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

A Top Story Archives

Be Prepared To Be Judged Today ...By The Higher Standards Of The Future


Futuremorality  69 of 73

Peggy Noonan WSJ writes :

“The Franken case represents not a collapse of tolerance for flawed human behavior but a rise of judgment about what is acceptable.”

This means that you always have to choose a higher morality than is available today. The future has only one lens.

It reminds me of this post from 2006:

“Welcome to the future transparency of your life”

Event: The Atlantic Fights The Backlash Against Inclusion In Tech Industry


This coming Tuesday in San Francisco, The Atlantic magazine is hosting a free day-long event about diversity and inclusion in the tech industry.

Women, people of color, and other underrepresented groups continue to make up a small fraction of its workforce. And some in the industry have questioned whether efforts to turn the tide have gone too far. This backlash, along with numerous reports of sexism throughout the Valley, have left many wondering how to create real belonging in the innovation capital.

The Atlantic event wants to move ahead “and explore what change is needed to create lasting equity for all who work in the field."

9am Tuesday, December 12 - Terra Gallery 511 Harrison Street, San Francisco, CA 94105

Free with RSVP

The Atlantic has pulled together a great collection of speakers and topics plus there are several lunch workshops. I like the focus on doing and moving forwards rather than just talking about the problems.

Take a look at the day’s agenda here: 

It starts at 10am with: 

Why is Silicon Valley So Awful to Women, And What’s Being Done About it? A Town Hall Conversation

- - -

Please see:   Rent the Runway CEO: Gender discrimination is larger workplace issue than sexual harassment

Ben Bradlee Documentary Shows How To Create A Fearless Newsroom Culture


Above, still from the film, Ben Bradlee talking about newspapers being allowed “ go about our business. Which is not to be loved …but to go after the truth.” 

The Ben Bradlee documentary on HBO is fascinating for its inside-the-newsroom stories of building a defiantly aggressive news reporting culture at the Washington Post. It’s a culture that’s become pervasive and its creation story continues to serve as an inspiration for every reporter when times get tough.

When Ben Bradlee ran the Washington Post he was fearless in taking on US Presidents Johnson and Nixon but that wasn’t the case with fellow Bostonian Kennedy.

He was unable to reconcile his role as a tough reporter on the Washington beat *and* being extremely close friends with JFK. Bradlee and his wife Toni were John and Jackie’s closest friends. The documentary shows numerous photos and home videos of all four boating, golfing and partying.

Being inside Camelot was glamorous. But there was a dark side. The film reveals that Bradlee’s wife Toni was “seriously assaulted” by JFK as she tried to lock herself into a Ladies room during a drunken boat party. She told her husband but the Bradlees continued their friendship with the President.

Bradlee had by this time honed an unassailable position as a hard hitting reporter. JFK’s assualt on Toni Bradlee sounds like a scoop to me — Bradlee was running Newsweek. But in those days private lives were private — especially when your pals are running important things. Bradlee was the establishment.

Bradlee certainly redeemed his fearless reporter image following Kennedy’s assassination. He has been lauded and recognized for decades of legendary work at the Washington Post.

And Henry Kissinger still lives! He makes several appearance and has some choice words to say about the Washington Post’s coverage of the Pentagon Papers which faced huge opposition from the government and judiciary and revealed top secret information much as with Edward Snowden’s leak.

Bradlee with full support from the Post’s owner Katharine Graham stood by his guns fighting the courts for the right for newspapers to publish in the public interest.

“No politician can tell you what to read. It’s as simple as that.”

Kissinger says in a growl, “Indubitably, the point had to be made.” 

The point had to be made against an incredibly dramatic backdrop. No matter the popularity of the revelation or not — governments cannot restrict the public’s right to critical information relevant to informing the democratic process.

Garbage in — garbage out. We need accurate information to make the right decisions. And we have a lot of important decisions to make these days. It has been an incredibly important legal and moral precedent.

Ironically: Nixon’s hatred of the media, his enemies list and his attempts to lie and suppress the story of Watergate served to energize and boost the reputation of the media.

Nixon was relentlessly pursued by Bradlee’s news teams. They owned that story. And Bradlee’s refusal to back down — or slow down even during the Washington Post’s IPO(!) — helped boost the trust and reputation of all newspapers — even the ones not called the Washington Post.

His aggressive newsroom culture still stands today. Every newsroom reporter knows what Ben Bradlee would do.

