of the name Silicon Valley in print.

Under the headline SILICON VALLEY USA, journalist Don C. Hoefler wrote the first of a three-part series on the history of the semiconductor industry in the Bay Area. His behind the "scenes report of the men, money, and litigation which spawned" the industry appeared on page one of the industry tabloid Electronic News on Monday January 11, 1971.

He points out that there is anecdotal evidence of the use of the name "Silicon Valley" prior to this date but that, "Author Michael S. Malone suggests that Hoefler's pioneering coverage of the Silicon Valley community as a collection of characters, dreamers, and eccentrics made him "the one that put the whole idea in our minds".

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MediaWatch: FT Launches Tilt...

The Financial Times today launched "FT Tilt" a subscription based site focused on emerging markets.

Paul Murphy, editor-in-chief of FT Tilt explained the name of the new site:

Recent years have seen economic power shift—or tilt—south and east. This trend is accelerating rather than diminishing and we see strong demand from our core professional readers for increasingly granular news and insight in markets beyond the developed G3 economies.

The goal is to leverage the FT's global network of journalists and combine contributions from a community of financial professionals to publish their research and analysis.

Felix Salmon, over at Reuters does a good job in listing all the challenges:

Tilt is built to allow clients to republish their own work and to talk to each other and comment on stories. But because Tilt isn’t available on Reuters or Bloomberg machines, traders aren’t going to see its stories effortlessly shuffled in to their main feed of news and analysis...

...they want to change the way those professionals consume media on a day in and day out basis—adding an extra site where those professionals feel they must spend valuable time.

...Murphy is asking his overstretched journalists (just one person for all of Latin America, for instance) to tell financial professionals something they don’t already know: that’s a tall order.

Overall, Mr Felix says that "Tilt" shows that the FT is retreating to a newsletter model and that this is "a sad and narrow fate for what should be a proud and global newspaper.”


Curation - The Third Web Frontier

Here is a guest article by Partice Lamothe - CEO of Pearltrees (Pearltrees is a consulting client of SVW.) This is a lightly edited version of "La troisième frontière du Web" that appeared in the magazine OWNI - Digital Journalism - March 2010. The article argues that the founding pricinciples of the Internet are only now being implemented and that the next frontier is in organizing, or curating, the Internet.

By Patrice Lamothe
patricelamothe.jpg
Everyone realizes that the web is entering a new phase in its development.

One indication of this transition is the proliferation of attempts to explain the changes that are occurring. Functional explanations emphasize the real time web, collaborative systems and location-based services. Technical explanations argue that the interconnectivity of data is the most significant current development. They consider the web's new frontiers to be closely related to the semantic web or the "web of things".

Although these explanations are both pertinent and intriguing, none of them offers an analytical matrix for assessing the developments that are now underway. Some ideas are too specific.

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2011: Facebook Valuation Shows Conditions For IPOs Are Ripe

The high valuation of Facebook on secondary share markets might be out of line with its revenues but it does show one thing: a large investor appetite for investing in leading Silicon Valley companies.

The fact that the investors are making large bets without having access to the underlying financial information is similar to the wild days of the dotcom boom, when companies were able to IPO on the basis of very little proven financial information. Investors were happy to pay high multiples for a stake in a business that might have a bright future.

The comparison between now and the dotcom boom has been noticed by others.

Story continues...


VC Interview: Bob Ackerman Warns On Secondary Market Excess

I spoke with Bob Ackerman, managing director of Allegis Capital and a veteran Silicon Valley venture capitalist about some of the trends and issues in VC. He spoke about his concerns about the secondary market, and that innovation in the US is being constrained by bad regulations, taxation and poor education.

Here are some notes from our conversation:

Story continues...


Curation Becomes Social: Pearltrees Launches 'Team' Version

[For much of this year I have been working with Pearltrees, which offers a visual web site curation service based on the visual metaphor of 'pearls' please see below for an example.]

Pearltrees this week launched a "Team" version of its curation service that allows groups of people to collaborate on curating a topic. Up until now each Pearltree was the responsibility of one person.

Alexia Tsotsis at Techcrunch reported:

Ideally this goes down as such: You really care about fashion so you search for fashion in the Pearltrees search box and are confronted with really elaborate visual cluster displays of fashion blogs, each blog its own “pearl.” You decide that anyone who likes The Sartorialist is probably a good egg and click on the puzzle piece in the Pearltrees detail window in order to ask if you can join the team.

If the team leader accepts, you then can see all the Pearltree curation happening as it happens as well as comment on individual Pearltree decisions. You can also share your team curation easily via Facebook and Twitter.

Pearltrees is part of a growing number of companies that offer curation services. Others include Storify, Curated.by, and more are coming on the market in 2011. Pearltrees distinguishes itself from the others in that anything that is on the Web can be curated. Other services are limited in what you can curate, such as curating just Tweets.

In addition, pre-fetching of web site content means that it is possible to browse a Pearltree faster than surfing from site to site.

At the Le Web conference in Paris this week, Pearltrees will demonstrate a version that uses a touch interface.

Foremski's Take: Curation will become one of the most important topics in 2011 because there is a limit to what algorithms and software can do in terms of helping to organize and navigate the Internet. I like to define curation as the human layer on top of the machine/algorithmic layer.

Techmeme, the news aggregator, is a good example in that it uses an algorithm to collect links to breaking news stories but also has 6 people reviewing and choosing the links that it publishes.

Pearltrees' team capability extends the usefulness of the service in that groups of people can collaborate on building more comprehensive collections of web sites.

I've been talking with PR firms about using Pearltrees to create a press kit consisting of links to an announcement; links to background information; links to video and audio materials; links to images, etc.

A reporter, for example, could grab that media kit Pearltree and use it in preparing a report. The dynamic nature of Pearltrees and its real-time capabilities means that if there is an error in the press kit, or if there is new information and it needs to be updated, the new information is automatically propagated in real-time to everyone that has the press kit Pearltree.

Over the next few weeks I will be launching some team Pearltrees and looking for help in curating various topics related to Silicon Valley. Here is the first one: a Pearltree for Silicon Valley PR firms (below).

If you would like to be part of this team just create a free account and send me a join request and I will add you to my team. Or create Pearltree for you PR firm and I will add it to this one.

Silicon Valley Tech PR Agencies
- - -

Please see:

Curation And The Human Web...

Aggregation Is Not Curation - There Is A Big Difference


Analysis: Google Buying Groupon Doesn't Make Sense...

UPDATED: Faith Merino at VatorNews reported Monday that Google has purchased Groupon for $2.5 billion: "

... according to an unnamed insider who spoke with VatorNews. Neither Google nor Groupon could be reached for comment to confirm the report, but Vator's source is reliable and the report falls in line with the recent string of Groupon acquisition rumors.

Tuesday Kara Swisher at All Things D reported that her sources said that Google will pay $5.3 billion plus a $700 million earnout if Groupon meets sales targets.

... it is a killer move for Google-despite the high price-given it has long tried to enter the local advertising space, with decidedly mixed results.

The New York Times reported that its sources said Google will pay $6 billion for Groupon.

Google made an initial bid of $3 billion to $4 billion, these people said. But in the face of Groupon's resistance, Google raised its offer to $5 billion to $6 billion. The company is unlikely to offer more than that, according to one of the people with knowledge of the situation.

Foremski's Take:

The deal doesn't make sense for Google. Groupon relies on a large number of people to make the sales for Groupon to work.

Google is a business that relies on machines and algorithms -- not on managing large numbers of sales people.

Caroline McCarthy at CNet News makes a similar point:

Groupon's "secret sauce" is not its technology ... but its massive sales force and how that sales force is organized. It's not Google's usual cup of tea, but it's one of Google's own weak spots.

But she writes that Google needs to move beyond engineers and beef up its direct sales force. She quotes David Ambrose, co-founder of Scoop St, a Groupon clone, that Google might pay more than $2.5 billion because "Google has never really been able to do direct sales well at all."

I don't believe that Google can buy a direct sales force capability. If it does, that effort will fail. Google's culture is engineering based and the sales force will never have the clout of engineering.

Just because it makes sense to have a strong direct sales force doesn't mean that it makes sense for a company to acquire one. Company culture always trumps logic and reason. And company culture is the least agile part of any organization.

And Google's engineering culture is deeply wired. For example, Google has been encouraged by vocal observers to buy a newspaper, such as the New York Times. But again, something like that would never happen because Google doesn't want to manage editors, journalists, foreign news bureaus, etc. It knows how to manage servers and software.

At the bottom of every Google news page you see the following:

"The selection and placement of stories on this page were determined automatically by a computer program."

Placement was not determined by a person but by an algorithm.

Algorithms and machines are a far more scalable and profitable business than a people based business such as a newspaper, or Groupon.

In addition, the higher costs of doing business with a large sales force will lower Google's profitability and that will affect its stock price. In mid-morning trading Tuesday Google [GOOG] was down 4% or $23.45 to $558.66 in reaction to the news.




IPOs: Mary Meeker's Move To VC - And The Lack Of Wall Street Analysts

Mary Meeker, one of the top Wall Street analysts, has moved to Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers from Morgan Stanley.

Sarah Lacy reports:

Chegg's CEO Dan Rosensweig was one of many pinging Meeker with congratulatory notes this morning during my call with Meeker, Doerr and fellow KP partner Ted Schlein. He described it as "huge news" and a "big coup" for Kleiner.

"Mary's ability to spot the most important trends, evaluate-and-back the most effective entrepreneurs, predict the major pivots in the industry, and do it on a global basis has been unparalleled," he told TechCrunch via email.

While this is likely a lucrative move for Ms Meeker this is not good news for the return of the IPO market. The valuable role that Ms Meeker played in her "ability to spot the most important trends, evaluate-and-back the most effective entrepreneurs, predict the major pivots in the industry, and do it on a global basis" used to benefit the investors in public companies.

Now that benefit will go to a select group of elite investors in private companies.

However, if the IPO market is to return, and in turn, help fuel reinvestment in Silicon Valley startups by VCs such as Kleiner, Wall Street needs more Mary Meekers -- not fewer. One of the biggest problems public companies have is in having enough analysts following them and writing insightful investment reports.

Even large public companies such as Intel have problems in attracting enough analysts that understand their business. Newly public companies face an uphill battle in attracting analysts that know them and their markets. With the carnage among Wall Street analysts following the financial meltdown two years ago, the need for good analysts is even more acute today.

Kleiner could be shooting itself in the foot. The firm needs people like Ms Meeker on Wall Street talking about its public or soon-to-be-public companies, and helping to create the markets for that stock.

It's superstar analysts such as Ms Meeker that create the trading markets for public companies.


Talent Wars: Salesforce Builds On Its Momentum With Rangaswami Hire

Salesforce.com has been on a tear this year with financial results exceeding Wall Street estimates; a massive expansion of its headquarters in San Francisco; a gift of $100 million to build a Children's hospital; and now: luring JP Rangaswami, Chief Scientist at UK Telecom giant BT to assume the same position at Salesforce.

Larry Dignan, writing at ZDNet, reports:

...Rangaswami will contribute to the company's product strategy and be an evangelist for cloud computing around the globe. Rangaswami will focus on European customers and preaching real-time collaboration.

...In a statement, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff said Rangaswami has "the rare talent of being able to see what the future should be, knowing what it takes to get there, and the enthusiasm to make it happen."

Mr Rangaswami's Telco background should be useful to Salesforce as it seeks to expand its business. Telcos around the world are moving into offering cloud-based IT applications and services to enterprises.

Softbank, the Japanese Telco, recently made a deal to offer Broadvision's cloud based Social Business suite to Asian corporations.

Giovanni Rodriguez, Chief Marketing Officer at Broadvision, said: "That's a very smart hire by Salesforce, it will help expand the "social" side of its business. JP is very good at starting trouble and getting people to talk about key concepts."

Mr Rangaswami is a well known blogger writing on confused of calcutta - a blog about information (and food).

He has also been spending considerable time in SIlicon Valley because he is on the board of Ribbit, an innovative web telephony Silicon Valley startup that BT acquired in mid 2008 for $105 million.

He has driven innovation within BT by opening up the BT communications platform to third-party developers. Last summer I visited BT's operations in London and met with key researchers.

(Please see: UK Diary: Tuesday - It Never Rains But It Pours . . . More BT Innovation - SVW)

Marc Benioff, the CEO and co-founder of Salesforce continues to do well in positioning the company on the commercial edge of the expanding wave of cloud computing growth and its acceptance by large enterprises.

He has built San Francisco's largest technology company.


Curation And The Human Web...

There is no doubt in my mind that the topic of curation and the Internet, is an important one and that it will be a dominant topic in 2011.

Curation is important because we are reaching the limits of what can be achieved through algorithms and machines in organizing and navigating the Internet.

Aggregation looks like curation but it's not. (Please see: Aggregation Is Not Curation - There Is A Big Difference - SVW)

I define curation as a person, or a group of people, engaged in choosing and presenting a collection of things related to a specific topic and context.

Aggregation employs software (algorithms) and machines (servers) to assemble a collection of things related to a specific topic and context.

Aggregation tools can be employed by curators but the human act of curation adds a layer of value that aggregation alone cannot provide.

A good example is Techmeme, the news aggregator run by Gabe Rivera.

Techmeme uses an algorithm to find and publish links to the most important tech news of the day.

For many years it was just Gabe and his algorithm. But now the site employs six people sifting through the results thrown up by Techmeme's algorithm and looking for news that machine aggregation alone cannot find. (Please see: Techmeme is six people now . . . - Techmeme News.)

Techmeme added people because it can produce a superior, curated product, than by machine aggregation alone.

Contrast Techmeme's curated approach with that of Google News' aggregation. At the bottom of each Google News page you will find this statement:

The selection and placement of stories on this page were determined automatically by a computer program.

And that's the reason Techmeme wins out over Google News because the quality of machine selected stories is not as good as that of a team of people curating the news together.

The human element is important but it's expensive, which is why Silicon Valley tech companies favor software and machines. Silicon Valley investors fund businesses that are scalable, that can be expanded by simply adding more servers and software.

People-based businesses are not scalable in the same way - you need to hire more people to do more. People add complexity, require management, vacations, and labor costs always trend up. In comparison, servers and software costs keep falling and their productivity increases.

The cheapest way to add a human layer is to improve machine aggregation by taking clues from what people do online, what they share, what they write, and what they discuss.

That's why tech companies talk about the "social web" and social graphs. These are ways of improving their technologies without having to employ people.

A good example is Flipboard, the popular iPad application. It searches for content by looking at what a person's Facebook friends and Twitter followers are sharing, and then publishing the content in an easy to browse magazine format.

However, such approaches reach a natural limit. Social networks share a wide variety of different content. Variety is ambiguous but curation needs to be focused.

Also, the technology of aggregation constantly trends towards becoming a commodity. It becomes a baseline rather than a differentiating factor. The value-add becomes the human layer.

And there are additional challenges to machine based aggregation: it becomes ever more easily gamed, as can be seen in the quality of Google search results and its unending battle with people seeking to manipulate the its results.

Google is forced to keep changing its algorithm in a bid to shakeout those that figured out how to game its system.

Techmeme, with its human curators, doesn't need to worry about others gaming its algorithm because commercial spam won't get published -- except by its sponsors.

The evolution of the algorithm and machine can be viewed as a way to use technology to distill the human essence. What is it about us that cannot be qualified and quantified within an algorithm?

I see curation as a one part of that human essence, a natural human activity that cannot be matched by technology. And curation is where the value lies in improving the organization and usefulness of the Internet.

- - -
Here is a Pearltree on "Curation."

Curation
(Please note: Pearltrees, a startup offering a visual and shareable curation service, is a client of my consulting services. If you'd like more information on Pearltrees, or SVW consulting services, please contact me: foremski (at) gmail.com.)


The Knight News Challenge: A Right-to-Respond Button Next To Every News Story...

The Knight News Challenge offers $5 million in funding to the best ideas that "use digital platforms to deliver news and information to geographically defined communities." It is now in its fifth year and the deadline is December 1. Here is my application, let me know what you think.

The goal of this project is to provide companies and individuals with the "Right to Respond" to an online news story no matter where it is published.

Having the right-to-respond to a news story should become a fundamental right to everyone on the Internet yet it is difficult to do because of the fragmented nature of the Internet, with news stories often appearing in many places on different sites, and the lack of commenting facilities.

- What if a company or individual is the victim of misinformation or allegations of one kind or another?

- What if a company wants to react to a story about a competitor?

- What if a politician wants to respond to a news story?

- What if a community wants to respond quickly to a news story?

- What if an individual is misquoted and wants redress?

Conventional means of response are poor and aren't very timely:

- Often, news stories don't have a comments section.

- Comments sections can be very busy meaning that any official response is lost in the crowd.

- News stories can be published in multiple places which means responding to each one is very time consuming.

The solution:

- The "Right to Respond" is a small green button that sits next to an online news story. If it is red it means that a "right to respond" has been registered.

- Clicking on the red "Right to Respond" button leads to a page where the response is posted.

- The response is right next to the news story and not buried in the comments section.

- It is real time, the response is immediate and occurs during the news cycle rather than days later.

- The "Right to Respond" content is hosted in a central location. This means the same reply can be sent to multiple sites at once.

- Corporations would pay the news publisher site for hosting the "Right to Respond" button. They would also choose on which sites they want to file a response.

- Individuals mentioned in the news story, without any company affiliation, would be able to post a reply for free.

It provides an additional revenue stream to publishers and it also conveys trust because legitimate news sites would want to host a "Right to Respond" button showing that they support fair and accurate reporting.

Any news sites deliberately publishing misinformation in order to earn money from "Right to Respond" would quickly lose audience and can be blocked by the companies paying for a response.

There can be several responses available for each news story that could be sold to different companies.

Mobile: It can be easily made available over mobile devices since there is very little space taken up by the "Right to Respond" button.

Communities: The activation of the "Right to Respond" button can be made location based so that it is activated in specific communities. Or specific communities could be offered access to use the "Right to Respond" button for free, encouraging greater communication.

You can view and respond to this proposal here.


Broadvision Relaunches Clearvale, Takes on Jive Directly...

Broadvision has relaunched its Clearvale social business platform; allied with Softbank, the Japanese telco; and has begun a marketing campaign that targets rival Jive Software.

Earlier this year, Broadvision reinvented itself as a social business platform that lets enterprises create multiple social business networks.

[Please see: Broadvision Reboots Its Business As A Collaborative Enterprise Platform - SVW]

The second generation Clearvale platform features new capabilities that allow businesses to use Clearvale as a platform for selling their services, called Clearvale Paasport, (for platform-as-a-service).

Giovanni Rodriguez, CMO at BroadVision, said, "The new capabilities of Clearvale will allow businesses to sell their services through the cloud. Softbank is one of our largest business partners and it plans to sell a lot of telco services using Clearvale Paasport. We believe that selling applications through the social layer will be a very successful business strategy for our customers."

Pehong Chen (pictured above), CEO of Broadvision, hopes to raise the company's profile in social business by targeting rival Jive Software in a series of ads, and a micro-site around the idea of "No Jive Talk."

Broadvision is part of an emerging group of companies that are targeting social business applications in the enterprise. As businesses around the world try to harness the powerful virality of social networks, Broadvision and others, are bring the tools and platforms to the enterprise. It is potentially one of the largest trends within enterprise software for this decade.


How The Cloud Will Bring The Future To The Global Masses

A simple wireless connection can bring the power of multiple supercomputers to a simple cell phone using cloud computing, the most powerful collection of technologies produced so far.

Yet the concept of cloud computing isn't well recognized even among some of our foremost technology leaders.

Take for example, Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google and Jared Cohen, Director of Google Ideas. They recently co-published a long article The Digital Disruption, in Foreign Affairs magazine, the flagship publication of the Council on Foreign Relations.

They also spoke at the organization's CEO Speaker series. Here is part of a report by Anne Nelson writing for PBS Mediashift:

"I'm extraordinarily excited about the scale of the mobile revolution," Schmidt said. "... There are four to five billion mobile phones of one kind or another and we are approaching a billion smart phones."

Schmidt added that the effect of Moore's Law will be to transform smart phones into the world's dominant communications platform in the near future.

The implications of the mobile revolution, he said, "are just beginning to be understood. But remember that these devices are more powerful than supercomputers were a few years ago, and we are putting them in the hands of people who've never had anything like it before."

In the article and the talk, Mr Schmidt focuses on the power of the smart phone, and that it has the capabilities of a supercomputer from a few years ago. That might be true of some smart phones, but not of the "four to five billion mobile phones of one kind or another" that are out there.

It's extraordinary that Mr Schmidt and Mr Cohen made no mention of cloud computing. Because with cloud computing, those four to five billion mobile phones can have the power of a supercomputer from today -- not from several years ago.

I recently spoke with Ram Menon, Executive VP of Worldwide Marketing at Tibco Software. He travels a lot in India, and other developing economies such as Brazil.

"It's incredible how many people can now afford a simple cell phone. And it's incredible what you can do with simple text messaging. Farmers can get real-time pricing information on their crops, and much more. There's even a whole grass roots industry around powering cell phones, such as ways to convert a bicycle into a cell phone charging station. In remote places where there is no electric power, people can still use their mobile phones."

With a simple text message system you can bring the power of a supercomputer to the cheapest and simplest mobile phones via cloud computing. For many important applications there is no need to place supercomputing power in the device itself.

Simple cell phones can act as smart phones today, thanks to the cloud. That's an amazing technological advance.

It's strange that Messers Schmidt and Cohen have failed to notice this technology, and what it can do -- especially since they work at Google, which operates the largest cloud computing platform.

- - -

There are more posts like this in my book: In My Humble Opinion


- - -

Please see the following Saturday Posts:

The Beatnik To Blogger Connection...

The West Coast Corridor: 1400 Miles Of Innovation - Disruptive Creation On The Fault Line

IMHO: We Are Becoming Nomadig...

The Internet Devalues Everything It Touches...