I’ll certainly watch it again. The Newspaperman: The Life and Times of Ben Bradlee

Here’s a trailer:

Deloitte's crystal ball: These tech trends will create the Symphonic Enterprise


Deloitte sees a future where businesses are able to use new technologies in concert rather than trying to master each one individually.

In its just released ninth annual Tech Trends report Deloitte notes that companies approached the integration of new technologies through a domain specific approach. The old way was domain specific.

The lead authors, Bill Briggs, CTO of Deloitte Consulting, and Craig Hodgetts, Managing Principal of Technology at Deloitte, write: 

In the past, organizations typically responded to such disruptive opportunities by launching transformation initiatives within technology domains. For example, domain-specific cloud, analytics, and big data projects represented bold, if singleminded, embraces of the future. Likewise, C-suite positions such as “chief digital officer” or “chief analytics officer” reinforced the primacy of domain thinking.

But it didn’t take long for companies to realize that treating some systems as independent domains is suboptimal at best. Complex predictive analytics capabilities delivered little value without big data. In turn, big data was costly and inefficient without cloud.

 A holistic approach…

Deloitte sees some of the more “forward thinking” companies moving away from domain-specific initiatives. 

Instead, they are thinking about exploration, use cases, and deployment more holistically, focusing on how disruptive technologies can complement each other to drive greater value.

For example, blockchain can serve as a new foundational protocol for trust throughout the enterprise and beyond. Cognitive technologies make automated response possible across all enterprise domains. Digital reality breaks down geographic barriers between people, and systemic barriers between humans and data. Together, these technologies can fundamentally reshape how work gets done, or set the stage for new products and business models.

This will lead to the Symphonic Enterprise — business organizations able to combine several disruptive technologies to support highly successful business ventures.

When technologies act in unison, we no longer see the enterprise vertically (focused on line of business or isolated industries) or horizontally (focused on business processes or enabling technologies). In the symphonic enterprise, the old lines become blurred, thus creating a diagonal view that illuminates new business opportunities and creative ways of solving problems.

Here are the key enterprise tech trends for the next 18 to 24 months:

Reengineering IT. The IT department is being rebuilt from top to bottom into a more agile and important business partner that, “will define the technology organization of the future.”

- Hybrid-human workforce: Don’t be afraid of robots and AI taking away your job — they will become your work colleagues. “Human workers and machines will work together seamlessly, each complementing the other’s efforts in a single loop of productivity.”  Human Resources organizations will need to rethink how to recruit and train a “hybrid human-machine workforce.”

- Advanced Data Management: As enterprises seek to unlock value in their data they will have to adopt a additional data management technologies. 

- The new Mission critical core: The digitization of business has mostly been in customer-facing initiatives. There’s lots of untapped potential in middle and back office processes which have been largely been left unchanged.

- Virtual and augmented realities: Deloitte groups these under Digital Realities and says it represents a powerful new way for companies to engage with customers.

- Blockchain technologies: These are about to breakthrough into broad adoption in many important business functions.

- API technologies: These offer enterprises a way to increase the efficiency of their in-house IT systems by easily reusing those resources across their organization. 

- Exponential Technology Watchlist: These are the technologies that Deloitte’s forecasters say could create an impact three to five years from now. They are: Human-like Artificial General Intelligence; and quantum computing and its effect on breaking computer security.

Here is the entire report. Tech Trends 2018

Silicon Valley Ties To Russian Fake News Tops Tech Scandals List

What do you get if you ask 600 tech industry news readers to rank the top tech scandals of 2017? You get a very long infographic!

Here’s the nutshell details of the survey courtesy of Brionna Lewis at  Instamotor, an online used car market:

Top Five Tech Scandals of 2017

  1. Facebook, Twitter and Google testify about Russian meddling in the 2016 election
  2. Equifax announces data breach
  3. Uber admits to 2016 data breach and hacker bribing
  4. Google engineer sends sexist memo
  5. Female engineer unveils sexist culture at Uber

Instamotor found a large amount of goodwill towards the scandal ridden companies:

Facebook: 3 in 5 respondents (60%) say Facebook is at least “somewhat trustworthy”, with nearly 1 in 5 (19%) ranking them as “very trustworthy”

Uber: More than half (51%) of respondents say Uber is at least “somewhat” trustworthy, with 12% ranking them at “very trustworthy”

Equifax: More than 2 in 5 (42%) say Equifax is at least “somewhat” trustworthy, with nearly 1 in 5 (19%) ranking them as “very trustworthy”

Here is the timeline of the scandals as an infographic:

Story continues...

Study: No Shortcuts From SEO — Old Web Dominates Google Search

Old web pages dominate the first page of Google’s search results and new pages less than one year old represent only 0.3 percent of the top ten Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) for 2 million randomly selected keywords.

The Web Site Group prepared the following infographic based on a study by Ahrefs, a marketing tools company. It shows that the position of a website in Google’s results is a function of its age rather than on its content alone.

Older web pages dominate the first page of Google's search results and new page -- less than one year old -- represent just 0.3 percent of the top ten Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) for 2 million randomly selected keywords.

The Web Site Group prepared the following infographic based on a study by Ahrefs, a marketing tools company. It shows that the rank of a webpage in Google's results is largely a function of its age rather than on its content alone.

It's an important discovery because businesses large and small worry constantly about their position in Google's search results. Google changes its algorithm on a regular basis so that it can stay ahead of search engine optimization (SEO) techniques that try to get around Google's ranking algorithm.

Every business wants to be on the coveted first page of 10 links returned for a Google search. And they collectively spend large sums on SEO services and tools that promise to improve their Google ranking.

The Ahrefs study, however appears to show that businesses are wasting money pursuing SEO as a quick short-cut to attaining first page ranking. Ahrefs discovered that it takes two to three years to attain number one ranking on a keyword. Trust is a relationship that needs to be consistent over time in order to build. There is no shortcut through SEO and it's risky business, IMHO.

Google punishes companies that use SEO that goes beyond the basics in its web master guidelines because it sees it as a flagrant attempt to manipulate its search -- it's the mark of a spammer.

Manipulating Google...

Even if certain SEO techniques work today -- they could become very problematic in the future when Google moves to close such loopholes and sees who was trying to deliberately manipulate their ranking.

SEO practices that used to be common such as buying links on other sites to generate thousands of backlinks can now cause Google to lower the rank of the web site because Google can now distinguish link farms from organic links. Large numbers of backlinks from link farms is a clear and unerasable marker of attempted SERP manipulation.

SEO content editors...

Many businesses are concentrating on content marketing as they realize that every company needs to be a media company -- to some extent -- because if you are not seen you don't exist. 

Companies are trying to produce high quality online content according to Google's claim that it will rank such pages higher. It is common to use SEO tools to edit the content to make sure it'll get a great response from Google.

But SEO tools do not test content for comprehension. The Googlebot can read but it cannot understand -- it's not that smart. And editing web page content with SEO tools is not that smart.

I've always advised businesses to focus on making sure their content is optimized for people and not bots. Let the search engines work on optimizing their own algorithms.

Create content for human visitors because the bot will be back but the human might not. Plus, it's people that buy stuff and bots generally do not.

Trust no shortcuts...

Trust takes time to build and SEO tricks can become a marker of mistrust. It takes time to rank highly in Google search and that's the way it should be.

The time it takes to develop trust and a high Google rank is a clear business advantage because it is something that cannot be bought.

The Ahrefs report clearly shows that businesses cannot buy their way onto the first page of results. Strategic stuffing of keywords into web page content and header data will not work.  And there is no way to create a three-year old web page.

Here is the infographic of the Ahrefs study:

Story continues...

Media Disruption: Is the Race To The Bottom Bottoming Out?

The media industry continues to be disrupted and former high flying new media companies are being hit as revenues from advertising continue to fall despite increased readership.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO of Mother Jones magazine lists some the recent troubles:

Buzzfeed, the big media success story of the past decade, projects missing its earnings targets by some 20 percent.  CNN faces shortfalls, despite its incredible scoops and a political climate that’s had all of us glued to the headlines.  Mashable, another investor darling, announced its sale for about a fifth of its valuation just two years ago.  The Daily Beast, owned by the same parent company as Tinder, is looking at a sale, and    Univision is on the hunt for someone to take a piece of the former Gawker sites.  Alternative weeklies are on life support and Conde Nast is making cuts. 

Journalism Is Imploding Just When We Need It Most – Mother Jones

Bauerlein writes:

Some blame the Google and Facebook algorithms (could real news getting caught up in the fight against the fake stuff?). Others speculate that readers and viewers are simply tiring of the 24/7 onslaught of crazy.

Her strategy for magazine survival is to build trust with readers through important investigative journalism projects in the hope they will donate money.