Aggregation Is Not Curation - There Is A Big Difference

Curation is becoming an increasingly important term and for good reason: the online world is increasingly messy, muddled and full of blind alleys.

Search used to be the best way to navigate online but today it is only one part of an Internet user's dashboard. Finding things is fine if you know what to look for, but search is increasingly less effective in judging the quality of links, or putting those links into a context.

Blekko, the recently launched search engine tries to provide a context for search terms but it's still not curation but aggregation

So what is curation?

Here is my definition:

Curation is a person or persons, engaged in the act of choosing and presenting things related to a specific topic and context.

An example of curation: the San Francisco De Young museums is exhibiting post-impressionist masterpieces from the Musée d'Orsay's permanent collection.

Aggregation is the collection of as many things that can be found related to a topic.

Aggregation would be a collection of any or all, post-impressionist masterpieces from Musée d'Orsay's permanent collection.

Curation is about choosing what's in a collection. Aggregation is just collecting.

On the Internet we see lots of examples of aggregation e.g. Google News aggregates all the news stories around a topic.

There is "smart" aggregation or "social" aggregation in which the algorithms for aggregation try to get clues from groups of humans about what to collect and how to present it.

- Google search is an example of smart aggregation in that the PageRank algorithm uses links on web pages to determine the importance of any link.

- Flipboard, the popular iPad based magazine, gets its clues from your social network about what content to present in its "Flip" format. This aggregation isn't about any topic or context, it is a miscellaneous collection - it's not curation.

Curation can use aggregation tools to uncover/discover things but aggregation is not curation.

There are lots of online curation tools out there and each one is good for certain things.

Some blog posts can be examples of curation: presenting a list of links around a topic.

For much of this year I've been working with Pearltrees and its team of developers, because it is the most comprehensive curation tool I've found so far.

- Pearltrees provides a visual "mind-map" metaphor that links relevant web pages, Tweets, videos, photos -- it works with any and all online content unlike other tools.

- Pearltrees is sharable and embeddable. You can grab my "Patti Smith in Golden Gate Park" Pearltree and add it to your Pearltree collection. I can't do that with any other curation tool.

- Pearltrees is dynamic. If I add new content to my "Patti Smith" Pearltree it automatically updates the same Pearltree in your collection.

- Pearltrees has a powerful algorithm for discovering similar Pearltrees, which is great for uncovering great content that you might have missed.

- Pearltrees can't be spammed. You make the selections, you control your Pearltree.

(There is some big news coming out from Pearltrees later this month that will take it to another level.)

Curation, as a topic isn't going to go away, it will be one of the most important subjects of 2011.

Curation is about the "human web" while aggregation is about the "machine web." Come back for more on this topic.

Here is a Pearltree on curation:

Curation


Paypal's Max Levchin: The Rise Of The Angels . . . And The Fall In Innovation

I'm a fan of Max Levchin and his fellow Paypal alumni because this group has spent the past five years creating many of the more interesting Silicon Valley startups.

Mr Levchin recently sold Slide to Google and he is an investor in Yelp and several other startups. And he is still young and has a lot more to add to his wikipedia page before he is done.

Mr Levchin writes on his blog, but only very occasionally. One such occasion was fairly recently, his first since mid-2008, a critique of Silicon Valley's angel community.

Angels have done very well for themselves over the past few years and this includes many of his former Paypal colleagues.

In his latest post: On ambition « You've gotta be kidding me he writes that the Angel method of investing in startups is considered a better method, "an antidote" to traditional VC investing.

Silicon Valley Angels have done well by choosing companies that can exit (sell themselves) fairly quickly, at fairly low values, $10 million to $20 million. While this approach makes money for the angels and their investments, it tends to discourage building breakthrough companies.

Angels advise startups to take smaller and earlier exits, which minimizes Angel risk but does little to develop startups with big dreams.

It's an astute observation and it is something that I've been thinking about over the past couple of years. I meet with a lot of startups and I remember meeting with Mr Levchin when I was at the Financial Times, and he was at Paypal; and hearing about Paypal's ambitions. Similarly with the founders of Yahoo, Salesforce, Google, Facebook and other groundbreaking companies.

Today, it is rare to find startups that think beyond being lucky to survive two years and be sold.

Yet even a few years ago we did have startups with grand designs. For example, I was an early admirer of Ribbit, a plucky startup that had the potential to disrupt the Telco industry.

Yet in mid-2008 it agreed to be bought by BT, the British Telecom giant. I was very disappointed: Are we seeing a disturbing trend in "blackmail" innovation...? | ZDNet

Since that acquisition Ribbit has launched a cool iPhone app but not much else. It has been dead quiet under the ownership of BT -- yet at one time this was an ambitious team taking on the world.

Mr Levchin sees the rise of the Angel and "Super Angel" investors as the key factor in the lack of "significant innovation" today.

At the moment, what amounts to lack of visible significant innovation seems to correlate with abundance of angel-funded startups shooting to get picked up for a fistful of dollars.

We should aim higher.

I agree.

It's easy to understand why Mr Levchin takes this position. He and his team built Paypal into a formidable company that eBay was happy to acquire for $1.5 billion. That's a hundred times more money than the $10 million to $20 million exit rounds of Angel investors.

Because Angel investors are investing smaller sums of money there is little incentive for them to take larger risks. However, traditional VC firms will invest at higher valuations and therefore will be less willing to sell for a "fistful of dollars."

The VC firms require a larger exit, and that's why they set a greater goal for their startups: to own markets of $1 billion and more -- this creates startups with far higher expectations. And that's what Silicon Valley needs if it is to produce the next Paypal, Google, Salesforce...

Mr Levchin makes an important point in correlating the rise of the Angel investors, with the fall in innovative startups.


Massive 8x Jump In Twitter Use By Twitter Co-Founder Ev Williams

Last week I went to see Twitter co-founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone talk at an Inforum meeting of the Commonwealth Club.

I didn't hear much that wasn't already known but there were a few gems. One was how little engaged Evan Williams seemed to be with Twitter

- Mr Williams said he only Tweets about twice a day and prefers to use Twitter for consumption. I thought this was extraordinary because he is in charge of product development at Twitter. If you aren't a "power" user that's going to make it difficult to make the right decisions on product design, I would think...

- Biz Stone commented on Mr William's lack of engagement on Twitter when he said that if he were buried in rubble, Mr Williams would not be the first person he would Tweet for help.

- Biz Stone commented on the failure of Odeo, a startup both had founded, focused on being a directory for podcasts. He said Mr Williams and himself had no interest in podcasts, they didn't listen to them and didn't make podcasts. This lack of engagement made it difficult for Odeo to succeed but... it was easy raising money for it.

That made me wonder about Mr Williams' lack of engagement on Twitter. What did that mean for the future of Twitter? After all, a lack of engagement doomed Odeo.

Up until the evening of the Inforum talk, from Oct 1 to Oct 11, Mr Williams had made only 20 Tweets, just a shade under his two-a-day average.

Then after I published my Inforum report things changed, by a lot.

I'm pleased to report that Mr Williams is now very engaged in Twitter. I counted more than 110 Tweets in the past 7 days. That's nearly 16 Tweets a day, or a factor of 8 times Mr Williams' prior daily rate.

There is a healthy number of re-Tweets, showing that he is capable of spreading the love; and there are few conversational Tweets that mean little to observers. It's a reasonably decent quality Tweet stream.

You can take a look for yourself: Evan Williams (EV) on Twitter

UPDATED: Maybe I spoke too soon. Sean Garrett, Twitter's comms chief tells me I'm wrong:

@ the jump is because Ev did an Q&A session on Twitter. Ev uses Twitter all day long but doesn't mean he always tweets.

However, it was encouraging to see the extra Tweets by Mr Williams. I always look at companies eating their own dog food, as unappetizing as that sounds, it is important, imho. It's important for us heavy users that the developers understand what we need and how we use the product or service.

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Please See:

Twitter's Ev Williams and Biz Stone At Inforum: Surprisingly Little Insight Into Twitter... - SVW



Winster.com: Dull Games Play Vital Life Support For Older, Single Women

Jerry Kaplan is a serial entrepreneur know for Onsale.com, Go Pen Computers, Egghead.com and his book, Startup: A Silicon Valley Adventure.

His latest venture, Winster.com was started by his wife in 2004. It's a social gaming site with an interesting twist - the games are non-competitive and designed to be minimally interesting. Yet they have attracted millions of players because they help build enduring online friendships.

The players are mostly older, single women that are largely home bound because of various circumstances and thus unable to easily build or maintain friendships. They form groups that play Winster games, and as they play they build their friendships.

The games are designed in such a way that each player relies on the other players to help them succeed in the game. Competitive play gets you nowhere.

It's counter-intuitive that such games would gain such a large following. More than two million people have played on WInster and many spend several hours a day playing with their friends.

I recently spoke with Jerry Kaplan and here are some notes from our conversation:

- The players are mostly older women who are widowed or have physical impairments that make it difficult for them to get out of their homes. The games rely on sharing and cooperation - competitive play is not possible because you need the other players. If players do engage in competitive play they tend not to be asked back by the group.

- An example of one of games is a variation on poker where players contribute to each other's hands so that they have the best hand.

- We only have ten games and the design of the games is deliberately simple and fairly monotonous. Groups tend to stick with the same game each time they play.

- Our most popular game is based on a slot machine, our least popular game is a form of Sudoku, it forces people to think which cuts down on conversation.

- As people play there is a chat screen and as they play they create very supportive relationships. They chat about their families, their illnesses, etc.

- I've had many emails from users thanking us for helping them make friends. One lady said she hadn't had a visitor in over a year, and that just the other day one of the women she met online spent the day with her. Others have said that Winster has literally saved their lives. It's hard to explain how emotionally attached people become to their groups.

- We became profitable in the fourth quarter of last year. We raised $3m earlier this year. Our revenue comes from subscriptions and virtual goods.

- Users are incentivized to recommend their friends but it's not easy to use viral means of promotion because users have a limited social circle.

- Our focus now is to reach out to find more players. As the population ages and families are dispersed, there is a growing need to help older people feel more connected with others.

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Please see:

Winster - Games, Friends, Prizes

Facebook (1) | Winnie Winster


Twitter's Ev Williams and Biz Stone At Inforum: Surprisingly Little Insight Into Twitter...

If you missed Twitter co-founders Ev Williams and Biz Stone interviewed by Brad Stone from BusinessWeek, Monday evening -- you were fortunate.

The two executives spoke at a meeting of Inforum, which is part of the Commonwealth Club, focused on fostering discussion among people in their 20s and 30s.

The location was the stunning Julia Morgan Ballroom at The Merchants Exchange in downtown San Francisco, (a building owned by Clint Reilly, one of California's top political power brokers). And there was a huge fireplace, as advertised for the "Fireside chat" but little fire in the conversation.

Brad Stone was introduced as "known for asking the tough questions" but if the answers aren't forthcoming it takes probing -- which Mr. Stone was reluctant to do, preferring to move on to the next question on his list.

Overall, I did learn something: about a "social mission" at Twitter which was a surprise; and that Ev Williams isn't all that engaged with Twitter or knows much about his users. Biz Stone came across as much more tuned into Twitter.

Here are some notes from the evening:

- Is Twitter mainstream? Ev Williams came back with "what does mainstream mean?" Twitter has gone beyond pundits.

- How's the new site going? Ev Williams said it was a great success, not even a single protest group. We expected pitchforks. Even Biz liked it.

(I have heard from many people complaining about the new site and loss of some features. It was a little shocking that the Twitter co-founders were so self-congratulatory on not being able to find critics. Scratch a little deeper...)

- Ev Williams said he goes to Twitter for news and Tweets maybe just once or twice a day. (Wow! That's very low engagement.)

- Ev Williams dropped Conan O'Brien's name, said he was talking to him and his writers and they like the 140 character constraint because it produces better jokes.

- Malcolm Gladwell's recent post "Why the revolution will not be Tweeted" was politely received at first but then both founders laid into him. Mr. Williams said, "it was laughable" and that he confused Twitter with Wikipedia when he (Gladwell) complained about a lack of editorial control.

Biz Stone said that no one had claimed that the revolution would be Tweeted in the first place. And that the Iranian political protests weren't technically a revolution.

- They were asked about ads and they said all ads would be properly marked. They also mentioned a "resonance" algorithm so that if a major brand is Tweeting ads, and it doesn't resonate with Twitter users, they will pull the ads and not charge for the ads.

(Will they use re-tweets to measure "resonance?" What else do they have to measure and why do they need an algorithm for that? How many people will gladly re-tweet an ad? Only if bribed.)

- They will analyze users and who they follow so for example, someone following lots of video game related people will be offered to Xbox if it wants to gain more readers for its Tweets, for a price.

- Asked about censorship they said they don't want to moderate Tweets and that they have three simple rules, they will ban Tweets that have specific violent threats; links to child pornography; and links to copyrighted content specified by takedown orders.

Biz Stone said it would take considerable creativity to be "super porny" in 140 characters, therefore it's not a problem. They support free speech.

(If they had to moderate tens of millions of Tweets daily they would soon be out of business. It has nothing to do with standing up for free speech.)

- Twitter has a division that seeks to work with newspapers and other media organizations to see how "both can succeed." (Good luck getting money out of hard hit media groups.)

- Asked about not having a business model Ev WIlliams said he didn't like all the talk that they didn't have a business model because they hadn't been working on a business model in the first place(!) They wanted to take their time to eventually get to a point where they had a business model and try out different things that weren't obvious, like using Google AdSense.

- They said Twitter would get to a billion users, just like Facebook but it would be a different billion users.

- The failure of Odeo was brought up, a search engine for podcasts that both were involved in. They said they weren't emotionally connected with Odeo, and that they didn't produce or listen to podcasts, which didn't help. But it was easy to raise money for the venture.

(Ev Williams is not that engaged with Twitter, I wonder if that will be a problem down the line.)

- Not much interest in expanding into China, especially since Twitter is blocked. There are several thousand users in China using VPNs.

- They want Twitter to be relevant to users and connect with their information, they don't have to Tweet much if at all (a la Ev Williams).

- They have a big design and engineering team working on new products.
(Look out Twitter ecosystem!)

- Both, especially Biz Stone, spoke about a social mission for Twitter and that connecting people around the world would make people empathize more with one another and people would realize they are citizens of the world.
(The "Social Mission" aspect of Twitter sounded contrived especially since we are just hearing about it now... Why not earlier? Sounds like it was bolted-on.)

- Biz Stone spoke about some educational philanthropic projects. "If you can't read - you can't Tweet."

Q&A was lackluster.

I found just 1 Tweet about the content of the Inforum presentation:

: "Twitter will get to 1billion users.... in the future - @ "

UPDATED: There were more Tweets under the hashtag #InforumSF that I missed, my apologies, it was late at night... Thanks to Sean Garrett (@SG) for pointing that out.

Foremski's Take: Twitter is a "force of nature." It became successful despite its founders knowing much about what was happening. To hear the founders try to explain Twitter as a type of fait accomplis from the start was entertaining and ludicrous.

I would have preferred a more honest approach, something along the lines of:

"We tried Twitter as a side project, but we had no idea what it would do, or turn into... We thought about closing it down several times because people were Tweeting pathetic stuff and it was starting to cost a fortune in SMS charges ... but then it took off.

Now, we are scrambling just to keep up with our users, and we are trying to make money copying the best ideas in our ecosystem of app developers. We have a kick ass team to do that.

Plus, we don't really know what the heck is going on inside Twitter, we're just trying to ride it and not get thrown off. It's not like we spend that much time on Twitter anyway ... we're busy having a real life ; )"

Sadly, we didn't get that. It would have been far closer to the truth if we had, and far more authentic.


Analysis: Google v Facebook Is About . . . Fast versus Sticky - Which Strategy Will Win?

Google's most important launch this year was its recent debut of Google Instant search which cuts user search time by as much as 40%. Google users are collectively saving 11 hours per second. That means 11 hours per second being spent away from Google search.

Google is betting it that if its users spend less time on search then it will make more money.

This is a far different strategy from that of Facebook which wants to be the stickiest place on the Internet.

Nielsen estimates that each month, an average US internet user spends around 2 hours on Google, and more than 7 hours on Facebook.

It'll be interesting to see the latest Nielsen numbers following the launch of Google Instant Search. What's certain is that the disparity in user hours will widen, and so will the disparity in their respective business strategies.

How is less time on your sites better than more?

It seems very counter-intuitive. Shorter visits means less time that users spend potentially looking and clicking on advertising -- which can't be good. Yet Google is staking a multi-billion dollar a year business on the bet that fast is better than sticky.

And it seems to be working.

Facebook is very sticky yet its revenues are a fraction of Google's (as far as we can estimate since Facebook is a private company).

The Facebook strategy favors a more-closed-than-open platform approach that seeks to provide a semi-porous walled garden -- a type of post Internet-modern AOL strategy.

Google's strategy firmly supports an open web. It sees the Internet as its platform, it is Google's Internet. It is the by far most successful company at monetizing the scale of the Internet and also in promoting web standards.

Big "I" versus little "i"

Facebook has created a simulacrum of the Internet -- a mini-Internet.

Each Facebook user is essentially a single web site, each profile page is a home page for a personal web site.

Facebook makes it easy for each user to update and maintain their personal "web sites" and it helps promote and distribute that content through automatic feeds.

Which company has the larger business opportunity?

Which is a larger market, the Internet as a whole, or a subset of the Internet as represented by Facebook?

Clearly, Google has the greater business opportunity because it isn't as restricted as Facebook.

Clearly, there is more to be gained in trying to monetize the entire Internet rather than a subset of the Internet.

Sticky money ratios...

Google's efficiency in monetizing its users is truly impressive when compared with Facebook.

Google generated nearly $7 billion in revenues in its most recent quarter.

Since an average U.S. Google user spends 2 hours per month with Google, that represents about: $600 million per average user month per hour (in the U.S.).

This stickiness-to-revenue ratio, or what might be better called the "sticky money ratio" is an interesting benchmark.

If Google can get its users to spend less time through Google Instant Search, say 1.5 hours per month and raise revenues it could boost its sticky money ratio to $750 million per average user/month per hour. That's a tough act to follow.

Facebook's sticky and closed strategy is generating a fraction of Google's revenues. And it is Google's sticky money ratio that Facebook will be judged by investors -- like it or not.

Sticky and closed is a safer, if less profitable strategy.

By keeping a mostly closed environment, Facebook gains a large measure of protection against Google's great ability to use its scale to monetize large numbers of Internet users.

Google can only access relatively small parts of Facebook.

By keeping control over its mini-internet, Facebook has more time to figure out business models without any danger from competitors. After all, Facebook controls the entire economy within its walls. That's a very good position to have.

However, it is worth pointing out that if Google had users spending 7 hours a month -- as they do on Facebook -- at its current sticky money ratio, it would have reported almost $25 billion in revenues instead of the $6.8 billion in its most recent quarter. A potential $100 billion company.

Facebook has a long way to go to match Google's monetization efficiencies but that also shows off the huge business opportunity it has. And possibly, sticky money ratios will be a good way to measure the competitive performance of each company.

- - -
Please see:

Analysis: Google Sets Major Relaunch Of Search - SVW


Meet IBM's Jon Iwata: "Most Forward Thinking" Communications Professional...

J_Iwata.jpg

I've been fascinated with Jon Iwata ever since he was appointed head of IBM's Corporate Communications and Marketing. It's highly unusual for one person to hold both positions and it could mark the beginning of a new trend.

As a senior VP of Marketing and Communications at IBM, the world's largest computer company, Mr. Iwata has a tremendous amount of influence within the computer industry and beyond.

It's the combination of such roles that interests me greatly because it offers the possibility of a completely new role with new vistas of possibilities. I'm curious about what this means for IBM and if such a pioneering role could be replicated at other companies.

Jerry Swerling, Director of PR Studies and the USC Annenberg Strategic PR Center, describes Mr. Iwata as a man "whose name invariably comes up when you ask knowledgeable professionals to name the smartest, most forward-thinking people in the business." (Here.)

I've spoken with Mr. Iwata and with Ben Edwards, IBM VP and Director of Digital Strategy and Development. Check back later this week for the interview.

But first, here is some background on Mr. Iwata and his leadership in an initiative within IBM focused on "citizenship" and IBM's "Smarter Planet" strategy. I include a video and some extracts from his speeches.

Bio:

- He holds a B.A. from the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at San Jose State University.

- Jon joined the communications function of IBM in 1984 at the company's Almaden Research Center in Silicon Valley. In 1989, he joined IBM corporate headquarters in Armonk, New York.

- He was appointed vice president of Corporate Communications in 1995 and senior vice president, Communications, in 2002. He assumed his current role on July 1, 2008.

Here is an extract from a speech at the Yale Club in November 2009:

(via Toni Muzi Falconi at PR Conversations.)

One day soon, every employee, every retiree, every customer, every business partner, every investor and every neighbor associated with every company will be able to share an opinion about that company with everyone in the world, based on firsthand experience. The only way we can be comfortable in that world is if every employee of the company is truly grounded in what their company values and stands for.

What are we doing about this at IBM? We have created a new discipline within my organization that puts together brand management and workforce enablement, or what we used to call internal communications. This may sound to some like external and internal messaging coming together - employee as brand ambassador. Sure, that's an aspect of it. But the centerpiece is something quite different. We call it the IBM Brand System.

Picture a framework with five columns. From left to right the columns are labeled what it means to look like IBM, to sound like IBM, to think like IBM, to perform like IBM and ultimately to be IBM.

Here is an extract from a speech on the future of PR at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism in March 2010 by Lara Levin:

"When you think about the PR profession -- what it'll look like 10 years from now - start not with PR but with the world at large; not with the decade, but the century," said Iwata, adding that a century from now, the world will look back on the early 20th century as a time when "civilization took a great leap forward," marked by "changes in what people know, changes in what people expect and ultimately changes in behavior."

Though attempting to analyze such a period of change while simultaneously experiencing it continues to prove difficult, Iwata identified new disciplines in the corporate function, emerging from an environment characterized by transparency and readily available information. At the core of these emergent disciplines is a stress on behavior management--a sense of corporate integrity permeated down to and communicated directly from the individual employee.

"Lincoln said character is like a tree, reputation is like its shadow," Iwata said. "Many believe their job is to manipulate the shadow rather than tend to the health of the tree. In this world of transparency and democratized media, it is increasingly difficult for organizations and individuals to lead double lives. There can be no image management without behavior management.

"People care about the corporation behind the soft drink, or bank account, or computer - they do not divorce their opinions of that company from the company's products and services."

Iwata went on to suggest that the behavior and subsequent image of a company goes far beyond the surface, indicating a need for the instillment of unique corporate values among all employees, as "they only matter if lived and applied consistently by everyone in the company."

According to Iwata, it is through the consistent maintenance of and adherence to a brand's values and promise that they are able to succeed in another emerging discipline--that of building constituencies. The idea of merely reaching an audience and achieving message penetration is not enough. "Pumping out information only adds to the nosie and compounds the challenge of being heard... Value will come from offering perspective and useful information and providing a contribution to our audience's knowledge."

Citing Apple as a company that does this well, Iwata suggested, "They don't just advertise, they teach. They don't just sell, they create learning experiences in their stores. They want you to learn everything their product can do, so then you will teach others... In the process they recruit new and loyal customers that become advocates and evangelists."

Crafting and disseminating a valuable message and building this constituency is no longer, however, the task of solely communications professionals. Iwata described a third and final major shift as the development of the eminence of a company's workforce--training employees to act and communicate as experts who produce valuable information for the public and extend the power of the brand.

"2010 is the year that corps grapple with and ultimately accept that their employees are engaging with social media... But simply having your people on the net is not the differentiator. It's what they do once they get there."



(Jump to about 21.00 to cut out welcoming remarks.)

I hope this has whetted your appetite for finding out more about Mr. Iwata and his pioneering work at IBM and how that might influence the broad practice of corporate communications and PR.

Jon Iwata (coastw) on Twitter


3 Simple Steps In Gaining The Upper Hand In A Tweet Fight

Publishing online, whether it is tweets or blog posts, will occasionally upset some people. You can't please everyone and you shouldn't try to please everyone, sometimes the truth hurts.

If you find yourself in a Tweet fight here are three simple steps to ensure you come out on top.

Step 1 - Make sure it isn't a "Twit" fight because paraphrasing Confucius, if you engage in a public brawl with a mad person, those passing by and watching the spectacle will find it hard to tell the difference.

Step 2 - Step away from the keyboard. Passion and emotion is not your friend at this stage. Engage very lightly. Step away from the keyboard and your computer screen for several hours.

During that time the other person will have lathered themselves into a froth. By that time, they have likely also launched a personal attack.

You can then return to the keyboard calm and collected and look supremely reasonable while the other person has dug a massive hole for themselves, filled it with mud, and jumped in for a good wallow.

Step 3 - Write a post about how to gain the upper hand in a Tweet fight.


Cisco Plans Relaunch Of News@Cisco

Yesterday I met with Autumn Truong, Senior Social Media Strategies for Cisco Corporate Communications, and she told me about plans to relaunch the pioneering News@Cisco site.

I'm a big fan of what Cisco has done with its communications. Cisco was the inspiration for my "Every company is a media company" mantra.

More than five years ago, Dan Scheinman was running Cisco corporate communications and also head of Cisco's M&A strategy, a multi-billion dollar a year war chest for acquisitions.I met with him and was amazed by what I heard, that News@Cisco, the company's corporate newsroom, was getting more traffic than the top industry trade publications at the time. Cisco had more than 200 RSS feeds, and was employing a cadre of top journalists and editors to help tell its story and that of its customers.

Cisco now planning to extend its News@Cisco site and make it less about Cisco and more about the industry and SIlicon Valley. There will be articles on collaboration, social media, virtualization, video, network technology, and culture.

"Cisco is already producing a lot of content from its different divisions. We will be curating a lot of that work but also adding new content by commissioning work from outside of Cisco," said Ms. Truong.

The relaunch is planned for November of this year and it has been in preparation for about five months. It is part of a team project managed by John Earnhardt, Director of Social Media Communications at Cisco. More details to come...

- - -

Please see: Meeting Cisco's M&A Chief And Realizing Every Company Is A Media Company - SVW


Eric Schmidt - Google's Chief Lightning Rod

Eric Schmidt has an interesting job at Google. His official position is co-CEO with founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin but his job title should be CLR or Chief Lightning Rod because he is often entrusted with announcing unpopular policies or making comments that bring a lot of media attention, more than Messrs. Page and Brin would welcome.

Mr. Schmidt's lightening rod escapades extend to his off-the-cuff remarks. He's not known for his careful consideration of what he is about to say in public forums, probably because of his age, which confers a quality of stubbornness and a lack of tact often seen in older men.

One of Mr. Schmidt's less considered remarks was when he said children should change their names when adults, to protect them from online content that might surface and reveal youthful indiscretions.

He received a lot of criticism for this, but it turns out it was all a joke! That's what he told Stephen Colbert on the TV show "The Colbert Report." Danny Goodwin has more here: Google's Schmidt to Colbert: Comment About Kids Changing Their Identity 'Was a Joke' @SEWatch

I have a better idea. Everybody should change their name to the same name and use nicknames between themselves. When everyone is called I.M. Spartacus we won't have to worry about any unwelcome Google revelations.

- - -




The Two-Way Internet...

[Here is a draft of an article for the fifth anniversary of the Society for New Communications Research (SNCR) - a Palo Alto, California based think tank. I'm a founding fellow of SNCR.]

It's easy to forget that we are still in the very early stages of the Internet -- a basket of technologies that continues to evolve and affect nearly every aspect of our business and personal lives.

The first phase of the Internet emerged into the commercial space only in the mid-1990s, from military applications at first and then university research uses.

In this first phase of the commercial Internet, the development of web browsers meant that we could now publish a page of content: text, photos, video, to any computer screen regardless of the platform. It didn't matter what the operating system was, or the type of computer: mainframe, minicomputer or pocket computer -- as long as it can run a web browser we can publish a web page to it from anywhere.

That was a significant achievement because you used to have to be on the same network, for example AOL, or CompuServe to be able to publish the same content to other users. There was no cross-platform communications, even email was difficult. I remember it took years for gateways to be developed that could send email between CompuServe and MCI Mail - two popular email networks.

It took government funding and support for industry standard protocols to be able to achieve what we call the Internet. And once the rivalries between the competing self-contained networks could be bypassed, the Internet took off like a rocket.

The Internet's potential effect on business was extraordinary. In the mid to late 1990s, stock market investors built a massive "dotcom" bubble. A company only had to announce that they would launch a web site to have a massive spike in its market value.

Those days seem ridiculous in hindsight but only because we did not yet have the means to truly transform business operations, at least not yet. But the investors were correct in their prediction that there was a truly disruptive force at work and that those companies that were forging ahead would have significant advantages.

In those heady, early days, large corporations were faced with threats that the "dotcom" companies would "eat their lunch." Many companies panicked and launched expensive Internet operations without thinking things through; many companies were frozen in indecision and did nothing.

The dotcom dotbomb soon arrived and established businesses breathed a collective sigh of relief: their lunch was intact and most dotcoms disappeared overnight. A recession gripped the entire tech sector for several years as the excesses of those early years played themselves out.

Recessions, however, are excellent nurseries, it's where innovation emerges. And the early 2000s is where blogging started to emerge, and thats when the first social networks such as Friendster and MySpace appeared. And it is where the roots of what we now call social media emerged.

There is much written about, and spoken about, and tweeted about social media, social networks, social CRM ... "social" with everything. But the "social" part is a red herring because what emerged in the early 2000s was the second phase of the Internet.

The first phase allowed us to publish content to any computer screen. The second phase of the Internet is where any computer screen can publish back.

We now have a two-way Internet.

If you thought Internet 1.0 was impressive then look out because now we have a two-way Internet, and this time, the new "dotcoms" will be far more challenging to established businesses, they will eat lunch, breakfast, and anything else of value. It is an Internet on steroids.

For example, we now have a printing press in our pockets that can potentially reach tens of millions and soon billions of people. It's no wonder that Rupert Murdoch is pissed. You used to have to be a media mogul, buying ink by the barrel to have the potential reach an audience that anyone with a smart phone, or desktop computer can now reach.

The Internet is a powerful media technology, it's a publishing technology. And it has become very easy to use thanks to sophisticated development tools and services that anyone can use.

- You used to have to be a computer expert to set up and publish a web site, now anyone can do it in less than ten minutes.

- You used to have to build a large audience in order for your content to be seen now you can post something to Facebook or Twitter and your network of friends or contacts will republish it and potentially reach huge audiences.

The Internet has become a two-way medium.

What does this mean?

It means that "social" media is just one application of this next stage of the Internet. It means that every company, every person is potentially a media company and has to learn how to use this two-way Internet.

Every company, even if it makes diapers or ball bearings is also a media company because it publishes to its potential customers, employees, neighbors, etc. And it also has to learn how to listen and engage with those communities as they publish back.

Businesses that figure out how to use the two-way Internet will prosper and the ones that don't, won't.

New types of applications will emerge such as personalized advertising that is location based; and a whole host of other applications that have yet to be imagined.

- A two-way Internet means that anything and everything can become connected.

- A two-way Internet means that there is a huge amount of data to be mined that can provide businesses with incredible insights into their markets.

- A two-way Internet can provide businesses with real-time responses to changing market conditions.

- A two-way Internet will unleash a tremendous amount of innovation in the forms of applications, new media formats, and new societies/communities.

A two-way Internet will also transform the way we consume and interact with media. The media is dying but long live the media because we now have more forms of media, in more formats than at any time in our human history.

How will that affect us? Media is how society "thinks" it is how countries develop policies, it is how we figure out solutions to important problems such as the economy, the environment, education, elderly care, energy and those are just the problems that begin with "e."

What are the new cultures being formed? What will the cultural changes mean to business?

A business that doesn't understand its changing culture won't be in business for long.

It is these types of issues that SNCR was formed to research and to try and understand.

We have plenty of technology and technologies in our world but so what? It's how these technologies are used, how they are applied, how they affect and effect our society that SNCR seeks to understand and to share with others.

We now live in a two-way Internet and that's an immense field of study and it is one that will continually surprise us with its near infinite permutations.

For journalists, for professional communicators of all kinds, these are troubled times but also extremely exciting times. At no other time in our professional lives will we see such huge changes in our jobs, our lives, our communities.

We don't know the answers, we know some of them but there are so many more to discover.

We all can take part in figuring out what those answers are. Those answers might keep changing or they might become the new rules for the next phase of the Internet. We don't know yet, we don't even know all the questions but it's sure exciting finding out.

And that's why SNCR has managed to attract some of the best people working in this area, eager and curious about the future and what it might look like.

- - -

If you liked "The Two-Way Internet" there are similar posts in my book: "In My Humble Opinion"


Is Apple's Porn Ban Damaging The Future of Media?

Everyone knows that Steve Jobs has banned porn and any sexual content from the iPad but is this a wise move?

I just started reading Nick Bilton's book "I live in the future & here's how it works" and the first chapter is about his investigation of the porn industry to see if there are any lessons to be applied to the media industry.

I've long been an admirer of the porn industry's innovative business models as applied to technology and media. And Mr. Bilton does a great job in expanding on that theme.

Every time a new technology has been introduced, way back to the printing press, sexual content has helped drive that technology and develop thriving business models that others have been able to adopt and prosper with.

He quotes an essay from the mid - 1990s by Peter Johnson, a prominent lawyer: Pornography Drives Technology: Why Not to Censor the Internet

Throughout the history of new media, from vernacular speech to movable type, to photography, to paperback books, to videotape, to cable and pay-TV, to "900" phone lines, to the French Minitel, to the Internet, to CD-ROMs and laser discs, pornography has shown technology the way. "Great art is always flanked by its dark sisters, blasphemy and pornography."(5) The same is true of the more mundane arts we call media. Where there is the Gutenberg Bible, there is also Rabelais; where the U.S. mails, dirty postcards; where the three-volume hardback novel, paperback pulp fiction; where HBO, Midnight Blue; where CompuServe, the Plain Brown Wrapper library.(6)


Pornography,(7) far from being an evil that the First Amendment must endure, is a positive good that encourages experimentation with new media. The First Amendment thus has not only intellectual, moral, political, and artistic value,(8) but practical and economic value as well. It urges consenting adults, uninhibited by censorship, to look for novel ways to use the new media and novel ways to make money out of the new uses. Therefore, while it may be politically impossible and socially unwise to encourage computer pornography, legislators should at least leave it alone and let the medium follow where pornography leads.

Mr. Bilton goes on to describe his investigation into the porn industry and its many ways of making money but finds very few lessons from the digital world that can be adapted to mainstream media, (which is very worrying).

But the chapter on porn made me think that maybe Steve Jobs is doing us all a massive disservice by banning porn from the iPad. If this is truly an important new technology platform for media, why does it specifically exclude the most innovative sector in media of our modern and historical times?!

There is lots written about how the iPad can save the media industry but so far, there's not much innovation in that area. Charging $5 per iPad issue of Time, or some other magazine isn't innovative in the slightest.

I had lunch recently with Sam Whitmore and his wife Kristie, they run the excellent Media Survey, and many of the largest PR agencies subscribe to Sam's analysis of media trends. I gave him a copy of my book "In My Humble Opinion", which is based on some of my earlier posts. He said I was one of the first to point out that the digital revenues from media would not match offline revenues and that this would cause a crisis in the media industry. About five years ago I wrote a series of posts around this theme, one that is very common today.

We discussed that despite the fact that this theme is very common today with many people writing about it, the issue still hasn't yet been solved.

We still don't know how to transition the old media to the economic reality of the new media without sacrificing tremendous numbers of jobs and centuries of best practices.

I see this issue as one of the most important issues facing not just the Internet but society in general.

Software engineers talk about "garbage in, garbage out." If you start with bad data you get bad results.

If we have a garbage media, we will have problems. Media is how society "thinks" about important problems, and we have plenty of those: the economy, environment, education, energy, the elderly... and those are just the ones beginning with "e."

We still haven't solved the problem of how to finance quality media.

It's the Gordian knot of our times, whoever solves it will be rich, but whoever solves it solves it for all of us, because we can all take advantage of it.

If pornographers can solve this issue then let them -- we will all benefit from it because we might then have a viable business model for all media. (We might then also have a viable business model for media on the iPad and Apple will benefit from that.)

- - -
Please see:


6 Years Ago I Wrote My First Blog Post - About Intel's Backpacks...No Fish Smell This Year

About six years ago I wrote my first post on SIlicon Valley Watcher, it was about the quality of backpacks at the Intel Developer Conference.

Intel is notorious for being penny pinching. When times are tough cubicles get smaller, and the conference backpacks fall in quality. My tongue-in-cheek post was that you can divine how well Intel is doing at a particular point in time simply by assessing the quality of its freebies.

Here is an extract from my very first blog post: Tech Watch: The secret barometer of Intel's health reveals... - SVW

In lean times, the backpacks are flimsy and made from lower grade materials. About a year ago, the quality of the backpacks at IDF jumped dramatically. And for good reason, revenues were strong and growing faster than expectations. Intel was raising revenue forecasts, not cutting them.

The spring 2004 IDF again produced a top quality backpack, black and electric blue, with good quality ballistic nylon, and stylish use of yellow trim. It was clear that Intel was expecting a good year.

At the Fall 2004 IDF, the conference backpack looked to be of comparable quality. Closer examination, however, showed that there was some downgrade in quality, but that it was minor. Conclusion? Slight downgrade to Intel's fortunes, but still betting on a solid business outlook for the next six months.

... UPDATE-Thursday September 23

Joe Fay from Computerwire is reporting that there is a strange smell emanating from his IDF backpack. He has confirmed it with colleagues.

It was true, the slight fishy smell was there once it was pointed out and it became more noticeable over the next few days. I had to abandon my backpack to the neighborhood children by leaving it on a street corner.

This year I can attest that the IDF backpacks are of excellent quality with no fish smells at all. Things must be going well for Intel [INTC].


Interview: Zach Nelson, CEO Of NetSuite - The Last Great Software Market...

I recently caught up with Zach Nelson, CEO of NetSuite, a cloud computing company that offers CRM to mid-sized companies. The company is enjoying a surge in business thanks to the downturn and a growing realization among companies about the many benefits of cloud based IT.

Mr. Nelson is a 20 year Silicon Valley veteran. He has worked at Oracle, Sun Microsystems, and McAfee/Network Associates.

Here are some notes from our conversation:

- We have benefited from the recession. Companies have long known that they are spending way to much on maintaining their CRM systems and now the recession has pushed many to the cloud. We have had four quarters of accelerated business.

- I see tremendous opportunities in our markets, I see it as one of the last great software markets because no one vendor dominates the market. The largest companies own between 10 and 20 per cent shares and that's the same the world over.

- SAP is moving into this area with its Business ByDesign but it has a long way to go. We've been at it for ten years, we have a ten year head start. You can't just port your software to the cloud, you have to completely rewrite it. But that's just one small part of what you have to do, you have to figure out the data center issues. SAP is used to mailing a disk and getting the customer to set it up on their data center. It's not that easy. Also, the deal sizes are smaller.

- Social media capabilities will eventually be built into all software. We are adding such features, to help CRM data become more social. But we don't charge extra for that. Making customer data more accessible within corporations makes a big difference, it enables users to run their own reports, for example.

- Security is no longer the issue it used to be. Ten years ago it was the first question from customers but now it is the last one because we have more than 6600 customers. The top question is how does it solve my business problem? ANd it is a different question in each industry. We have many different versions focused on different industry sectors, and we help companies customize the application.

- We have made two acquisitions in the past and we will look at others so that we can gain domain experience. But we don't spend any time worrying that we may be a target.

- Our largest challenge is how do we reach the Fortune 5 million? If your target is the Fortune 500 you can hire a salesforce. But when you are trying to reach the Fortune 5 million you have to adopt different tactics. The deal sizes are smaller but you still have to offer services that help customize the application.

- Smaller companies aren't much different from larger companies, they have similar problems to solve but different resources.

- Large companies are using NetSuite for their overseas operations. It's far easier to deploy. We see a lot of demand at the departmental level.

- The Internet is very important to businesses and if you don't have the Internet in the core of your business you will lose out to competitors.

- We want to become the Salesforce of the medium sized business market, that's the opportunity.


The Holy Grail Of SEO: Google Instant's Alphabet - A is for Amazon... B is for Best Buy ...C is for Craigslist...

The Google "Instant" team showed off one-touch search. Othar Hansson, a senior Google engineer, demonstrated (twice) how typing the letter "W" gave "weather in San Francisco" as the first result.

Being a brand that is called up by Google Instant on the very first letter is now the height of search engine optimization (SEO). I took a look at what came up for each letter. Results will vary somewhat by your location.

A is for ... Amazon, AOL, Apple, ATT.

B is for ... BART, Bank of America, Best Buy, Bing.

C is for ... Craigslist, Costco, CNN, Chase.

D is for ... DMV, Dictionary, Droid X, Disneyland.

E is for ... Ebay, ESPN, Expedia, Evite.

F is for ... Facebook, Facebook login, Fandango, FIFA.

G is for ... Gmail, Google maps, Google, Great America.

H is for ... Hotmail, Hulu, Home Depot, HP.

I is for ... Iphone, Ikea, Inception, IMDB.

J is for ... Jet Blue, Jeremy Lin, Jamba Juice, Java.

K is for ... Kaiser, KTUV, Kayak, Kohls.

L is for ... Lowes, Lost, LinkedIn, Limewire.

M is for ... Mapquest, Myspace, MSN, Maps.

N is for ... Netflix, Nordstrom, NBA, News.

O is for ...Outsidelands, Orbitz, OSH, Office Depot.

P is for ... Pandora, PG&E, Paypal, Petco.

Q is for ... Quotes, QVC, Quicktime, Quinoa.

R is for ... REI, Ross, Redfin, Rosh Hashanah.

S is for ... Skype, SFGate, Sears, Southwest.

T is for ... Target, Twitter, Thesaurus, Travelocity.

U is for ... USPS, UPS, United Airlines, Utube.

V is for ... Verizon, Virgin America, VLC, Verizon Wireless.

W is for ... Weather, Walmart, Wells Fargo, Wikipedia.

X is for ... Xbox, XKCD, XM Radio, Xfinity.

Y is for ... Yahoo, Youtube, Yahoo Mail, Yelp.

Z is for ... Zillow, Zappos, Zipcodes, Zynga.

If you can get your brand into the one-letter list you are golden. This is now the holy grail of SEO.


Analysis: Google Sets Major Relaunch Of Search Yet Doesn't Measure Effect On Advertising

The launch of "Google Instant" represents the single largest change to Google's search services in its history. "For the first time search is interactive," said Othar Hansson, a senior Google engineer.

The company said it performed extensive studies of users and how they interact with Google Instant plus extensive eye-tracking studies. They all showed a much improved user experience and a lot less time spent searching for the right page.

Google says it now has 1 billion users per week and that the time saved by users worldwide from using Google Instant is 11 hours per second. That's the equivalent of 350 million hours of user time per year, said Marissa Mayer, VP of Search Products and User Experience.

During the question and answer part of the launch, the Google team could offer no data on how the change would impact its advertising business beyond saying that what's best for the user is usually best for the advertiser.

This is shocking. Google makes a major change to the search service and the user experience -- yet has no measurement on how that impacts click rates on its adverts!

Let me say this again: Google makes a major change to the search service and the user experience -- yet has no measurement on how that impacts click rates on its adverts!

Those text ads on the side of its results page represent about two-thirds of its revenues. Any change to the structure of the search page has to impact the click through rate of its advertising for better or worse. Yet Google did not measure this impact. Wow.