I hope you’ll consider joining (or re-joining) the community of some 50,000 MoJo donors with a tax-deductible gift here

Foremski’s Take: 

Asking for money seems to work for a specialist magazine such as Mother Jones which has never had to completely rely on advertising. But asking for handouts is not a sustainable business model -- it can only work for a very small number of publications.

We need something viable, scalable and available to all.

The darlings of the new media sector such as Buzzfeed, Gawker, and Mashable attained massive amounts of traffic yet even they were unable to run fast enough to stem the race to the bottom on declining advertising revenues.

Google is also racing to the bottom. Every quarter it reports less money per click than the same period in the prior year. In it's most recent quarter it reported 18% less -- a larger than expected decline. But it beat Wall Street estimates because it found more places to show more ads.

Traditional and new media companies cannot match the scale and the low costs of the platform-based media companies. They have additional advantages such as avoiding the label of a media company and thus able to shun the costs of maintaining community standards in regards to hate speech and fake news.

Google and Facebook can survive the race to the bottom for much longer than the media companies that rely on people rather than software to create content. But they are media companies run by engineers and they don't understand the economics of the business and their effect on the industry.

Unequal relationship...

Google and Facebook need news content but they take too much of its value and return too little. Media companies complain that the traffic is of poor quality and hard to monetize.

For example, Mother Jones spent $350,000 on an investigative series that was tremendously popular online but was only able to recoup $5,000 in online advertising revenues.

Media beggars...

Billionaires such as Jeff Bezos and Warren Hellman have stepped in to try and help out the media industry, and Patreon collects donations for worthy media ventures.

But begging is not a business. Handouts cannot scale and they mask a very serious problem that is not addressed -- the continuing instability in the media business model.

We need innovation in the media business model so that it rewards quality journalism with reasonable profit margins that enable reinvestment, growth and vigorous competition. We do not have this or anything like this. And there's nothing on the horizon.

Garbage collection...

This is an incredibly serious problem because without a trusted and healthy media sector we cannot make the right decisions to govern ourselves and lead our future.

Garbage in -- garbage out.

- - -

Please see: Fake news problem: Facebook is a media company run by engineers

$GOOG Analysis: Google's rapidly narrowing future

Journalism+Silicon Valley: What Balance Of Power?

No good news for media industry in Internet Trends report

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

Arc Publishing: The Washington Post's Software Startup

Harry McCracken has written an excellent profile of the Washington Post's Arc Publishing business which sells access to the same technology that is used to publish the online newspaper. 

[Arc Publishing] allows other news organizations to use the Post's tools for writers and editors. ...It's like a high-end version of Squarespace or, tailored to solve the content problems of a particular industry.

The Washington Post Is A Software Company Now

Revenues could start adding up to a substantial stream. Small customers pay from $10,000 per month to $150,000 for large customers and payment depends on bandwidth. Get a top story and it will cost you but Arc makes more in revenues.

McCracken adds:

By offloading the creation of publishing tools and the hosting of sites, media companies can concentrate on the journalism itself rather than the technical requirements of getting it in front of readers.

Foremski's Take: It looks like a smart move by the Washington Post to sell the same tools it uses. But does it know what it takes to become an enterprise software company?

It takes a substantial engineering effort to maintain and improve any set of commercial software tools. It is not a trivial task.

To make it a business you need to have all sorts of support people, you need customer success engineers, you need a sales force and you need marketing staff. It is a big commitment.  It requires a very big investment.

The management of the Washington Post understands how to run a media company but not a tech company. 

The Washington Post could release its tools as open source software projects and let others help improve them rather than try to commercialize them itself and have to make a very substantial investment in building the business.

Also: in charging by bandwidth it implies the value of the platform is in shifting bits from place to place rather than in the tools and platform expertise.

Spin Arc Publishing off and let it raise money rather than become a constant distraction to management. Media disruption requires full attention and Jeff Bezos cannot stop it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Engineering fake news...

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

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

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

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

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

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

- - -

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

No good news for media industry in Internet Trends report

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

Journalism+Silicon Valley: What Balance Of Power?

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

1208780 583830771675190 771545354 n

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Facebook Fake News Problem: It's A Media Company

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Natalie Gagliordi reports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Big Drop in Tech, Media And Telecoms Deals

Acquired 56

Europe’s Brexit problem could be to blame…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mergermarket report.

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

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

Digital vulnerability…

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

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

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

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

JHYMAN 00027

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- - -

Please see: Big jump in women on tech company boards

Crunchies Awards for Silicon Valley startups focus on diversity

Large gender bias in US tech salaries reports Glassdoor


CultureWatch: A Crowded Bus All To Myself

BusStop 1578

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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


- - - 

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

The Automation Of Jobs And The Beach...