It seems that the company is divided between those working on improving the search experience and the rest of the company that is trying to sell advertising. And there appears to be no communication between the two sides.

If I were a GOOG shareholder I'd be very concerned that the effectiveness of Google's advertising has been compromised. At the very least, as a shareholder, I would want to know that Google's advertising business has not been compromised by this major change in serving search results.

There must be an effect on advertising.

Think of it this way: If Google could guide me to my intended destination in the shortest time possible then the amount of time I spend staring at Google ads decreases. In this case, it decreases by 11 hours per second.

How is it possible that this will not affect advertising revenues? If I spend less time looking at a page with ads on it then surely that means less time spent clicking on ads?

And if Google has indeed studied the effect on advertising from using "instant" then why did it not offer supporting data instead of just saying that what's good for the user is usually good for the advertiser.

Google may have shot itself in the foot.

- - -

Please see: Will "Google Instant" Distract From Google Ads? That's What Eye-Tracker Data Shows...


Updated: Could Hurd + Oracle Acquire HP?

Several weeks ago I asked if Oracle might try to acquire Hewlett-Packard, and I speculated that Oracle could hire Mark Hurd, the ousted CEO of HP, for the job of integrating the company.

At least one half of that scenario has occurred with Oracle saying late Monday that Mark Hurd has replaced Charles Phillips as co-president of Oracle.

Is the stage now set for Oracle to mount a bid for HP?

- HP remains leaderless and that makes it vulnerable to be acquired.

- HP would provide Oracle with enormous and highly profitable consolidation opportunities with its Sun Microsystems acquisition.

- An Oracle/Sun/HP plus the 45 plus other acquisitions over the past 10 years, would make a company capable of competing against all of IBM. It would create a West coast versus East coast tech rivalry that would span the globe.
(Chart is from Stephen Jannise at Software Advice.)

However, an acquisition of HP by Oracle would be terrible for HP staff and for Silicon Valley's already high unemployment rate. Tens of thousands of people would lose their jobs (especially all the anti-Hurdists at HP).

HP has a market value of about $93 billion compared with about $95.3 billion in the wake of Mr. Hurd's departure. Oracle stands at $121 billion, a $5 billion increase over the same period.

Yes, it is a big pill to swallow however, it would enable Larry Ellison, CEO and co-founder of Oracle to perform an end run in the massive global IT market and also leave a substantial legacy on his upcoming retirement.

If there is one thing we know about Larry Ellison is that he is motivated by big goals. Is this one too large for him?

That's for him to decide.

UPDATE: If Oracle is serious about going after HP it will begin a campaign of trying to devalue HP in a war of words. This may have already begun.

This morning HP said it had sued Oracle over the employment of Mark Hurd in a civil complaint that he has violated prior agreements to keep HP trade secrets confidential.

Oracle responded with:

“Oracle has long viewed HP as an important partner,” said Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. “By filing this vindictive lawsuit against Oracle and Mark Hurd, the HP board is acting with utter disregard for that partnership, our joint customers, and their own shareholders and employees. The HP Board is making it virtually impossible for Oracle and HP to continue to cooperate and work together in the IT marketplace."

HP could lose large amounts of business. The announcement was made after the close of markets. It will be interesting to see how investors react on Wednesday.

It will be interesting to see if Oracle makes further comments about HP that could lead to a loss of investor confidence in the company.

- - -

Please see: Could Mark Hurd end up at Oracle? Therese Poletti's Tech Tales - MarketWatch

Therese Poletti speculated that Mark Hurd could end up at Oracle just hours before the news was announced.

Could Mark Hurd end up at Oracle? Therese Poletti's Tech Tales - MarketWatch

Last week, a little-known analyst quietly unearthed some interesting news about Oracle. Ryan Hunter, an analyst with Wedge Partners, a firm with offices in Edgewood, Colo., and New York, wrote in a report that Charles Phillips, co-president of Oracle, has lost some of his turf, and speculated he could be on his way out.

Phillips, an Oracle co-president along with Safra Catz, was replaced as the head of global business units by Bob Weiler, a former CEO who came in via an Oracle acquisition, Hunter said. Weiler is the former CEO of Phase Forward, a developer of applications for life sciences and health care acquired by Oracle in April for about $685 million. The change leaves Phillips responsible only for sales and marketing, Hunter said.

"Usually when you see this type of boardroom shuffle, it's not a positive sign," said Hunter. "Oracle said they are just reshuffling the deck but they didn't really justify it." Hunter added that if Phillips were to depart, it would not be a big negative for Oracle.

Also, Wall Street Journal caught wind of it on Sunday:

Mark Hurd in Talks With Oracle - WSJ.com


Intuit's Innovation And A Role In Creating New Jobs

Last week I attended Intuit's "Innovation Walk" a collection of Intuit business groups and partners offering a range of services and products such as Mint's personal finance, mobile payment services, and much more.

Intuit is in a unique position. As the tax preparation service for tens of millions of individuals and small businesses, it has access to a lot of data -- data that can help its users.

I spoke with Tayloe Stansbury, Chief Technology Officer, and Kris Halvorsen, Chief Innovation Officer about some of Intuit's initiatives and plans for the future.

One of the new services Intuit offers its customers is the ability to benchmark their business against other similar businesses. The data is collected and shared in such a way as to prevent it being identified with any specific business. It allows companies to check that they are in-line with expectations for their category and that their operation is being managed well.

I pointed out that this type of data could also be very useful for people starting a business. With high levels of unemployment there are many that would like to start their own business and if they could do that with realistic expectations of expenses, payroll and profit margins, it would go a long way in helping small businesses become successful.

Small businesses are the largest employer in the US and thus such innovative use of business data could help improve employment numbers in the US.

Irving Wladawsky-Berger, a former senior executive at IBM and its chief strategist, writes that unemployment levels are the largest since the Great Depression. He writes that there is an urgent need for innovation in job creation.

He points out that: "Joblessness is more devastating to families and communities than poverty. Many of the social ills in inner cities can be attributed to their loss of jobs in the 1970s."

The same technologies that have enabled companies to shed jobs should also be used to help create new jobs.

We are living in a time of great innovations, as we are leveraging our sophisticated, new technologies to develop new products and services, transform just about every industry and achieve major productivity growth in the economy. We need to focus at least a portion of our innovation efforts to explore how these same great new technologies can be used to help us create new jobs, both in the short and long terms.

For example, we should explore how to better leverage social networks and collaborative platforms for training and education, to help teach new skills to job seekers that better match current business requirements.

Maybe here is a direction for Intuit to take with its focus on innovation, helping not only to distribute data on businesses but also take a role in the vital education process that a new workforce needs.

I was impressed with Intuit team and executives I met. Also, it was good to see an old friend, Annie Kim, now working at Intuit in a key role.


Influence On Twitter Is Linked To Quality Of Content And Not Quantity Of Followers


[Daniel Romero is a Ph.D Candidate at Cornell Univeristy in the Center for Applied Mathematics. He works with Hewlett-Packard's Social Computing Lab Bernardo Huberman and colleagues.]

By Daniel M. Romero

The importance of mainstream news has changed with the advent and immense popularity of online social media.

The mainstream media is now aware that they have to be involved in the social media in order to keep their audience engaged. They understand that they no longer have complete control on what information people will attend to.

With social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc people can find the news they want even if the mainstream media may not be providing it to them. This is why today we see all major broadcast networks present and active on Twitter.

But are they as successful at social media as they are at mainstream media? Are they as influential as they are assumed to be in the offline world? Who are the most influential ones?

To answer these questions, we measured the influence of all the news media accounts on Twitter. We used the Influence-Passivity Algorithm discussed in a previous post at SVW: HP Twitter Study: Weak Link Between Popularity And Influence.

The data includes all tweets containing a URL from June 15th through July 22nd of 2009. You can find the list of the 100 most influential news media accounts here (and below).

Most of the major news broadcast networks are present in this list. However, they do not fully dominate it. We see blogs such as@mashable, @bigpicture, @gizmodo, @harvardbiz, among others with very high influence ranking and above major players from traditional media such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

The list also includes the number of followers each account has. The same observation about the weak link between popularity and influence made in the previous post can be made here.

Having a large number of followers does not imply having influence in news social media. Furthermore, not having a large number of followers does not mean lack of influence.

A particularly interesting example is @bigpicture, a photo blog for the Boston Globe; with a mere 23K followers it is the 3rd most influential account on the list. After taking a look at some of the very high quality photographs tweeted by this account it becomes clear why people are willing to re-tweet them and why this account has so much influence.

This demonstrates that to be influential on Twitter news media networks have to keep their audience engaged through valuable tweets and not simply convince people to "follow them on Twitter".

The work on this project was done in collaboration with: Wojciech Galuba (@wgaluba); Sitaram Asur (@SitaramAsur); and Bernardo Huberman (@bhuberman)

Follow on Twitter: http://twitter.com/DanielMRomero

- - -

Number@nameNameFollowersInfluence Rank
1@mashablePete Cashmore203784059
2@cnnbrkCNN Breaking News322447571
3@big_pictureThe Big Picture2366692
4@theonionThe Onion2289939116
5@timeTIME.com2111832143
6@breakingnewsBreaking News1795976147
7@bbcbreakingBBC Breaking News509756168
8@espnESPN572577187
9@harvardbizHarvard Business Rev219039227
10@gizmodoGizmodo111025237
11@techcrunchTechCrunch1402254319
12@wiredWired547187322
13@wsjWall Street Journal366133358
14@smashingmagSmashing Magazine224333360
15@pitchforkmediaPitchfork1494896384
16@rollingstoneRolling Stone133999436
17@whitehouseThe White House1794544448
18@cnnCNN1196719473
19@tweetmemeTweetMeme52386515
20@peoplemagPeople magazine2099081565
21@natgeosocietyNational Geographic274851603
22@nytimesThe New York Times2502914705
23@lifehackerLifehacker62302708
24@foxnewsFox News260081710
25@waitwaitwaitwait32895824
26@newsweekNewsweek1250884844
27@huffingtonpostHuffington Post632555849
28@newscientistNew Scientist144355852
29@mental_flossMental Floss68975874
30@theeconomistThe Economist311109902
31@emarketereMarketer30235906
32@engadgetEngadget135418999
33@crackedCracked.com1106111037
34@slateSlate710911040
35@bbcclickBBC Click17494701041
36@fastcompanyFast Company1482921056
37@reutersReuters Top News1944291119
38@incmagazineInc. Magazine1092561143
39@eonlineE! Online22710261227
40@rwwRichard MacManus10379071232
41@gdgtgdgt205561315
42@instyleInStyle17167861330
43@mckquarterlyMcKinsey Quarterly909811354
44@enewsE! News2797371540
45@nprnewsNPR News2705611572
46@usatodayUSA TODAY Top News627901628
47@mtvMTV6480141714
48@freakonomicsfreakonomics1247511784
49@boingboingBoing Boing486491811
50@billboarddotcomBillboard.com637661818
51@empiremagazineEmpire Magazine333351905
52@todayshowThe Today Show6204131927
53@goodGOOD 4149562003
54@gawkerGawker379802027
55@msnbc_breakingmsnbc Breaking News593752088
56@cbsnewsCBS News15756382090
57@guardiantechGuardian Tech15920672139
58@usweeklyUs Weekly2287282233
59@lifeLIFE.com12703032277
60@sciamScientific American883362373
61@pastemagazinePaste Magazine646422379
62@drudge_reportDrudge Report1005582468
63@parisreviewThe Paris Review221272599
64@latimesLos Angeles Times712872625
65@telegraphnewsDaily Telegraph News173252629
66@abc7ABC7 Eyewitness News363432638
67@arstechnicaArs Technica820512692
68@cnnmoneyCNNMoney.com2195522777
69@nprpoliticsNPR Politics18018712882
70@nytimesphotoNew York Times Photo794432927
71@nybooksNY Review of Books898272966
72@nielsenwireNielsen Wire138402994
73@io9io9121523023
74@sciencechannelScience Channel 825143064
75@usabreakingnewsUSA Breaking News139873120
76@vanityfairmagVANITY FAIR762823182
77@cw_networkCW Network700313183
78@bbcworldBBC World News2628573202
79@abcABCNews.com11199583411
80@themomentThe Moment15805693413
81@socialmedia2daySocial Media Today345163510
82@slashdotSlashdot290113527
83@washingtonpostThe Washington Post1496173636
84@tpmmediaTalking Points Memo154383678
85@msnbcmsnbc.com411553696
86@wnycradiolabRadiolab95913776
87@cnnliveCNN Live392603793
88@davosWorld Economic Forum15087723891
89@planetmoneyNPR's Planet Money813093965
90@cnetnewsCNET News.com757303981
91@politicoPOLITICO837294048
92@tvnewserTVNewser123014427
93@guardiannewsThe Guardian751984665
94@yahoonewsYahoo! News371544668
95@seedmagSeed Magazine98984696
96@tvguideTV Guide5862404757
97@travlandleisureTravel + Leisure840294767
98@newyorkpostNew York Post433344790
99@discovermagDISCOVER Magazine719134816
100@sciencenewsorgScience News756654888


Loren Feldman - The Jester In The Court Of Web 2.0


[From left to right: Loren Feldman with Mike Arrington, Loic LeMeur, Robert Scoble during happier times - photo from Loic LeMeur]

Loren Feldman is the New York City based publisher of 1938Media.com, a fascinating, irreverent and funny critic of the West Coast tech scene.

Loren used to be an insider, a close friend of the princes of the Web 2.0 world: Michael Arrington, Robert Scoble, Loic LeMeur, and others. But Loren has managed to upset all those people, and more; and so have I simply by retweeting some of his comic puppetry.

(I've been blocked and called names because of my re-tweets of Loren's material but that won't stop me. It's a guy with a sock (puppet) on his hand -- people need to lighten up.)

Loren's puppets are hilarious. He has puppets representing Robert Scoble, Loic LeMeur, Shel Israel, Peter Cashmore, Dave Winer, Mark Zuckerberg, Gary Vee, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Steve Ballmer, and more.

Here is an example of Loren Feldman's puppetry: Steve Ballmer's iPad review.



Loren often hits the nail on the head and says things that I hear others saying privately. When he talks about how the West Coast tech scene is so fixated on incremental additions to operating systems; the obsession with the iPhone, iPad; the fact that we have enough technology and not enough useful applications of technology; and the overbearing shouting of some of our leading Web 2.0 evangelists.

The things he says are things that many would love to say but they have to live here, and they don't have a sock puppet to say things for them. Many of the things he says are funny and true.

Truth can be uncomfortable, which is why I get into trouble retweeting his work, and I know people who have gotten in trouble simply for retweeting my retweets of Loren's material (wow).

Court jester...

In my opinion, Loren is playing a key role, the role of the court jester. It's a vital role that keeps influential people humble, honest, and a reminder not to smoke too much of their own stash, drink their own koolaid, etc.

From: Fooling Around the World: The History of the Jester

Irreverent, libertine, self-indulgent, witty, clever, roguish, he is the fool as court jester, the fool as companion, the fool as goad to the wise and challenge to the virtuous, the fool as critic of the world.

The court jester is a universal phenomenon. He crops up in every court worth its salt in medieval and Renaissance Europe, in China, India, Japan, Russia, America and Africa.


Instead of getting mad at Loren we should be seeking out more like him. People get surrounded by minions who agree with everything they say -- that's not a good thing. We get caught up in our own echo chamber and it takes a court jester to pop our balloons, wake us up, slap us in the face metaphorically.

Jesters used to be prized by royalty and they would compete for the best jesters. Queen Elizabeth I of England once threatened her jester because he wasn't harsh enough with her.

Loren can seem to be pretty harsh but that's a subjective reaction; his nature is that he keeps it real. And that used to be a key quality of bloggers -- keeping it real, keeping things authentic. These days such qualities are rare and becoming rarer as commercial interests can take precedence over authenticity.

Loren Feldman is a big critic of many of the things the Web 2.0 crowd finds dear, such as Twitter, which he says is one long river of advertisements as people promote their own work time and again (true - I do it all the time).

Harsh truths aren't pleasant but truth is not harsh it is simply the truth.

The point is not to kill the jester but to celebrate the jester. That's why we need Loren Feldman and 1938media, imho.


Silicon Valley Culture And Burning Man...

{Rebecca Kaplan and team built the above 20-ft metal sculpture for Burning Man which travelled to San Francisco.)

There's a strange hush around San Francisco and the Bay Area. There's fewer people around, there's a little less traffic, and there are parking spots where there are normally none.

This week is the week of the Burning Man festival -- a celebration of abundance, creativity, the arts -- set within one of the most inhospitable places on earth, a place where NASA might test its Mars Rover because of the extremes of temperature, wind, solar radiation and dust storms.

About two hours drive outside of Reno, Nevada, a city of about 50,000 rises up from the bed of an ancient alkali lake where nothing grows. For about a week it is one of the largest cities in Nevada, and then it disappears, leaving no trace.

Residents of what is known as Black Rock City build incredible buildings and art installations. The creativity and ambition of many of the projects is breathtaking. Yet there is no commercial involvement or commerce allowed at the event beyond being able to purchase ice and coffee from a central location.

There are several daily newspapers, several dozen radio stations, and hundreds of theme camps that offer experiences of many kinds, or simply a shady place to escape the sun or the dust storms.

Despite the grandeur of so many installations there is nothing labelled "Sponsored by Google" or "Intel" or "Oracle" yet there are many people from those companies and more, attending every year.

Burning Man's culture of openness, creativity, self-organization, sharing, and innovation plays a key influence in SIlicon Valley's culture, and one has influenced the other, countless times. The idea for the open source movement could very easily have come from the open collaboration that Burning Man started. There is a lot of common culture between the geek engineer community and Burning Man.

Burning Man is part of the mythology of Silicon Valley, for example, it is how Eric Schmidt got his job at Google, by showing up one year and impressing founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, both avid "Burners."

Beach party...

Burning Man grew from humble origins. It started as a beach party in San Francisco in 1986 and then moved to the remote and desolate high desert of Nevada.

The early days were wilder than today, there were no rules. People would set up crazy things such as a drive-by shooting gallery. These days each ticket to the event warns in large letters that participants face possible death but there are lots of rules to prevent death and injury.

But despite some rules, it is still an open event where much of anything goes. And people do die in unfortunate accidents.

A blank canvas...

The vast expanse of the playa -- the empty space at the heart of Burning Man, acts as a canvas for spectacular art projects. My favorite part of the Burning Man experience is cycling across the playa and discovering new art seemingly coming out of nowhere overnight.

The huge playa is like the Internet, a massive blank canvas, a platform for people's creativity. And like the Internet, you often don't know who is behind the projects, or even like some of the projects...

The event is not a weekend getaway. Don't think you can throw a bag in the back of the car and head off to party for a few days because you will likely run into serious problems. Even a little alcohol starts to dehydrate your body very quickly. And many people are hospitalized for thinking Burning Man is just another party town.

If you plan and pace yourself then the experience can be transforming. You spend the day sheltering from the sun and the heat and the dust, and then Black Rock City comes to life as the afternoon sun wanes. The temperature cools and its night becomes as glittering and bright as Reno or Las Vegas.

It has been about 5 years since I last visited Black Rock City and each time it feels very fragile as if it might not be there again next year.

One of the most striking aspects is the lack of commercial messages for an entire week. You only notice it once you leave: the ads in magazines; the advertising on the radio; even the brand advertising on the side of trucks becomes very noticeable and oppressive after a week away...

If you ever get the chance to go, you should take it. The event's temporary nature and spectacle are a good metaphor for our times. And "leave no trace" is a great lesson we can learn from Burning Man.

- - -
Please see:

Burning Man - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Burning Man: What is Burning Man?

If you are headed to Black Rock City this year you should check out "Burning Man Now" and watch for your tweets, photos, etc, showing up on the site.


Women In Tech: Sol Tzvi On Starting A Startup...

[Sol Tzvi is head of Genieo, an Israeli startup. She shares her story of starting a startup.]

By Sol Tzvi, CEO of Genieo

As a young CEO and Co-founder of a startup company I often find myself thinking of the path I chose and the destination I lead myself to.

Thinking of all those lonely times, when I'm traveling around the world in the middle of the night - sometimes even in the middle of nowhere really; crossing the world from one corner to another; scheduling meetings with different people from different cultures; speaking in a foreign language which forces me to concentrate not only on what I have to say but also on how to build a proper sentence, all in the cause of reaching out and touching these different cultures.

This is my idea of living: exploring, learning, teaching others, sharing thoughts and ideas, braking rules and lines I locked myself in years ago without even noticing, growing day by day and becoming the person I am today, re-inventing myself to with every new dawn - every day I am the person I am that day.

Our definition of ourselves as people is based on our past: past behavior, past experiences, past achievements. And yet, is observing a prior behavior really the best approach to understand who we really are? Well, to some extent - yes. But then this could lead us to live in a false impression and view of ourselves. After all, we humans are only trying to simplify complex questions, such as who we are.

Can we really do it?

Story continues...


Media Tsunami: How Much Media Should You Produce? How Much Is Too Much?

How much media content should I produce?

As a professional journalist this has been a question that I've struggled with over the past five years since leaving the Financial Times.

I can produce a lot of media content, and hopefully, it is all quality media content. But my concern is that if I produce too much it will cause my readers and subscribers to switch off because there is too much from one source.

I know that if some of my sources are too noisy on Twitter, Facebook, even on their blog or web site, I will switch them off because it is too much -- even if all their content is good. I don't want my readers doing the same to me.

This question of how much media is too much media is not just my concern, it should be a concern for others, especially companies. I've been writing about how every company is a media company, (EC=MC - the transformative equation for business) how every company has to get better at producing, distributing and responding to media content.

Media is important in establishing companies in their field, it is important in establishing their thought leadership. If you aren't seen by your potential customers then you don't exist.

But we have a media tsunami washing over us and this media tsunami is becoming ever larger as more people and companies discover how to produce ever more media. How do you stay relevant when there is an ever larger media tsunami crashing all around us all the time?

Do you produce more media? Do you add to the media tsunami hoping that your media will be seen as opposed to competitor's media?

The same questions apply to online advertising. And in online advertising the principle seems to be that more is better than less. That's why we are inundated with advertising that crawls across our screens blocking what we want to see; advertising that takes up ever more space on our displays; and advertising embedded in links in copy.

But there is a lesson here. More advertising is leading to less value per advertisement. More advertising is reducing advertising income for many online publishers because there are more places to advertise. More means less.

Does that apply to content? Does more media equate to less value? If a company produces too much media will that tire and turn off potential customers? There were 87 Old Spice videos in one day. Too much? Not enough?

I think it is too much. Even if every piece of media is quality content, I think that dealing with the media tsunami with your own media fire hose is the wrong approach.

No one is listening...

There is a very good lesson to be learned from a recent incident where Leo Laporte, a popular broadcaster, found that his Twitter stream wasn't broadcasting his Google Buzz posts. It took him more than two weeks to notice and he was upset that no one else noticed.

It makes me feel like everything I’ve posted over the past four years on Twitter, Jaiku, Friendfeed, Plurk, Pownce, and, yes, Google Buzz, has been an immense waste of time. I was shouting into a vast echo chamber where no one could hear me because they were too busy shouting themselves. All this time I’ve been pumping content into the void like some chatterbox Onan. How humiliating. How demoralizing.

This incident perfectly describes the media tsunami problem.

Louis Gray, who recently became VP of marketing for My6Sense, an Israeli based startup, wrote about Mr. Laporte's problem. He says it is an issue of engagement.

The person who shouts the loudest can get a lot of attention over a short time, but shouting is hard to listen to for long periods, and it is hard to sustain. You cannot replace engagement, true conversation, a give and take of ideas, and an exchange with a real community.

I agree that engagement is great if you can get it. But the media tsunami means that engagement becomes diluted.

Louis Gray has noticed that "many blog posts are getting no comments to fewer comments. Tweets are not getting replies. Shares on FriendFeed and Google Buzz that once got conversations in times of heightened awareness are lying fallow. Photos on SmugMug and Flickr are getting fewer views."

I think the answer lies right in front of Louis Gray and us all. I think that the right content will come to find us and not the other way around. If you create the right content, relevant to a person, it will find its way to them.

Loren Feldman from 1938Media hits the nail on the head in this quick video: Nobody Is Listening - 1938 Media


If you focus on creating media content that is relevant then it will find its way to the right people. And that will be true for advertising too.

And it will be very difficult to game media content. No amount of SEO or distribution via Twitter, Google Buzz, Facebook, etc will matter. If the content isn't relevant it won't get through to me.

The same goes for advertising content. Imagine a world where your ad copy finds the right targets each time: you won't have to pay huge advertising costs. It will dramatically reduce marketing costs for many companies and they will be able to concentrate on making products and services relevant to their customers instead of worrying about how to reach potential customers.

Will this mean an end to marketing and PR? Probably not but it will reduce their importance.

The technology to do all of that is already here and available from several sources: My6sense, Genieo, and others. These are self-organizing filters, self-organizing curators of content that will bring you the right content at the right times.

We are still at the early stages of deployment but these technologies will come because they can, and because it is the only way to deal with the media tsunami.

- - -
Please see:

Genieo + My6Sense: The Media Tsunami And The Need For Self Organizing Filters...

Genieo's Sol Tzvi: Why Doesn't My PC Know Me?

My6Sense Launches Attention API

My6Sense iPhone App - Insightful Search

2010 Prediction: The Media Tsunami Is Coming...


McAfee Mystery: Intel CEO Prioritizes Security Via Charlie Rose

There has been much written about why Intel offered an astonishing $7.7 billion for McAfee, the PC anti-virus maker.

I've been an Intel watcher for more than 25 years and I'm struggling to make sense out of this deal.

I've also been reading other Intel watchers trying to make sense of the deal. The most recent attempt is by Jon Stokes at Ars Technica: Why Intel bought McAfee

His article doesn't answer the headline but here is a fascinating snippet:

At the most recent Intel R&D day, Intel CTO Justin Rattner did a Q&A session with the press in which he was asked something to the effect of, "What do you spend most of your time working on these days?" Rattner didn't hesitate in answering "security."

He then told an anecdote about how he was watching Intel CEO Paul Otellini being interviewed by Charlie Rose, and Otellini told Rose, "I've given our company a charter to make [security] job one." Rattner laughed and told us that this statement seemed to come from out of the blue, and it took him and other Intel execs by surprise. But from that day forward, Rattner was focused on security.

Wow. Is this how Intel's CEO sets priorities within the company? Is this how he communicates Intel strategy? Through Charlie Rose?

Justin Rattner is head of Intel's research labs. You would think that he would already know what his priority should be directly from the top and not from a TV show.

How did Mr Otellini communicate to the company that its charter was "to make security job one"? Yet for one of Intel's top execs, and his colleagues, it came "from out of the blue."

What's going on at Intel? Does anyone at Intel, apart from Mr Otellini, know?


Startups: Angels Or VCs Or None Of The Above...7 Reasons To Bootstrap

There's been much written recently about angel investors and venture capitalists especially about the rise of the "super angels" such as Ron Conway, Jeff Clavier, Marc Andreessen, etc.

The VC community is disdainful of the angel investors and their puny funds but the angels can go into deals that the VCs cannot because they are too small for the large funds.

Today's entrepreneur has a choice: angels or VCs or none of the above.

It's worth considering the "none of the above" option because startup costs are very low.

Joe Kraus, co-founder of Excite, which was the Google of its day, told me that they needed $5m for a data center when they first started.

Today, with the ready availability of cloud computing you don't need to raise lots of capital to fund your capital costs.

Development costs are cheaper too, with high level languages and development platforms such as Ruby and even development platforms in the cloud from companies such as Engine Yard, development is quick and scalable.

Angels and VCs can be good in terms of getting access to an experienced hand in building a business, helping to recruit the right people, even mundane things like finding office space.

But a good network of mentors or board directors/advisors could provide similar help without the ownership and other terms that outside investors demand.

Bootstrapping is a viable option

Many startups could achieve a lot with just the founders pooling their credit cards for a year or so and then seek expansion capital, maybe with debt.

Sramana Mitra, writing in Forbes, says there is an assumption that only mom-and-pops businesses can be built with bootstrapping:

How very wrong! Ask Frank Levinson and Jerry Rawls of Finisar whose bootstrapped venture went public at a $5 billion valuation. Or ask Christian Chabot of Tableau Software, who raised his Series A from NEA at a $20 million pre-money valuation by bootstrapping the early stages, when typical valuations for that round are in the $2 to $5 million range.

From: Why B-Schools Set Up Entrepreneurs To Fail

This is a good time to reprint one of my favorite guest columns, written by serial entrepreneur Greg Gianforte, CEO of RightNow Technologies:

Seven Reasons Not To Raise VC capital
By Greg Gianforte

Raising venture capital for early stage start-ups seems to be the prevailing path for most entrepreneurs; however, most would-be founders should reconsider.

Here are some reasons why:

- If you start by selling your concept to potential prospects (rather than stock to VCs), you will either end up with initial customers or a conviction that your idea won't work. Why raise money and then find out which one it will be?

- Raising money takes time away from understanding your market and potential customers. Often more time than it would take to just go sell something to a customer. Let your customers fund your business through product orders.

- Adding VCs to the mix early gives you an additional set of masters you must serve in addition to your customers. It is always hard to serve two masters, especially in a startup.

- With no money you can't make a fatal mistake. This is a blessing. Without VC money, you are forced to figure out how to extract funds from your customers for value you deliver. Ultimately that is the only thing that really matters.

- Money removes spending discipline. If you have the money you will spend it - whether you have figured out your business model and market or not.

-Raising VC money determines your exit strategy. You will either sell the business or take it public. What if you end up with a very profitable, modest sized business that you want to just run? That is no longer an option once you raise VC money.

- You sell your precious equity very dearly before you have a proven business model. This is the worst time to raise money from a valuation perspective. I know this is a contrarian view. And some of you are saying that might be fine for a small company.

Don't forget Dell, HP, Microsoft all originally started without VC funding; you can build a big business with bootstrapping and without VC money. At RightNow, we doubled our revenue and employees every 90 days for two years before we took any outside money, and even then the employees retained more than 75% ownership after raising $32m.

Greg Gianforte is the author of:

"Bootstrapping Your Business: Start and Grow a Successful Company With Almost No Money."


Innovation At Risk: We Need Competition To The Luddite Telcos . . .

We won't be able to have net neutrality/open Internet because the Telcos will always have the right to prioritize their own services over their own networks.

So let's have real competition to the Telcos.

But the US has Luddite Telcos. The US has some of the slowest broadband and the least penetration.

A recent FCC report found that there are 14 million Americans without access to any high speed Internet service.

S. Derek Turner, Research Director of Free Press, a lobbying group advocating universal access to communications, said:

"The facts present a sobering reality of our broadband problem. We pay far too much for far too little, and the lack of meaningful competition among Internet service providers leads to delayed investment and slow technological progress."

The Telcos control the features available in smartphones often dumbing them down. That's Luddite behavior.

The Telcos have no real competition. As Danny Sullivan over at Search Engine Land points out:

The mobile marketplace... where providers unilaterally add on $10 surcharges just because you're using a smartphone, regardless of you actual data usage?

Where you can't take your expensive device and go elsewhere?

Where they deliberately cripple parts of a smartphone's OS?

Where they decide to charge you more for using your device as a modem even if that usage still comes under the same data cap as allowed by native use of your device?

If we can't have net neutrality then let's have more competition. But where is that competition going to come from?

Building a new Telecom infrastructure is expensive. Potentially, WiMAX could vault over the Telco walls but WiMAX rollout is slow and its performance is patchy. Plus, you need the customer facing support component and the billing relationship, which is labor intensive.

Another solution is to adopt open network policies as in Europe, where Telcos are forced by law to offer their platforms to third parties. But there is no way Congress will pass such a "socialist" law, especially with the Telco lobbyists making huge contributions to political campaigns.

Silicon Valley startups are in danger

Four years ago I warned that if the situation with the Telcos isn't changed it will impact Silicon Valley startups. We need competition not net neutrality otherwise Web 2.0 dies on the vine

Three years ago I wrote:

"Last mile = Golden Mile. This Telco/Cable cartel sits smack-dab in the middle of Silicon Valley's innovation efforts. The Telco/Cable cartel control the communications gateways, they control the wireless services, and they are the most backward element in our society in terms of resisting technological progress in the US."

In today's NYTimes.com, Brad Burnham and Fred Wilson, partners at Union Square Ventures, an early stage venture capital fund wrote: A Threat to Startups.

Between the lack of any protection on the wireless side and the qualifiers and complexity on the wireline side, young startup companies will have difficulty finding financing and building businesses of scale. If an Internet access provider discriminates against a startup directly or through its network management practices, it is unlikely the startup could afford a long and expensive process to seek redress. So this proposal favors the incumbent applications and access providers.

I can't see an easy way out of it.

Luddite Telcos seem bent on keeping us in the Internet dark ages with slow connections and expensive services that will drive innovation out of the US. Government regulation has no teeth and our politicians have incentives to keep the status quo.

Where are Cisco, Intel, HP, IBM on net neutrality?

You would think that the infrastructure providers: Cisco Systems, Intel, HP, IBM, EMC, etc would be all be big supporters for more competition in Telco markets but they remain quiet. They would sell a whole lot more kit if there was more competition.

I once asked John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, why doesn't Cisco criticize Telco policy and come out with support for more competition in Telco markets? He smiled and said, "We support all of our valued customers."

But surely Mr. Chambers, and the heads of the other tech giants, have a fiduciary duty to maximize shareholder profits?

An open Internet with healthy competition would do wonders for sales. Yet where is their voice?

Net neutrality threatens GOOG, et al...

It is worth pointing out that Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have little to gain from net neutrality. I explained in a post from May, 2006:

Why risk an open and neutral Internet and become vulnerable to smaller, swifter competitors? Yes, right now GOOG, YHOO and some of the others move reasonably fast in some markets, but as they grow larger they won't be as nimble.

If you are a well established Internet services company such as GOOG, it doesn't pay to expose yourself to any disruptive, innovative startups. Why make it easy for your future competitors by fighting for their right to a neutral Internet?

That is why you should not look to GOOG et al, to save the Internet from the gatekeeper telcos and cable companies.

The big boys can afford to pay the Telcos and in exchange the Telcos keep the startups at bay. If I were a shareholder of Google, I'd be against net neutrality and I would campaign for Google to make deals with all the Telcos.

It's clear that's where Google is headed anyway...

The situation for startups and innovation in the US doesn't look good. Maybe it is time to relocate Silicon Valley elsewhere.

- - -

Please see:

Tom Abate: Speed Bumps on the Information Highway

Net Neutrality: The shareholders of the IT tech giants are losing out to the "valued customers"

Corporate Luddites: Cable and Telcos versus Silicon Valley - SVW

Analysis: Bad News For Startups If ISPs Start Charging Google - SVW


The Fly On The Wall And Its Social Effects - A Short Story From The Near Future...

We live in a world of ubiquitous computing -- there are ever more computing devices everywhere.

We will soon live in a world of ubiquitous video cameras. You probably have one staring at you right now just inches away from your face -- the camera in your laptop or desktop.

There are video cameras on street corners, business premises, highways. The Brits have the most video cameras per head of population but other countries are catching up. The CCTV technology is cheap to install and operate.

Consumer video cameras are cheap and getting cheaper and better quality. A Flip HD camera from Cisco is under $200 and there are consumer HD video cameras for under $100. HD video is found in smart phones, such as the iPhone 4. Soon, every phone will have a high quality video camera, and not just phones.

The circuitry and the mechanism for a HD video camera is tiny. It can be fitted into ever smaller formats, such as pens: Brookstone sells a video spy pen for $99.95, and there are cheaper versions available elsewhere.

As computers become more ubiquitous so will video cameras. It won't be long before there are video cameras all around and in places where we aren't used to having them.

It won't be long before we have always-on video cameras operating in all our social spaces.

Imagine living in a world where nearly every conversation, every meeting, every step you take in the physical world is recorded and archived in the cloud.

If you knew that every conversation with your kids, with your parents, with your friends -- was possibly being recorded and stored -- would you think twice, maybe thrice about what you had to say?

The Facebook effect...

We have become used to the possibility that all our online conversations and interactions are recorded and stored somewhere. We are much more guarded about what we say or do online.

But we think of our offline conversations and interactions as mostly personal and private. We don't exhibit the same cautious behavior offline as we do online.

If I meet a friend walking down the street and stop to chat for a few minutes -- I'm pretty sure that that conversation and meeting isn't recorded.

That won't be true in the near future. And it won't be because of government "Big Brother" surveillance. It will be because of personal surveillance devices that people will carry out of choice for personal protection.

It will be as if there is always a "fly on the wall" watching and recording everything.

People will carry what I call a "personal fly" -- a personal security device containing a tiny video camera fitted into a pendant or broach, embedded in clothing, earrings, or in eye glasses.

If you are attacked it will have video and audio records of that event.

Why will people carry a personal fly? Because they can, and because the technology will be cheap enough and good enough to be used as a very effective personal security device.

A personal fly...

A personal fly will be able to wirelessly record many hours of video and audio onto a flash memory chip; some "flies" will use the cell phone in your pocket to send continuous video and audio data to a cloud-based storage service.

If you were mugged, your personal fly would record the event and police could use its images and audio to track down the mugger.

- A criminal could try to destroy the flash card storing that video -- but since some personal fly devices send their data into the cloud, a criminal could never be sure that destroying the chip covered their tracks.

Thus, all people wearing a personal fly would be protected as if they were all storing their data off-corpus.

- A personal fly might even be equipped with a panic button alerting the police, and local public surveillance cameras to retain their video footage to track escaping assailants.

- Children will be a prime market. Parents will use these inexpensive personal security devices to protect their kids. It might even be considered neglectful if parents didn't protect their children with such devices.

- Adults will wear a personal fly throughout the day for protection. At the end of the day, or week, the video collected could be erased, or not, depending on what settings you keep

-Telcos will market them as part of the many wireless applications and services they provide.

- Manufacturers will produce different types of personal fly, in different disguises, and with an array of capabilities.

I have no doubt that these types of personal security devices will prevent many attacks and other types of criminal acts.

(BTW, I'm working with potential partners on manufacturing this concept -- let me know if you'd like to chat.)

The social fly...

What interests me is how such personal security devices (PSDs) will affect our behavior in our social spaces. What will be the new manners?

- Will it be rude to wear a personal security device at a dinner party?

- WIll it be rude to ask someone to turn off their PSD?

- How can you know if someone's PSD is on or off? (You can't know for sure...)

- Will it be rude to archive all your recordings?

- Will it be illegal to use a PSD in situations without informing all persons in the vicinity, similar to getting consent to record telephone conversations?

- Will we need new laws?

- Will people getting together, have to sync up their personal archive settings and come to some kind of agreement over recording their conversation -- before any conversation takes place?

- How will we behave in our social spaces knowing that everything we say is being recorded and possibly archived for many years?

- How will kids grow up with such personal surveillance systems? Parents will likely want to peek into how they do in the classroom, their conversations with friends, etc.

Stunted conversations...

The number of personal attacks is rare but people's fear of them is much larger, and that will drive the sales of these devices.

Surely, it will have a chilling effect on our society and our behavior...

The threat here is not from "Big Brother" but from each other; we will constantly be aware of a shadow haunting all our interactions, recording everything we see, hear and say. We will always be on guard, second guessing ourselves in all our social interactions

Surveillance by Big Brother is less scary than surveillance by each other, by people you know and know you.

- Say goodbye to casual drinking or anything at casual at parties.

- The opportunities for mischief by disgruntled friends and lovers are immense.

- The question of trust between friends and family members will be tested to the extreme.

- Living in an ambient surveillance world policed by the people around you is going to be challenging.

These things can't be good. But they will happen because they can.

Welcome to your future.

- - -

[If you like this post you might like some of my other posts, collected in my new book - In My Humble Opinion: Notes from a Silicon Valley Watcher - available in paper or electron.]


Pearltrees: The Latest Mark Hurd News In Real Time...Here

Latest Mark Hurd News
I'm discovering new uses for Pearltrees, a cool media technology from a French startup I've been working with the past few months.

Above, you can quickly browse the latest news on Mark Hurd from ZDNet, Techmeme, Google, and specialist commentators. This Pearltree is dynamic, you can add it to your Pearltree account (free) and it automatically updates in real time.

Let me know what you think of Pearltrees. I've got more uses for it coming up...


HP Twitter Study: Weak Link Between Popularity And Influence


I'm a big fan of Bernardo Huberman, director of HP Labs' Social Computing Lab, and the work of his team. HP has been applying rigorous scientific practices to the study of social media and it has a gold mine of research open to the public.

It is worth emphasizing that HP's studies are designed to the highest scientific standards; they are not isolated case studies or the musings of a "social media expert." They typically involve the study of very large numbers of people and thus they reveal some fundamental aspects of our increasingly online culture, and our common humanity.

The latest study from Dr Huberman and team is on what makes a Tweet or a Twitter user influential. More than 22 million tweets were analyzed and it has led to the creation of the IP Algorithm, which measures the influence and passivity of Twitter users.

The study found:

- Most Twitter users are passive, they do not re-Tweet.

- There is a difference between popularity and influence. High numbers of followers does not equal influence because those followers do not re-Tweet.

- To become influential, Twitter users must somehow persuade their followers to re-Tweet.

To measure influence, the study looked at how much traffic a Tweeted URL received, using the Bit.ly shortening service, which also tracks clicks.

From the paper Influence and Passivity in Social Media - HP Labs Research:

This reveals interesting implications about the relationship between a person's popularity and the influence she has on other people. In particular, it shows that having many followers on Twitter does not imply power to influence them to even click on a URL.

The Conclusion:

Given the mushrooming popularity of Social Media, vast efforts are devoted by individuals, governments and enterprises to getting attention to their ideas, policies, products,and commentary through social networks.

But the very large scale of the networks underlying Social Media makes it hard for any of these topics to get enough attention in order to rise to the most trending ones.

Given this constraint, there has been a natural shift on the part of the content generators towards targeting those individuals that are perceived as influential because of their large number of followers.

This study shows that the correlation between popularity and influence is weaker than it might be expected.

This is a reflection of the fact that for information to prop-agate in a network, individuals need to forward it to the other members, thus having to actively engage rather than passively read it and cease to act on it.

Moreover, since our measure of influence is not specific to Twitter it is applicable to many other social networks.

This opens the possibility of discovering influential individuals within a network which can on average have a further reach than others in the same medium regardless of their popularity.

Foremski's Take:

The fact that this study's findings can be applied beyond Twitter is fascinating, especially applied to the work of PR and advertising firms.

For example: If a PR firm succeeds in placing a story abut a client on a popular news site, it means little in terms of that story being influential and reaching potential customers, investors, or others.

Popularity and influence are two separate issues. Targeting the right media outlets based on influence is more important than the popularity of any one publication.

The same can be applied to online advertising. Advertising agencies buy "numbers" when placing ad buys. But they should be concentrating on targeting in regards to influence.

The HP study shows that there is a significant arbitrage opportunity for those PR and advertising firms that understand the distinction between popularity and influence -- and know how to act on it.

- - -

Please see SVW:

Twitter Study: Interview With Bernardo Huberman, HP Social Computing Labs Chief


HP Study Shows Twitter Predicts Success Of Movies

Thought Leader - HP's Bernardo Huberman: Studies Of Mass Social Behavior On The Internet


HP Labs: A Gold Mine Of Original Research Into Online Social Behavior

HP Labs : Research: Social Computing Lab

Video: Social Dynamics In The Age Of The Web


The Stunning Achievements Of PayPal Alumni...

Sarah Lacy reports:

... Google has agreed to buy Slide for $182 million, in a deal to be announced Friday. And sources also tell us that this is not the last move Google is going to be making to cobble together a serious social gaming and apps strategy to counter Facebook.

... No word on whether Slide founder Max Levchin will be joining Google or what his continuing role will be. $182 million is a nice exit no doubt, but it’s a come down from Slide’s $500 million valuation in 2008. And Levchin has said many times that success to him was Slide becoming bigger than PayPal.

In the comments of Sarah Lacy's story there is much discussion whether Slide is a failure for Max Levchin, the founder.

I'm sure he made money. But Slide is just one small part of Max Levchin's story. He's had many failures. He was in 6 startups before he struck it rich with PayPal. It's the life of an entrepreneur.

He still has Yelp and other companies such as Adroll. And he is young -- just 35. He has plenty of years to make more PayPals.

I'm a fan of Max Levchin and his colleagues. He and the rest of the "PayPal Mafia" made a ton of money when EBay bought PayPal for $1.5 billion. And they've been ploughing much of that money back into Silicon Valley, founding and financing dozens of new companies.

They have used their experience and money to Angel fund and lead many successful companies: YouTube, FaceBook, LinkedIn, Tesla, Zynga...are just a few examples.

And they are all still relatively young, and in the peak of the their form. I expect a lot more of the same from all of them.

Here is a partial list of the PayPal alumni and some of their achievements:

- Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn and a very successful angel investor: Facebook, Ironport, Digg, Flickr, Ping.fm, Last.fm, Zynga.

- Peter Thiel and his hedge fund Clarium Capital. Not all of his bets have paid off but he is investing and funding some interesting organizations.

- Elon Musk - Head rocket designer at SpaceX and CEO of Tesla.

- Steve Chen - Youtube co-founder.

- Chad Hurley - Youtube co-founder.

- Premal Shah - founding president of Kiva.org.

- Jeremy Stoppelman - co-founder and CEO of Yelp.

- And there are plenty more in this group: Dave McClure, Jared Kopf, Eric Jackson, Kieth Rabois, Ken Howery...

I created a Pearltree that has more info and lists more people:

PayPal Alumni


Silicon Valley PR Firms! Send Me Your Pearltree For My Directory...

The last couple of months I've been working with a very cool French startup called Pearltrees in an advisory capacity. It's part of my nascent consulting services business which helps me continue publishing and funding Silicon Valley Watcher.

I'm a big fan of Pearltrees because it is a fascinating media technology. It allows anyone to curate their own section of the web by using a visual metaphor that looks very much like mind maps: users create a Pearltree and attach pearls to it; each pearl represents a web page or site, a video, image, or even a Tweet.

With so much content on the Internet it is becoming very important to identify trusted sources of information and to have people curate sections of the Internet. Google tries to do it by looking at trusted sites and who links to who but it is constantly fighting spammers trying to game the sysem -- the Pearltrees approach is spam-proof.

Pearltrees are also very social, they are extremely easy to create and share. They can be Tweeted, emailed, or embedded in any web page or web document, creating a live window (see below).

One of my goals is to build a Pearltree about Silicon Valley so that people can quickly find the best information about this region. As part of that project I have put together a Pearltree that acts as a directory of Silicon Valley PR firms.

People looking for a PR firm can browse my Pearltree and hopefully find a compatible business partner. In the short space of time since I created the Silicon Valley PR firms Pearltree it has had nearly 2300 views.

But I'd like to improve it. I'd like each PR firm that does business in the Silicon Valley/Bay Area to create a Pearltree about their business and send it to me.

If you are in PR here are some reasons why you should make a Pearltree about your company:

- It puts you, rather than me, in control of the information about your firm.

- You are the one that receives notifications on who has shared it or picked it for their collection of Pearltrees.

- You can see and respond to comments on your Pearltree.

- You can be creative about how you build your Pearltree.

- By creating your own Pearltree it shows you as the author rather than me.

- You can use your Pearltree for communications with clients. Again, being in control of the information in your Pearltree is key.

- This is the important part: each Pearltree is dynamic. Any changes are updated in real-time everywhere that Pearltree is used. You won't have to wait for me, or rely on me, to update a Pearltree about your company.

Here are two examples:

I created a Pearltree for the Horn Group:

Horn Group
It shows clients, newsroom, blog, contact info etc.

Because each Pearltree is controlled by the author, each firm can be creative about how it organizes their Pearltree. For example, in this Pearltree about The Hoffman Agency, there are links to client web sites that Hoffman might like to highlight, rather than just a simple client list.

The Hoffman Agency (Demo)
So please send me your Pearltree. It's the simplest way to get into my Silicon Valley PR directory. And also, send me the categories that you would like to be included in. Email foremski at Gmail or send it to me through Pearltrees.

And if you are an independent PR professional/consultant, send me your Pearltree too.

You can show who you work with, your past and current clients, and whatever else you'd like to include, such as your LinkedIn profile, portfolio, etc.

- - -

It's a very flexible technology and I can think of a variety of ways of using it.

For example, using Pearltrees as a media kit. Here is a Pearltree about an Intel press event, containing links to media assets such as video, and also the resulting press coverage.

Example Press Kit
And Pearltrees has lots of great new features coming very soon, including a private version that controls who can view it; and a community version that enables teams to collaborate on a Pearltree.

It's also great as an organizational/research tool. I've used it for a book project, and I'm exploring other uses, including an online store.

I use it for business and for recreation, such as this Pearltree about the upcoming Outside Lands music festival in Golden Gate Park so I can get to know some of the acts before the event.

 Ouside Lands SF 2010 
The beauty of a flexible media technology such as Pearltrees is that you can be the first person to use it for a particular task. It's like making the first footprints in fresh snow :)

So please send me your Pearltrees so I can include them in my PR firms Pearltree directory. And send me examples of any new uses you come up with.

Just click here to start: http://www.pearltrees.com/


MobyNow: A Media Platform For Fractured Media...

Mathys van Abbe, one of the top entrepreneurs from the Netherlands, is in town this week. He's the founder of Moby Picture, the largest European photo sharing site.

He has also recently launched MobyNow, which is a media platform for bringing together all the social media that is represented in the photos, videos, Tweets, blog posts, etc, that people post around a subject.

It's a great media platform for any media organization, or any company or group that wants to create a live site that reconstitutes all the fractured media around a topic or subject.

For example, Holland MobyNow was created in just one day, to aggregate all the postings, photos, etc around Holland's final World Cup games. The site was an instantaneous success with more than 270,000 views and three large sponsors signing up from a single Tweet!

Mathys has some interesting statistics here on his blog: Over 575k social media updates were aggregated by Holland MobyNow during the Worldcup final.

There are MobyNow sites set up around sports teams and Mathys is also talking with Hollywood studios and large companies interested in setting up similar sites.

It's a great idea because Moby is able to take advantage of the relationship it already has with hundreds of thousands of users of the Moby Picture site. It can use those relationships to effortlessly link people up and their social network accounts, with each other, and with new users on new sites.

This underlying social networking technology is already being used in more than 750 other applications.

For example, a baseball team such as the Oakland A's could host a MobyNow platform on its own site, featuring the pictures, video, Tweets, blog posts of its fans, all in real-time. The content is fresh, and fans are happy to see their postings featured on the main site.

I can think of plenty of uses for the MobyNow platform. It represents a next stage in web site development: bringing together all the fractured media that exists in social networks, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc. It's also a way for the core brand to celebrate all the ways people show their appreciation - plus they are also aggregating all the pageviews - very important for media companies where page views are the new currency.

I'm looking forward to seeing all the many ways this platform can be used.

- - -

Additional Info:

- The Rabo cyclists and their progress in the Tour de France combining geo-loco data: RaboSport

- TMF awards MobyNow platform

- Launching the first MobyNow Real-Time Web platform


Genieo + My6Sense: The Media Tsunami And The Need For Self Organizing Filters...

It was great to catch up with Sol Tzvi, co-founder and CEO of a fascinating startup called Genieo. She's in town this week for meetings with several large companies interested in her company's technology.

Genieo installs on a PC and it helps you find all the news and information that is relevant to you from all your sources. It does this without needing any keywords or any specific settings from the user, and it works across all your computers and smartphones so it never duplicates content already seen.

I first met Ms. Tzvi earlier this year: Genieo's Sol Tzvi: Why Doesn't My PC Know Me?

Genieo is one solution to the media tsunami that is building into towering proportions.

The media is not dying, we now have more media, in more forms, at more times of the day and night than at anytime in our history -- and there's more to come as individuals and companies learn how to use inexpensive media technologies to produce and share masses of content (87 Old Spice videos in one day...). (Every company is a media company.)

Using old style filters to try and manage all this content won't work: it requires sophisticated algorithms that can manage all of this for us, transparently and in the background. These algorithms must also bring to us serendipitous content - the stuff we didn't know was there and thus can;t search for - another reason why traditional keyword filters are of little use.

Last week I met with another favorite entrepreneur, Barak Hachamov, co-founder of My6Sense - an iPhone application that seeks to do the same as Genieo but takes a different approach.

Mr Hachamov says that there is tremendous interest in the My6Sense API. Many companies are very eager to add My6sense capabilities to their online services. I can't reveal the names of the interested parties but they are household names.

There are other companies that have similar capabilities but different approaches. One of these is Sidebar, which offers technology for e-commerce sites serving mobile users.

These are all part of a very important trend because without such solutions we will drown in the media tsunami, and we won't be able to find the content that we want to see. Without such solutions the Internet is a giant mess where search doesn't help much: search only works if you know what to look for.

We need systems that know us and work for us.


UPDATED: Google Exec Says It's A Good Idea: Open The Index And Speed Up The Internet

When I was in Brazil recently, I met with Berthier Ribeiro-Neto, head of engineering at Google Brazil. During our conversation I mentioned an idea I had about making the Google index into an open database that anyone could access, I said that this could dramatically speed up the Internet.

He said it was a good idea and that I "should write a position paper" on this subject.

(As a further thought, maybe it could also serve to take away some of the heat Google is feeling lately, in terms of its index rankings potentially favoring its own business interests.)

Here is my logic:

Looking at my server logs shows that 20 different robots visit my site, one of the more frequent ones is the Googlebot. Each of these robots is trying to create an index of my site.

Each of these robots takes up a considerable amount of my resources. For June, the Googlebot ate up 4.9 gigabytes of bandwidth, Yahoo used 4.8 gigabytes, while an unknown robot used 11.27 gigabytes of bandwidth. Together, they used up 45% of my bandwidth just to create an index of my site.

These robots are all seeking the same information and they use nearly one-half of my bandwidth, slowing the site for all my readers. This is also the same for tens of millions of web sites.

What if there was a single index that anyone could access?

You would get an immediate speed increase in the Internet for no additional investment in infrastructure.

Google and others, could perform their own analysis of the index using their secret algorithms. After all, the value is not in the index it is in the analysis of that index.

Mr. Ribeiro-Neto said, "That's a good idea. You probably wouldn't even need to spider the web sites."

Each web site could update the central index automatically each time something changed. This would result in a massive savings in bandwidth used by dozens of robots scouring the Internet for new information.

What if Google opened up its index to the world as a goodwill gesture because it has the best index? It could still maintain the privacy of its algorithm but everyone would have the same information on which to perform their analysis.

It would show that there was nothing unusual or unethical in how Google collects information for its index. This might relieve some of the pressure it has come under this week to reveal more about how its search service is presented.

Also, Google founders were once strong advocates that the search index should be run as a non-profit.

On page 39 "Inside Larry and Sergey's Brain" by Richard Brandt (referral link).

Andrei Broder, who led the team that created the AltaVista search engine, the best of its time, talks about meeting Larry and Sergey. "When the discussion turned to the topic of making money from the technology, Broder found that Page had a profound difference of philosophy on the subject. "It was a very funny thing about Larry," Broder recalls. "He was very adamant about search engines not being owned by commercial entities. He said it should all be done by a nonprofit. I guess Larry has changed his mind about that."

Brian Lent, now CEO at Medio Systems:

"The problem with the Google search engine at the time, Lent recalls, is that Larry and Sergey didn't want to commercialize it, and Lent was anxious to become an entrepreneur. Their mantra at the time was more socialistic than entrepreneurial. "Originally, 'Don't be evil' was 'Don't go commercial,'" says Lent.

- - -
UPDATED:

Don MacAskill, CEO of SmugMug writes:

Great idea! Google *should* open their index! « SmugMug's Don MacAskill

... I would estimate close to 50% of our web server CPU resources (and related data access layers) go to serving crawler robots. Stop and think about that for a minute. SmugMug is a Top 300 website with tens of millions of visitors, more than half a billion page views, and billions of HTTP / AJAX requests (we're very dynamic) each month. As measured by both Google and Alexa, we're extremely fast (faster than 84% of sites) despite being very media heavy. We invest heavily in performance.

And maybe 50% of that is wasted on crawler robots. We have billions of 'unique' URLs since we have galleries, timelines, keywords, feeds, etc. Tons of ways to slice and dice our data. Every second of every day, we're being crawled by Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc. And those are the well-behaved robots. The startups who think nothing of just hammering us with crazy requests all day long are even worse. And if you think about it, the robots are much harder to optimize for - they're crawling the long tail, which totally annihilates your caching layers. Humans are much easier to predict and optimize for.

Worst part about the whole thing, though? We're serving the exact same data to Google. And to Yahoo. And to Microsoft. And to Billy Bob's Startup. You get the idea. For every new crawler, our costs go up.

We spend significant effort attempting to serve the robots quickly and well, but the duplicated effort is getting pretty insane. I wouldn't be surprised if that was part of the reason Facebook revised their robots.txt policy, and I wouldn't be surprised to see us do something similar in the near future, which would allow us to devote our resources to the crawlers that really matter.

Anyway, if a vote were held to decide whether the world needs an open-to-all index, rather than all this duplicated crawling, I'd vote YES! And SmugMug would get even faster than it is today.

Please see:

- The NYTimes: The Google Algorithm

- FT.com / Comment / Opinion - Do not neutralize the web's endless search (Subscription required.)


Google Says That Employees Change Search Rankings

Richard Waters in an article at FT.com (Subscription required):

Groups magnify chances of Google hits

Companies with a high page rank are in a strong position to move into new markets. By "pointing" to this new information from their existing sites they can pass on some of their existing search engine aura, guaranteeing them more prominence.

This helps companies such as AOL and Yahoo as they move into the low-cost content business, says Mr Bonnie. "They can use their Google page rank to make sure their content floats to the top," he says.

Google's Mr Singhal calls this the problem of "brand recognition": where companies whose standing is based on their success in one area use this to "venture out into another class of information which they may not be as rich at". Google uses human raters to assess the quality of individual sites in order to counter this effect, he adds.

I've known about this for several years but wasn't able to get anyone from Google on the record. These Google employees have the power to promote or even completely erase a site from the Google index.

This admission is potentially a very large problem for Google because it has maintained that its index rankings are unbiased and are computed from a natural pecking order derived from how other sites find a specific site important.

The Google algorithm is a mathematical expression drawing on the PageRank patented method (named after Larry Page, co-founder). It counts how many links to a web site come from other web sites and determines the importance of that web site for millions of search terms. These rankings are worth huge amounts of money to many web sites and changes in rankings can put companies out of business.

Google is currently being sued by several companies claiming bias in Google results.

Scott Cleland, whose blog "The Precursor" has been critical of Google, writes:

"... this first-ever disclosure by Google that "human raters" manually discriminate in the "quality scores" that determine a website's supposed neutral and unbiased search ranking, exposes a rats nest of conflicts of interest that Google has in its "black box" business model."

He says that antitrust authorities are bound to ask key questions such as:

"If links are a factor in determining the rank of content, and Google's advertising revenue is derived from sites' search rankings, how does Google ensure the human raters of the SDB are not influenced to reward Google-owned content or Google partners' content that Google revenue shares with?"

It's a huge can of worms.

EE Times Relaunches With An Army Of Moderators

Monday evening I was moderating a panel on social media in the semiconductor industry and one of the panelists was Paul Miller, CEO of EE Times Group, a large electronics trade publisher with 1.1 million electronics industry decision makers.

EE Times this week completed a relaunch with a strong emphasis on user content. It has 70 moderators with a goal of recruiting more than 400 moderators.

"We're putting user content at the same level of importance as editorial content," said Mr Miller. "We are the only ones doing something like this."

The move reflects the importance of readers trusting the opinions of other readers. "Engineers like to help each other. But it is important to have high quality content and that's why we believe moderators are important to our success."

EE Times is an interesting media company to watch because it is one of the old school publishers, nearly 40 years old. It has worked hard to reinvent itself and it seems to be paying off.

"We're having our best year in a decade," says Mr Miller. "The pendulum has swing back towards what we are doing and companies are beginning to spend again."

EE Times Group has bolstered its business through many savvy acquisitions. Since 2007, Mr. Miller has spent more than $50m on acquisitions that include events and also a legal services firm in the IP area.

I mentioned that when people ask me what the new media business model will be I say it is a "Heinz 57" model -- 57 varieties of revenues.

"I totally agree," he says. "Some people think Africa is one country but it's a large collection of countries and cultures and that's how varied our business model has become."

He also said, "Content creation is hard. Finding interesting things to write about is very difficult. I have a new appreciation for content creators and we have begun hiring back some people as editors."

- - -

Additional Info:

EE Times unveils network redesign, resurrection of Electronic Buyer's News |

EE Times launches new website | Napier News

Paul Miller (Stumpy1964) on Twitter


MediaWatch Monday: Newspaper Paywalls Are Freemium Business Models

Newspaper paywalls have been criticized by lots of people in the Geek communities and also by popular journalism bloggers such as Clay Shirky, Jeff Jarvis and Jay Rosen but they follow the best practices of "Freemium" business models used by thousands of tech startups.

Freemium has been a successful strategy used by many tech companies. Please see: Emergence Capital: Profitable Lessons From Freemium Business Models - SVW. And: Case Studies in Freemium: Pandora, Dropbox, Evernote, Automattic and MailChimp

Freemium is based on a simple plan: give away a great service for free and up-sell some users to a paid subscription service.

Yet strangely, newspapers are facing huge amounts of criticism for trying to follow a freemium business model.

Clay Shirkey at The Guardian:

"Everyone's waiting to see what will happen with the paywall - it's the big question. But I think it will underperform. On a purely financial calculation, I don't think the numbers add up."

Jeff Jarvis at BuzzMachine:

"Rupert Murdoch has declared surrender. The future defeated him. By building his paywall around Times Newspapers, he has said that he has no new ideas to build advertising."


Surely, it is good for newspapers to explore new business models and they should be encouraged. I've long been an advocate of what I call a "Heinz 57" business model for newspapers. Their future will be defined by how well their publishers can manage multiple revenue streams from a range of sources from advertising to virtual currencies.

Please see: The "Heinz 57" Media Business Model - SVW

Tim Gentry, head of optimization and effectiveness at the Guardian:

"It's all about working out what's right for different businesses. There isn't one right and one wrong path, the fact we are committed to keeping our main site free doesn't mean we don't charge for some digital features."

David Mitchell's recent column:

Rupert Murdoch may be evil, but that doesn't mean his paywall is. The media mogul has been dismissed for introducing his Times paywall, but what if it actually works?

If newspapers are to survive they should be encouraged to try many business models.

- - -

Freemium


Saturday Post: The Beatnik To Blogger Connection...

It's interesting that blogging started off in the San Francisco area because here, there is a long tradition of new forms of writing. I've long been fascinated with the literature of the Beatniks -- a word coined by San Francisco columnist Herb Caen in 1958.

Here are a few of my prior posts exploring the Beatnik to blogger connection.

For a long while I've felt a strong connection between the culture of the Beat generation and the Blogging generation. Both celebrate a raw and passionate expression, and a use of language that is both novel and designed to snag the reader's social sensibilities.

Both communities found themselves at the forefront of major changes in their societies. And both took advantage of a lapse in the controls that societies usually place on publishing outsider ideas.

In October 1955 Allen Ginsberg performed his "Howl" poem for the first time in public at the "6poets at 6 Gallery" in San Francisco.

The performance was in a dilapidated storefront on Fillmore Street in San Francisco. Yet this small event had a huge effect on the entire country. It eventually led to a show trial on obscenity charges and propelled a small writers colony, dubbed "Beatniks" by San Francisco columnist Herb Caen, into media superstars.

This period of the late 1950s was a tumultuous one because of the escalating Cold War. Although the Beatnik writers had begun developing their ideas and their works in the late 1940s, it was now that their seed fell on fertile ground. Their message of rebellion and a world gone mad was now easily understood and the mechanisms of mass media enabled it wide distribution.

The Beatniks were mostly white middle and upper class kids and completely out of odds with the confined culture that limited nearly all forms of artistic expression. It's a familiar story to us today, of youth in rebellion, but there is much more about the 1950s that is familiar too.

The Second World War had created a massive government propaganda machine with help from newspapers, radio, TV and Hollywood. This seemed necessary during a time of war but it kept on going after the end of the war, and it created a belief that there was a permanent state of war - the Cold War. It's similar to our "unending" state of war against terrorism.

The writers of the Beat generation were initially apolitical, amoral, and hedonistic. That was all you needed to be a rebel in those days. They found they could shakeup society simply through their hedonism, their joy in the creation of literature; and the overall exploration of the edges of our mortal experience.

In the mid 1950s there was a thaw in the Cold war and this helped thaw American society and helped it discover the Beat Generation.

This thaw showed itself in events such as the Hungarian uprising in 1956, which led to liberal reforms in neighboring countries and a general cultural and artistic renaissance.

1956 is the time when my parents managed to escape Poland. There was a slight raising of the Iron Curtain that divided Europe. For the first time Poles were allowed to visit Western countries. My parents queued up for three days, (not to buy an iPhone) to get onto the first organized vacation trips to Vienna, Austria.

They were part of a group of 60 tourists. And once they were in Vienna, they and their friends snuck away in the middle of the night and took a train to Salzburg where they turned themselves in as political refugees.

They were housed in one of the refugee camps still in place from the war. Six months later I was born in that refugee camp and six months later we left for London, where I lived until I moved to the US in 1984.

This period of my parents' escape from Poland and the Beat Generation's newly found success came during a time when there was a global lifting of the normal restraints on politics and the arts.

By the mid-1950s McCarthyism had run its course and the Beatniks found themselves in the vanguard of a new culture, and become a new intelligentsia that felt able to challenge the rules of the day and win. That challenge came in the form of an authentic literature that still holds its power.

Today [March 2006] blogging challenges the rules of today -- is it journalism? Is it rubbish? Is it a new literature? Is it all those things?

I used to think blogging might be a subset of literature, a cousin to journalism. Now, I think of it as a superset of all other forms of writing because all other forms of writing can fit into its format.

We are entering another period of big changes, just as in the late 1950s, and blogging is the most revolutionary and most exciting literature to emerge since the Beat Generation, imho.

- - -

I get to meet the son of Neal Cassady, the most fascinating character of the Beat Generation...

It's a warm Wednesday evening in North Beach, San Francisco, and it is Neal Cassady's 80th birthday, and the remnants of the Beat generation, including Neal Cassady's son John are inside a small storefront.

The event also marked the opening of the Beat Museum. I've lately become very interested in the Beat generation, the mostly East Coast/New York intellectuals that came to San Francisco in the 1950s and were chosen by the media to represent the rebellious youth of those times.

From Wikipedia:

"The members of the Beat Generation were new bohemian libertines, who engaged in a spontaneous, sometimes messy, creativity. The beat writers produced a body of written work controversial both for its advocacy of non-conformity and for its non-conforming style..."

The Beat Generation influence has lasted a long time, reflected in the Hippie and Punk cultures, and I see its influence in blogging too.

The Beat Generation created a literature that was passionate, raw and emotional. Blogging can be like that too.

I've become interested in Neal Cassady who was somewhat of a mysterious character because his writings are rare. Yet Neal Cassady became a very important muse for many, influencing the writings of many of the Beat Generation such as Jack Kerouac, Michael McClure, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and in later generations Ken Kesey, Tom Wolfe, Hunter S. Thompson and many more. Yet Neal Cassady did not write much himself.

What makes him even more interesting is that Neal Cassady was not of their world -- the privileged, well educated, middle class world of the Beat Generation's intellectuals. He was a working class kid, or rather a skid row kid.

When he was six he came under the care of his alcoholic father, a part-time barber, and lived with him in Denver's skid row. These were depression times and brutal to families living on the edge. He learned the survival skills of a hobo, train hopping, etc.

I had just finished reading a book by Neal Cassady, called the "The First Third" so it was great thrill to chat with his son John.

John Cassady looks to be in his mid-50s, white hair, lots of energy, and he talks a mile a second. I asked him about the book. "That was something we found in the corner of his closet, very little of his writing survived. But I'll tell you what happened to his writings...I don't think this story has been published yet."

Brilliant. A potential scoop.

John tells me that most of his father's written work was lost when he parked his car for two weeks at a friend's place then took off for two or so weeks of carousing -- in the very same North Beach neighborhood that we are standing. When he returned to pick up his car it was gone. And so was nearly all of his father's literary work.

Wow. I wondered if they might still exist in some garage, attic or in the trunk of some car in a junkyard.

John Cassady went on to tell me about how the term "Beatniks" was hated by his father and his friends.

John adds, "The bongo playing, dressed in black, and beret wearing Beatnik was a complete invention of the media. The closest they got to bongos was one time at a rent party just around the corner from here. ...[A rent party charged a modest admission to help the hosts pay their rent]. Jack (Kerouac) was handed some bongos and he noticed the skins needed tightening so he went to the kitchen and lit the gas burner to heat and tighten the skins. He was distracted and he burnt right through the skins."

More stories followed and then Wavy Gravy showed up and held court, telling more stories as people passed a jug of red wine around... Neal Cassady would be very pleased.

- - -

Evelyn Rodriguez, a blogger friend at Crossroads Dispatches, found a fascinating essay about writing authored by Jack Kerouac. In it you can see some of the connection between Beatnik and Blogger.

Here is an extract of Jack Kerouac's writing advice from "Essentials of Spontaneous Prose." It's worth reading the essay in full.

PROCEDURE Time being of the essence in the purity of speech, sketching language is undisturbed flow from the mind of personal secret idea-words, blowing (as per jazz musician) on subject of image.

METHOD No periods separating sentence-structures already arbitrarily riddled by false colons and timid usually needless commas-but the vigorous space dash separating rhetorical breathing (as jazz musician drawing breath between outblown phrases)--"measured pauses which are the essentials of our speech"--"divisions of the sounds we hear"-"time and how to note it down." (William Carlos Williams)

SCOPING Not "selectivity' of expression but following free deviation (association) of mind into limitless blow-on-subject seas of thought, swimming in sea of English with no discipline other than rhythms of rhetorical exhalation and expostulated statement, like a fist coming down on a table with each complete utterance, bang! (the space dash)-Blow as deep as you want-write as deeply, fish as far down as you want, satisfy yourself first, then reader cannot fail to receive telepathic shock and meaning-excitement by same laws operating in his own human mind.

- - -

There are more posts like this in my new book:

In My Humble Opinion


The Lack Of Tech IPOs Is Holding Back Job Expansion Says Leading VC

Robert Ackerman, a leading Silicon Valley venture capitalist and founder of Allegis Capital, says that tech IPOs will remain scarce and that this will curtail job creation in the US.

A continued scarcity of tech IPOs means that the Obama Administration won't be able to count on Silicon Valley startups to help spark a job boom and help alleviate tough economic conditions for millions of unemployed.

Mr. Ackerman told SVW, "These days, tech startups have to rely on being acquired by a larger company once they reach a certain size because there isn't an IPO market to help them recapitalize and grow to the next stage. The largest expansion in jobs for a young company comes in the period after an IPO. If a company is acquired it doesn't lead to the same job growth."

But tech IPOs are unlikely to return to their former high levels because the infrastructure that supported and financed them has changed.

There used to be many boutique investment brokerages that had analysts following companies and sectors. After the dotcom bust many of those boutique brokerages disappeared or were acquired and now there is a massive shortage of analyst coverage. Without analyst coverage there is little liquidity in the trading of shares of small companies, and this discourages larger investors.

Mr. Ackerman said, "In 2007 we sold IronPort to Cisco for $830 million. This is a company that could have easily gone public but we chose to sell it. The lack of analyst coverage was a large factor in that decision."

Sarbanes-Oxely is another issue. Young companies have to bear the very large costs of compliance, reducing their earnings, which makes them look less appealing to investors.

And there are significant challenges in attracting investors in startups because of tax policies.

Mr. Ackerman has spent a lot of time in Washington, D.C. meeting with politicians and lobbying for the VC industry, seeking favorable tax benefits that would encourage investment in innovative companies. He says that venture capital is being regulated in the same way as hedge funds and private equity funds, which is wrong.

"Washington is trying to regulate the risk out of everything. We need policies that encourage risk taking, that encourage risks by entrepreneurs -- that's the way to create jobs."

He says that one staffer admitted to him that, "We don't really understand the issues around investing." His reply was, "That's fine but then don't pass legislation about issues you don't understand."

He is also highly critical of US immigration policies because they restrict US access to the world's most talented people. Attracting the best human capital is essential to maintaining US innovation yet many foreign-born top graduates of US universities are forced to return home.

"Every advanced degree issued by a US university should come with a green card attached," he says. "Otherwise we will lose our lead in innovation to China and India. Investment in startups is already pouring into those countries and it wont be long before it overtakes the US."



Oriella Survey: Journalists Are Working Harder, Better, Faster, Longer

The Oriella PR network concluded its third annual survey of journalists. This year the survey was expanded beyond Western Europe to Eastern Europe, the US and Brazil. More than 770 journalists in 21 countries responded.

Here are some key findings:

- Nearly half of the respondents (46 percent) to this year’s study said they are expected to produce more content than before.

- One in three (30 percent) are working longer hours.

- Nearly half (46 percent) said their work has improved as a result of digital and social media – an increase from 39 percent in 2009.

- Just 17 percent said their job satisfaction had declined as a result.


Many have concerns over the economic effects on their profession:

- Forty percent of the respondents expect advertising revenues to fall by more than a tenth.

- Over half of the respondents expressed the belief that their publications’ current offline formats may fold at some point in the future (2009 figure: 32 percent).

- 40 percent – and more than half of those polled in the U.S., the U.K., Spain, Brazil and Eastern Europe - believed that the transition to new media would create new opportunities.

Their employers are looking for new forms of revenue:

- growing numbers of publications are researching, or have implemented paid-content strategies. Nearly one respondent in four (22 percent) said their publication is researching or has launched smart phone apps in order to deliver paid-content to mobile users.

- 16 percent are researching paid-content for iPads and e-readers.

-Twenty-five percent said their publication is considering flat-rate subscriptions and nearly a third (30 percent) only offer online content to existing print subscribers.

- Fewer than 15 percent of the journalists surveyed said their publications support no social or digital media at all – down from nearly a quarter two years ago.

- Adoption of blogs and Twitter has continued to grow, with 47 percent saying their publications have journalist-authored blogs, and 40 percent saying their publications use Twitter.

Shannon Latta, co-head of the Oriella PR Network and partner at Horn Group, said: “It is clear that publications see the greatest opportunities in their digital operations – not just in terms of offering new platforms for publishing content, but also in terms of making that content pay.”

Ms. Latta added:"As these changes play out in newsrooms, communicators should expect journalists to become more demanding: their content needs to be high quality to attract the revenues media bosses expect."

Her conclusion that journalists will be focused on high quality content runs counter to the current pressure on journalists to "pump" stories out and the move toward large scale "content farms" where large amounts of low quality content is created.

The problem with the current page view economic model is that a page view is a page view and there is no reward for quality.

(The full report can be downloaded from: www.orielladigitaljournalism.com (registration required).)
Additional Info:

The Oriella PR Network is an alliance of 17 communications agencies in 20 countries around the world.


Are Silicon Valley High Fliers Sucking Up All The Talent?


Google, Facebook, Twitter, even Yahoo are all hiring at a rapid rate. The following chart form Indeed shows a hockey stick hiring binge. Are they making it difficult for thousands of Silicon Valley startups to find the engineers and other talent they need to grow? Let me know: foremski at gmail.com.

google, facebook, twitter, Job Trends graph


The Telcos Hate Silicon Valley (And San Francisco)

I first came to San Francisco/Silicon Valley in 1984 and over the years I've marveled at how behind the times this high tech region of the world truly is when it comes to broadband access and cell phone networks.

You would think that the world's capital of high tech would be well served with great broadband and also great cell phone connectivity. Yet it's not.

The same cell phone black spots are still in the same spots year after year; we have the same lack of broadband access in most areas of the Silicon Valley region.

And even though there are many vocal complainers nothing much changes. For example, because there are now so many iPhone users in this region you get to see a lot of chatter and complaints about AT&T's network. Yet AT&T could avoid all this negative publicity if it simply invested more in its network here, and elsewhere such as New York and LA, where the chattering classes of the digerati Tweet and blog.

A relative small investment in key regions and much of AT&Ts negative publicity would pretty much disappear, even if the problems were shifted to other parts of AT&T's network. The digerati don't really care about the the middle states, for instance, AT&T could pull some money from there and invest it in the places where people have the loudest complaints - here. But it doesn't.

For years people living in Silicon Valley have complained about the lack of broadband, and how they can't get decent cell phone coverage in their homes, or have to stand in the street to get a signal.

This all has to be deliberate - how else to explain ignoring such an influential region. There has to be a systematic policy by the Telcos to make sure that Silicon Valley has some of the worst connectivity in the US and that this poor state of connectivity is maintained year after year.

It's statement by the Telcos that says, "We are in control, you can't disrupt us Silicon Valley, with your fancy shmancy technology, and your startups. Try calling your Congressional representative on your cell phone."

I've often said that the Telcos are modern Luddites, interested in keeping us a decade or three behind the rest of the world because it's profitable. The US Telcos charge some of the highest rates in the world for phone, mobile, and cable TV (France Telecom for example, charges just 30 Euros ($37) for all three, I can't get one service for that price.)

The Telcos hate Silicon Valley because it wouldn't take that much extra investment to make sure it's wired right.

How else can it be explained?


IMHO: We Are Becoming Nomadig...


Mobile, fragmented, and unrooted. These days our culture is becoming more mobile because we are more mobile.

We have a vast torrent of mobile digital devices and the infrastructure to allow us to be on the move constantly, to become more nomadic.

We are no longer tied to the desktop PC, nor to the laptop; and we can have access to our digital lives from nearly any device anywhere, anytime and anyplace. Anything with a browser and an Internet connection allows us to access our applications and our files, and our networks of colleagues, friends and families.

We are becoming digitally enabled mobile/nomadic peoples. Airliners will fly the equivalent of the entire population of the earth in the next three years.

We are also more mobile in our thinking, more able to spot the obstacles to progress that regional based gender, ethnic, and economic divisions create.

Is this a return to our nomadic roots?

The first humans lived as nomads for more than 100,000 years, that's how humans spread and colonized new regions, moved across glacial wastelands, and found passes through massive mountain ranges.

Papa was a rolling stone, wherever he laid his hat was his home; and papa before him, and on, and on, into our common ancestry. It's in our blood.

We seem to be going back to our roots and becoming nomadic peoples again -- or maybe it's "nomadig" people: nomads living in digitally enabled groups.

We are no longer tied to a specific geography, and nor is our thinking. We can easily pull up and move from the West coast to the East coast or anywhere else. And we can easily collaborate in teams across huge geographies and multiple time zones.

We often travel thousands of miles in the course of a month, a week, even a day. It doesn't matter where we are physically, we can still maintain our family connections, friendships, and business contacts.

We're in constant motion yet we remain rooted within our online worlds as if we hadn't budged an inch. Our physical address changes more often than our online address.

We're nomads again.

- - -

If you liked this post you can find another just like it next Saturday at 4pm PDT, and also in my new book:

In My Humble Opinion


Saturday Post: The West Coast Corridor: 1400 Miles Of Innovation - Disruptive Creation On The Fault Line

California has by far the largest number of tech workers. According to TechAmerica Foundation's Cyberstates 2010 report, it has 993,000 tech workers, and its largest center is Silicon Valley.

But it's not just Silicon Valley that impresses me. If you fly north along the West Coast starting at San Diego, take a look at what you'll be flying over:

- San Diego, with its large communications, biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. This is where Qualcomm is based, the world leader in mobile communications technologies.

- Orange County has a very large number of electronics companies. This is where Broadcom, one of the largest chip companies is based.

- Hollywood with its massive entertainment businesses, all incredibly creative and innovative (3-D movies, animation, etc).

- Santa Monica, where the entertainment industry and technology combine to produce leading online media ventures. This is where Yahoo, AOL, and many others have large centers.

- Silicon Valley and San Francisco, with its huge number of tech, biotech, clean tech companies.

- Portland, Oregon, a rapidly expanding tech community anchored by Intel, which is larger here than its HQ in Silicon Valley.

- Seattle, Washington, with Microsoft and all the other tech companies and aerospace.

- Vancouver, British Columbia, and its large software and graphics technology companies.

From San Diego to Vancouver, you'll be flying along a narrow corridor 1400 miles long, packed with some of the world's most innovative and creative communities.

I can't think of any other region anywhere in the world that is crammed with so many incredibly successful companies, generating so many ground-breaking technologies, decade after decade...

But that's not all...

This West Coast Corridor of innovation, is sitting on top of one of the most unstable fault lines in the world. It's the western edge of the North American Plate, part of the Ring of Fire, where 90% of the world's earthquakes occur, and where 75% of all volcanoes are found.

It's one of the most disruptive geological zones on the planet.

Is there a connection between living in an area of such abundant innovation and where physical reality is disrupted so often?

I've always believed that innovation must contain a strong disruptive element otherwise it's not really innovation.

- - -

Backstage Pass- Tom Foremski says disruptive tech linked to fault lines - Sky's Blog

If you liked this post you can find another just like it next Saturday at 4pm PDT, and also in my new book:

In My Humble Opinion


SDForum: My FastPencil Book - "In My Humble Opinion"

The SDForum Awards marked the launch of my first book: "In My Humble Opinion - Notes From A Silicon Valley Watcher." Here is Susan Lucas-Conwell, CEO of SDForum, (and its heart and soul) introducing my book!


The book was commissioned by FastPencil.com, a fast growing online book publisher in Silicon Valley, which has some great social media collaboration tools.

I'd like to thank Steve Wilson, CEO of FastPencil, and Ms. Lucas-Conwell from SDForum, for their generous support, and especially: Seana Norvell from FastPencil, whose patient persistence made this project a reality.


In My Humble Opinion

I'll be publishing extracts from the book next week.


Bill Gates' Nightmare: Web Apps That Perform As Well As Native Apps...

(MSFT executives preview Internet Explorer 9 in San Francisco while Gabe Rivera from Techmeme watches.)

Microsoft previewed Internet Explorer 9 this morning, which has strong support for HTML5 and makes use of hardware acceleration to dramatically improve the performance of video and animation.

Microsoft executives said that web browsers normally only use about 10% of the power of a computer. “We want to make the other 90% available to web applications so that they have the same performance as native applications,” said a Microsoft representative.

The demos showed very high performance of the latest version of Internet Explorer compared with Firefox and Chrome because of the hardware APIs that make use of graphics co-processors in the system. A Microsoft representative said that this approach can dramatically speed up the web browser performance of low-end netbooks and other systems because the technique makes use of graphics co-processors instead of software based decoding of video and graphics.

Future Firefox and Chrome will also be able to make use of the hardware APIs.

What was especially interesting was that Microsoft is trying to provide web applications with the same performance as native applications.

This is exactly the nightmare scenario that Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, feared would happen, that the web browser could substitute for the operating system, and that's why he aggressively went after Netscape Communications in the 1990s, resulting in an anti-trust conviction against Microsoft.

Although Microsoft is still making use of its Windows operating system combined with IE9, it potentially separates the browser from the underlying platform.

This could enable non-Microsoft operating systems and non-Intel compatible hardware platforms to run high performance web applications at native speeds.

It’s unclear if Microsoft intends to move in that direction but it has certainly opened a Pandora’s Box with its support for graphics hardware accelerated web browsers.

Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst at Insight 64, said that tablet platforms based on ARM microprocessors, making use of graphics hardware accelerated web browsers, could become very competitive with notebook and netbook platforms based on Intel chips.

“Market research firms such as Gartner are still tracking tablet sales along with PCs but this is clearly a different class of computer,” said Mr Brookwood. Apple’s iPad is based on a custom ARM microprocessor.

Intel’s Atom is positioned as a competitor to ARM but it has failed to win any significant customers, and Atom isn’t customizable in the same way as ARM chips. Intel had an agreement with TSMC, the world’s largest chip foundry, to produce custom versions of Atom but it could find no customers, largely because Intel reserved the right to approve customers.

This provision was in place to prevent Nvidia, the world’s largest discrete graphics chip maker and a competitor to Intel in graphics, from using Atom in custom chips. But it also was a deal breaker for other companies.

ARM, based in the UK, has no restrictions on who is allowed to use its designs.

Mr Brookwood said he expects Google to produce a version of ARM optimized for Android operating system smartphones, and tablet computers. In April, Google acquired chip company Agnilux, which is staffed by engineers from PA Semiconductor, a company Apple acquired to build its A4 ARM custom chip used in iPad and in future iPhones.

More info:

Microsoft’s next web browser will display rich 3D graphics (demo videos) | VentureBeat

Intel Wrestles ARM For Smartphone Markets With Latest Atom

Analysis: Intel Faces Challenge In Smartphone Markets As Alliance with TSMC “Fizzles”


Google Dislikes Marketing And PR - Which Is Why Its New Services Fail

Google has had a long string of failures. It encourages its engineers to spend 20% of their time developing side projects but when those projects reach launch stage, their take-off is nearly always very disappointing.

Take a look at some of Google's failures.

Colin Gibbs reporting on GigaOM:

    • Google Lively was a web-based virtual environment that allowed as many as 20 people to sit in a virtual room and chat with each other. The offering debuted in July 2008 only to have Google pull the plug a mere four months later.

    • Google Print Ads was dropped earlier this year after the company's vision of bringing web-like automation to the world of traditional media failed to materialize. The effort went belly-up just three weeks before the death of Google Audio Ads, which ended a three-year run in February after the company failed to gain traction in the radio ad game.

    • Google Answers spent a year in beta before a full-blown launch in May 2003, but the effort to create a fee-based knowledge market never gained much traction outside a small base of users and the service was dropped in late 2006.

    • The social networking site Orkut launched early in 2004 as an independent project of noted Google developer Orkut Büyükkökten and has caught fire in Brazil, a market that accounts for roughly 50 percent of its membership. The site reportedly claims roughly 100 million users, which is impressive, but Google can't be happy that its effort is virtually unknown in Europe and North America while Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and others have gained such impressive traction.

    • Google Catalog Search debuted in 2001 as a way for consumers to go online to check out their favorite print catalogs that had been scanned and uploaded. Of course, retailers were already taking their inventories online themselves, and the effort was put to rest earlier this year.

    • Google Health was released as a beta test in May 2008, but the service has yet to find much of an audience among insurers or the general public. Which may have something to do with the combination of the words "health" and "beta test."

    • The location-based service Dodgeball was shut down in 2009 after Google had acquired it four years earlier, and while Google continues to operate Jaiku - a social networking service it picked up in 2007 -- the company has effectively abandoned the project. The technologies and expertise from both startups is being incorporated into other Google businesses and projects, however.

I can easily add a lot more to this list. Google Video; Google's acquisition of Jot; Google Wave; Knol; Checkout; Catalogs; Base; Squared; and Google Buzz could be the latest.

Google has tremendous scale so it is puzzling to some why so many of its services should have been such failures. But, it isn't that surprising if you consider its culture because Google believes that good products will find their users based on their own merits.

What Google fails to recognize is that it needs to assign marketing support. Without marketing support it is wasting the cream of its engineering talent.

Have you seen any marketing for Google services beyond an occasional text ad?

I've never been contacted by any PR companies, or Google corporate comms people to talk about a new Google service or product. Yet I receive countless such invitations from smaller companies trying to get media attention.

Google's failure to recognize the need for effective marketing is deep rooted within its engineering culture. Engineers don't believe in marketing. Many software engineers will deride a company's success (e.g Apple) as "it's just marketing." It makes it seems as if "marketing" is something that can be easily acquired and put to good use.

But marketing is not easy, and successful marketing is not a commodity (it's interesting that software engineers are (becoming) a commodity...)

Google's own success grew out of a non-marketing approach; Google search was simply a better product. Google is proud that it didn't use marketing to become a success.

But times are different today. There is a tremendous amount of media already on the Internet and this level will rise to a media tsunami as companies and individuals make full use of their media publishing capabilities. The media tsunami will drown less able companies, products, and services.

Effective marketing is going to become ever more important, and more expensive, simply because the media tsunami is raising the bar for everyone to stand out.

Company culture is very difficult to change and it changes slowly and that's why Google will continue to launch new services, and it will continue to fail because it doesn't understand the need for follow up marketing and PR.

And that means it will continue to remain a one-trick pony.


IBM Study: Millennials And The New Corporate Leaders - Social Responsibility Is Essential

Irving Wladawsky-Berger, a former senior executive at IBM, responsible for strategy, reports on two recent studies: 1500 face-to-face interviews with CEOs: 2010 Global CEO Study; and 3,600 mostly 20 to 25 year old undergraduates and graduates in 40 countries: Inheriting a Complex World: Future Leaders Envision Sharing the Planet.

The students were asked many of the same questions as the CEOs.

This made it easier to look for commonalities and differences between these two generations - one at the top of their careers, the other about to start out on theirs.

The students are from a much different world than the CEOs.

These students have no nostalgia for a simpler era, because they never knew one. They grew up in a complex world. They intuitively understand the tenets of globalization.
. . .
More than 90 percent of the students we surveyed were born after 1980, so for them, games, music, mail and data have almost always been digital. They came of age in a world of interconnections, even hyperconnections.
. . .
They understand implicitly and intuitively that economies, societies, governments and organizations are made up of interconnecting networks. Once viewed as discrete and independent, it is clear now that these spheres - both manmade and natural - connect in a myriad of ways. We may not have even needed to define complexity: they seemed so familiar with the term for an interconnected, multifaceted environment."

There were some similarities between the responses of both groups:

"Overall, creativity was the leadership quality most frequently selected by both groups. Students and CEOs alike viewed creative leadership in terms of disrupting the status quo and taking bold rather than incremental steps.


But there were also strong differences...

... that were entirely consistent with students' values about sharing the earth. Among the nine leadership traits CEOs and students could choose from, students placed a higher emphasis on only two leadership qualities - global thinking and a focus on sustainability. Students were 46 percent more likely than CEOs to view global thinking as a top leadership quality. And they were 35 percent more likely to include sustainability in the top three."
Beliefs about globalization and sustainability were even more defining. We found students were much more concerned with these issues than CEOs, and most importantly, saw them as inherently connected."
...
Based on their comments, it was clear that students view globalization and sustainability as intertwined themes. They believe that a global citizen has responsibilities to others in the world, and that an emphasis on sustainability makes one better appreciate the impact of globalization.

"Students' views were stronger than CEOs on every one of the ten questions relating to these topics, and, as their comments made clear, called for bold and immediate action. They spoke about a new relationship among societies and business, economies and governments, and the need for a new definition of 'value' on what they see as a shared planet."

When asked for the top three factors that will impact organizations, 23 percent of CEOs mentioned globalization and 21 percent environmental issues, ranking them number 6 and 7 among their top issues.
For students, globalization was the highest ranked issue, voted on by 55 percent. Environmental issues were voted on by 42 percent of students and ranked fourth.

The IBM study concluded that universities are behind the times in educating "students in the wider meaning of sustainability, to reflect not just environmental concerns but also the economic, social and cultural implications."

And companies "need to be very sensitive to the increased expectations in corporate social responsibility of this new generation."

More here: Irving Wladawsky-Berger: Growing Up in a Complex World


Tech Firms Choosing San Francisco Over Palo Alto

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that tech firms have become a chief driver for office space in San Francisco.

Tech firms making S.F. new home

Many of the tenants are swelling homegrown businesses like Twitter, while others are relocating from Silicon Valley or outside the Bay Area. As of June 15, 83 technology companies were in the market, seeking 1.5 million square feet of space, up 51 percent since the financial crash in fall 2008, according to brokerage firm Jones Lang LaSalle, which regularly tracks the market.

Zynga, the social gaming company, is one of the largest companies looking for San Francisco office space, as much as 300,000 square feet. Twitter has expanded six times and is looking for about another 100,000 square feet.

The lure is low prices and engineering talent.

South of Market rents that are about half of Palo Alto's right now, the desire to cluster near success stories like Zynga and Twitter and the broader shift to the Web 2.0 world.

...

When David Sacks, chief executive of Yammer, asked his developers whether they should relocate the microblogging service for businesses to Palo Alto or San Francisco, the latter won hands down. This represents a distinct shift from a decade earlier when he was chief operating officer of PayPal in Palo Alto.

"There's a lot more engineering talent living in San Francisco now," he said. "The balance of power may have shifted."


Brazil Diary Conclusion - From Sao Paulo To Rio...

View from Cesar Park hotel, Ipanema, Rio de Janiero.

(I'm back from Brazil and finishing up with some observations and conversations from my recent trip visiting with Brazilian IT companies.)

Brazil, like many developing countries, has a First World country attached to a poor country. Brazilian IT is very sophisticated and world class. We attended a very large trade show focused on banking technology services. It looked the same as any trade show in the US.

After Sao Paulo, we took the evening flight to Rio de Janeiro. The Brazilians in our group were perking up visibly as we took the coach from the airport to our hotel. The Brazilians love Rio, one of them explained that it's the equivalent of Miami, a place where people work hard so that they can play hard.

We couldn't see much of Rio because it was night but you could hear thump and the swoosh of the surf from the beach (Ipanema) across the street from our hotel.

I had a great conversation at diner with from John Dohm, VP with True Religion. It turns out he was an early collaborator with Ray Kurzweil on his first book about the Singularity (please see: Is "The Singularity" The Elite Geeks' Version Of "The Rapture"?) But isn't much of a supporter anymore.


The next day we met with government officials and heard about the many financial and tax incentives given to companies that invest in the state of Rio de Janeiro. We also heard about Brazil's thriving economy, the eighth largest and growing 4 to 5% a year; it's on track to become the fifth largest economy in the world by 2014 when it hosts the World Cup, (pushing out Italy).

- That evening we celebrated the end of the trip with a short cruise around the bay. When the samba band started playing, the Brazilians in our group become very excited and started dancing. "This music is our proudest export," one of them said.

- Alfredo Neves, Director for Global Clients and Finance at CPM Braxis, said that Brazil's work culture has changed a lot and that there are even small startups funded by angels. It used to be that finding a job working for the government was the top goal for many Brazilians and if you passed a key exam, you would be employed for life. But that's changing and people want to work for private companies.

- I spoke with Heloisa Pereira, one of the organizers from SP4 Communications, and also studying for a PH.d in Sao Paulo. Her thesis is on cyber culture. She's looking into the phenomenon of Brazilians adopting the online persona of famous people, for example, Demi Moore. She says that there are huge numbers of people on social networks in Brazil with fake personas. Some are more popular than the "real" people.

But she concedes that by the time she finishes with her PH.d in four years time, things might have changed completely. Cyber culture can have a very short lifespan.

She says that Brazilians without PCs will spend an hour or more a day at Internet cafes to keep up with their social networks. Google's Orkut is far more popular than Facebook in Brazil.

- I was impressed with Brazil and its people. It was surprisingly European and very urban. Brazilians tend to live in large cities, Sao Paulo has about 23 million people, making it the third largest city in the world.

- The food is surprisingly European too, with strong Italian and German influences. I couldn't find a single spicy dish.

- Sao Paulo is where business in Brazil happens, it's New York. And the "Paulistas" are proud that it's where business gets done.

- Sao Paulo isn't one bit as glamorous as Rio, which is the media and cultural capital of Brazil, but it does have a lot of cultural activities, with theater, films, art galleries, etc. "You can find lots of things to do every night."

It was great to meet UK journalists Mark Hillary, and Angelica Mari I wanted to thank the hard work of the organizers of the trip, Thais Trapp, and the many others; and I look forward to further contact with Brazil and its tech sector.

- - -

Brazil and Tech
Please see:

There's a Lot of IT in Brazil: Brasscom And The South American IT Industry - SVW

Interview: Berthier Ribeiro-Neto Head of Engineering at Google Brazil

A Pearltrees Report On Brazil's Tech Sector Growth

Brazil Diary Day 1: It's A Long Way To Brazil...

Brazil Diary Day 2: The World Is Flatly The Same...Is Sao Paulo A City From The Future?

Global IT Outsourcing: Here Is How Brazil Can Differentiate Itself


Killer Marketing: Spirited Vigil Outside Apple Store SF

I went to the vigil for dead Foxconn workers outside the Apple store in San Francisco Thursday evening, organized by the Chinese Progressive Association.

Chris Knight from Cohn & Wolfe came with me and snapped some pictures (above and the next one.)

There were about 50 people, a lot of high school kids, taking part in the demonstration and handing out leaflets that urged people to email sjobs@apple.com (using an iPad in the store!).

The leaflet asked that Apple work with Foxconn to adopt more humane production schedules; to facilitate the formation of a trade union; and improve overall working conditions.

The message was to tell Apple "you expect better." Or, as I like to put it, Apple should "Think Different - Think Fair."


Please see:

"Think Fair" A Potential Apple Follow Up to "Think Different"

Analysis: Here's How Apple Could Become The First Fair Trade Tech Company

Foxconn Suicides: Is It Time For "Fair Trade" Electronics? Would You Buy A "Fair Trade" iPhone?


Loren Feldman - East Coast Critic Of Tech Media Worth Following

I’m a big fan of Loren Feldman and his 1938Media site because he calls the Emperor's new clothes more often than anyone I know.

He is not everyone’s cup of tea but there are many people that support his views but can’t come out publicly because of their position in PR, or within tech companies, where support for Loren could be used against them, and has been used against them. Merely retweeting someone else retweeting a Loren post has gotten at least one person I know into trouble.

He also has a hilarious sock puppet show series that spoofs many well known personalities.

Puppets

Dave Winer

Julia Allison

Larry and Sergey

Loic

Mark Zuckerberg

Mike Arrington

Pete Cashmore

Salaam E. Baloney

Scoble

Shel

Steve Ballmer

Waltr Kronkyte

Loren is part entertainer, part astute commentator, especially on the West Coast tech scene, and the publications that cover them. He has been critical of Michael Arrington, the publisher of Techcrunch many times, and also of “Business Insider” the New York city based publication edited by Henry Blodget, the infamous Merril Lynch analyst; a superstar analyst of the dotcom boom years but now barred from the securities industry.

Here is Loren Feldman’s latest post critical of Business Insider and Henry Blodget. I recommend you follow him on Twitter: http://twitter.com/1938media


You Have To Be Joking... Steve Case Ridicules AOL's $850m Bebo Buy

I couldn’t believe this:

Steve Case, the former head of AOL Tweeted:

“AOL buying Bebo for $850 million and then selling 2 years later for $10 million doesn’t seem like a winning strategy.”

Is this a (Steve) case of a pot calling the kettle black?

The merger of AOL and Time Warner is one of the greatest failures in M&A history.

New York Times May 2009:

When the merger was announced in 2000, the two companies had a combined market value of more than $300 billion.

By the time the deal was consummated in 2001, with Internet stocks plunging and recession taking hold, that had fallen more than $100 billion. Today, the combined market capitalization of Time Warner and the new Time Warner Cable is less than $40 billion.

Steve Case has a nerve criticizing the Bebo buy…

AOL/Time Warner went from $300bn to $40bn. Today Time Warner is worth $19.7bn and AOL is $2.4bn. Combined worth is $22.1bn. Wow. That’s a far, far, bigger loss than Bebo.

Steve Case initiated the Time Warner deal. And it was a great deal for AOL and for him. He walked away with a lot of money.

You would think with such a disaster on his resume, Mr. Case would refrain from commenting on the AOL/Bebo deal. Clearly, Mr Case’s hubris distances him from AOL’s subsequent adventures. Company culture is set by its leaders, imho.


Is "The Singularity" The Elite Geeks' Version Of "The Rapture"?

Intelligent_Design.jpg

The Singularity is a belief that our technology will inevitably collide with our biology, and that this will give us mastery over our mortality.

We will be able to cure diseases, stop our aging, and also control our senses with augmented created experiences. The resolution of those augmented experiences would be indistinguishable from the natural world.

We will be able to create a reality that is indistinguishable from our "natural" reality. We will be able to choose the "matrix" as Hollywood knows it (Singularitans hate that term).

. . .

Ashlee Vance in the The New York Times wrote an interesting report today on The Singularity Movement:

In the Singularity Movement, Humans Are So Yesterday - NYTimes.com

The article points to how much support there is from Google founders and others, such as top investor Peter Thiel.

"Some of Silicon Valley's smartest and wealthiest people have embraced the Singularity. They believe that technology may be the only way to solve the world's ills, while also allowing people to seize control of the evolutionary process. For those who haven't noticed, the Valley's most-celebrated company -- Google -- works daily on building a giant brain that harnesses the thinking power of humans in order to surpass the thinking power of humans. "

"Larry Page, Google's other co-founder, helped set up Singularity University in 2008, and the company has supported it with more than $250,000 in donations. Some of Google's earliest employees are, thanks to personal donations of $100,000 each, among the university's "founding circle." (Mr. Page did not respond to interview requests.) "

. . ."We will transcend all of the limitations of our biology," says Raymond Kurzweil, the inventor and businessman who is the Singularity's most ubiquitous spokesman and boasts that he intends to live for hundreds of years and resurrect the dead, including his own father."

. . ." Peter A. Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal and a major investor in Facebook, is a Singularity devotee who offers a "Singularity or bust" scenario."

As in the Christian Rapture, only a few will get there:

..."Andrew Orlowski, a British journalist who has written extensively on techno-utopianism. "It is rich people building a lifeboat and getting off the ship."

It's a vision of a select few living forever in an utopian paradise free of mortal concerns. Is "The Singularity" the uber-geeks' version of "The Rapture"? It certainly shares key themes and beliefs.

- - -

Ray Kurzweil is the chief spokesperson for The Singularity movement. I went to see him speak at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco a few years ago.

Mr. Kurzweil had to take a break from ingesting more than 350 micro-nutrients a-day. He takes these to help him stay alive until we reach the early stages of the Singularity - that's one micro-nutrient every 3 minutes.

He spoke for about an hour, or rather, he showed graphs for about an hour. Most of his graphs were logarithmic scale and all his graphs went up. They showed the inevitable progress of technology and science. And all of them converged in about 15 to 20 years, the point of The Singularity.

He said that if we can avoid encountering our mortal nature over the coming ten years or so, we will probably make it to The Singularity.

- - -

As far as my personal choice of "raptures" I'll go with RK's secular "The Singularity" I think we will get there faster than the Christians with their tech-free approach to salvation. Jewish people are still waiting and they are next in line.

- - -

BTW: There is an unique web service for Christians:


Rapture Letters

"The rapture: When all the believers in Jesus Christ, who have been born again, are taken up to heaven.

After the rapture, there will be a lot of speculation as to why millions of people have just disappeared.

... We have written a computer program to do just that. It will send an Electronic Message (e-mail) to whomever you want after the rapture has taken place, and you and I have been taken to heaven."


The Singularity geeks will send out their own emails. And there will also be a Google alert.


Global IT Outsourcing: Here Is How Brazil Can Differentiate Itself

I'm enjoying meeting Brazilian IT services companies and various IT associations as part of my trip this week to Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

The Brazilian IT sector is very sophisticated and it wants its share of the global outsourcing pie -- the same pie that India and China enjoy.

This morning we heard presentations from several very senior government officials from the state of Rio de Janeiro. The overall message was that Rio de Janeiro has 8 out of ten of the country's top science and technology schools; it produces 14,000 PH.d graduates a year; it has expertise in BPO and call centers; there are science and technology business parks; there is government financing, R&D credits, etc.

It's very much the same message that every other place around the world is using in their efforts to attract IT services business.

But when there are so many regions around the world now offering pretty much the same things, how do you distinguish yourself? That was one of the questions put to the Brazilian officials and they didn't have a good answer.

Antonio Gill, president of Brasscom, the Brazilian IT industry association, finished up the meeting by saying that there is a lot more work that needs to be done in getting the message out to the world that Brazil has a sophisticated IT services sector that is the equal of India or China.

"We are not very good at marketing," he lamented.

As he finished, the curtains in the conference room were rolled back and sunlight poured in through the large windows. And the vista was breathtaking.

We were right across from the iconic beaches of Ipanema, golden sands stretching for miles, the surf tumbling in, thudding and whooshing, people relaxing, playing volleyball, blue skies and blue water. Wow.

It was my first real view of Rio de Janeiro because we had arrived late the previous evening. I'd seen plenty of pictures of Rio but none captured how stunning this city really is.

Endless golden beaches ring the bay, similar to San Francisco bay, but this bay is studded with spectacular islands that tower hundreds of feet above the water. Behind, there is a ring of steep, lush green, cathedral-like mountains, on which one stands the massive statue of Christ the Redeemer.

And that's what struck me as the best way Brazil can distinguish its IT industries from any other place in the world:

"We have Rio de Janeiro."

After all, when all things are equal, why would you want to work with outsourcing teams in India, or China, when you could have Rio?!

Consider this:

- India and China take a full day and night of travel to reach and you arrive horribly exhausted and unproductive.

- You have to deal with massive jet lag.

- You are stuck in places where you can barely see the sun through the pollution.

- It takes another 24 hours of travel to get home, you arrive horribly exhausted and with massive jet lag and are unproductive for days.

- You have to stay up late at night to communicate with your teams in India or China.

- You have to deal with significant cultural differences both in business management and popular culture, which affects communications.

Brazil has the same things that India and China have: established IT services firms; a highly educated workforce; lots of engineering graduates; tax and financial incentives.

But also:

- Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo are within one to four hours of the same time zone as US companies.

- There's no need for US managers to stay up late at night to talk with their teams.

- Travel time is a lot shorter than India or China.

- Hardly any jet lag coming or returning which means you are productive instantly on arrival.

- Brazilians have a very good understanding of US culture and especially business culture, which makes for far better collboration.

- And the most important selling point - Brazil has Rio de Janeiro.

Here is my contribution to the marketing of Brazilian IT services in the US, just use this slogan: "It's Brazil" along with images of Rio.

You can even play around with the "IT" in Information Technology: "IT's Brazil" ... along with some appropriate images of the great lifestyle in Rio.

In a similar way as in the movie "Spinal Tap," when the lead guitarist shows of his custom amps that have dials that go to "11," and is asked questions about what makes them special compared with other amps, he keeps saying in a puzzled tone, "Yes, but these go to 11..."

If companies looking for IT outsourcing services ask questions, comparisons with Bangalore, etc, just repeat in a slightly puzzled tone, "Yes, but this is Brazil..." Because Rio takes Brazil to 11.

In the global IT outsourcing marketplace, when all things are equal -- as they trend towards that point anyway -- great lifestyle will be the next best selling point. And on this Rio de Janeiro can't be beat.

As soon as Brazilian IT services companies figure this out, that the answer to their marketing problem is staring them in the face, they will do very well indeed. They just need to roll back the curtains.


Brazil Diary Day 2: The World Is Flatly The Same...Is Sao Paulo A City From The Future?

"So how do you like Brazil," I was asked by one of the hard working organizers of the Brasscom IT Forum conference.

"I hope to see some of it before I go back to San Francisco," I replied.

The world is flat, flatly the same when viewed as a business traveller. All hotel rooms, airports, restaurants, and conference centers look the same. And the people look the same too, same dress, same culture...same.

I went for a walk but there wasn't much in the area around the Sheraton World Trade Center in Sao Paulo, where I was staying, just highways, and light industry, it could have been Newark, New Jersey, it looked like Newark. Surely Brazil should feel differently.

Next to the hotel I found a large design center with dozens of showrooms focused on high-end designer goods: furniture, electronics, interior decor, bathrooms, and more. Beautiful designs, very chic, and ultra-modern. I could have been in Milan, Italy rather than Brazil, where the average income is about $5,000.

. . . Brazil's fast growing consumer class

Sao Paulo is a massive city with about 23 million population, the third largest in the world. And it has a massive economic divide between its residents. It doesn't have the 750 favelas (shanty towns) that Rio de Janeiro has, but it has the same contrast between wealth and poverty, side by side.

But change is happening. Just half-a-block from a Lamborghini dealership with its hugely expensive, shiny cars, I saw a KIA dealership - the middle class is growing quickly thanks to Brazil's excellent economic growth. And that's drawing a lot of firms to Brazil's increasingly propserous consumers.

I spoke with Julia Santos, Head of Worldwide Strategic Outsourcing at Johnson & Johnson. She said that J&J has been in Brazil since 1933, which helps now that the markets for J&J products are growing because the company understands the culture.

"What sells here wouldn't sell in say, India or China," she says. "There's different scents, and other preferences. We also use Brazilian names for our brands."

She also works with Brazilian companies producing products for J&J and she says the cultural aspects of working with Brazilians are very good. "There is a can-do attitude here. The people work well together and they will do whatever needs to be done to get the job done."

. . . A city from the future?

Maybe Sao Pau