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

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

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

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

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

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


$GOOG's X And The Science Of Media Distraction


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

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

 It's a well written piece:

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

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

 Thompson’s conclusion after several days in the lab: 

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

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

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

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

Look over there…

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

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

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

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

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

- - -

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

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

JoshMook 00030

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chip Sales hit Record Levels - Costs Of Innovation Rise


Gordon Moore’s Law describes the economics of innovation

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheap chips...

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Intel:

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

Elsevier Adds Fourth California Acquisition:

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

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

Story continues...

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Story continues...

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


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

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

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

Story continues...

More Bad News For Media Industry In KPCB Internet Report

Internet trends 2017 report 15 638

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

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

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

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

Story continues...

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

Timothy Lee at Vox reports:

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

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

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


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

Story continues...

Alphabet/Google Q1 Fails To Reverse Ad Value Slide

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

From Matthew Lynley at Techcrunch

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

The financial results contain Google’s little huge secret:

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

From Q1 2017:


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

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

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

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

Look over there — that car is driving itself!

The web user experience stinks

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

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

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

GradConn 5100

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

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

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

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

Story continues...

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


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

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

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

Story continues...

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

Untitled 00486

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

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

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

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

We could be very close to this Dream Marketing Machine. 

Story continues...

Silicon Valley Innovators Warned About Hyperscale Tech Companies

Workplace 02444

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

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

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

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

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

Story continues...

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


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

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

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

Story continues...

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


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

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

Story continues...

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


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

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

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

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

Story continues...

The #FakeNews Effect On Commerce And Critical Thinking


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

Without reliable and trusted information:

- Consumers and commercial buyers will delay purchases.

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

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

The rich get richer…

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

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

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

Story continues...

The Rise Of Fake News Amidst The Fall Of News Media


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

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

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

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

Ev Williams wrote:

Story continues...

US Venture Capital Investments Plunge In Fourth Quarter 2016


Two major reports on venture capital activity from PricewaterhouseCoopers/CB Insights and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) showed a steep drop in US venture capital investments in the last months of 2016 but a strong overall year. 

Story continues...

The Advantages Of A Ten-Year Overnight Success

Lots of great observations on the value of ten-year old startups in this post by Irish entrepreneur Cronan McNamaraYour Overnight Success will be 10 Years in the Making + 10 Innovation Tips for the Long Term

He makes a good case that over a ten-year period the founders and management teams have learned a lot and now can leverage that expertise very effectively by using new tools and resources that provide global business opportunities. 

Story continues...

Wearables Are Generating A Tsunami Of Useless Medical Data

At a recent media roundtable discussion about the future for wearables, hosted by Vivalnk, I was sitting next to two doctors who have been working in this field as advisers.

They told me they don't know what to do with all the data that patients keep sending them from their wearables, heart rate, steps taken, etc. And some wearables collect data on biometric data that's unknown to medical science. 

All of that big data and it has no medical value. I was astounded.

Story continues...

Illuminate - Duarte Debuts New Movements Marketing Practice


The Silicon Valley firm that helped Al Gore create a movement to curb climate change introduces strategy team to help leaders spark and sustain change. Guest post by Chris Knight 

In 2012, Nancy Duarte and Patti Sanchez set out to write a book to help business leaders envision the future and make their big, audacious visions a reality. In their 2016 book Illuminate: Ignite Change through Speeches, Stories, Ceremonies and Symbols, they lay out a five-part taxonomy for leadership movements.

Based on four years of in-depth research, Illuminate is rich in case studies about how great leaders like Apple's Steve Jobs, Starbucks' Howard Schultz and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used speeches, stories, ceremonies and symbols to mobilize the masses.

In a review of Illuminate, Forbes’ contributor Nick Morgan highly recommends the book for organizations that are keen on thinking through and telling stories that take

“best advantage of human cultural symbols, signs and signposts along the way. You can run an organization without telling stories to bring employees, customers, and the public into your fold – but you can’t run it very well.”

Story continues...

Facebook is a tech-enabled media company

FacebookCampus 1740

Every day Facebook publishes millions of pages of content with advertising - what's "not a media company" about that?

Yet Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has lately been determined to identify Facebook as a tech company who's engineers are on a global mission of simply trying to connect people with each other.

Reuter's Giulia Segreti reported on Zuckerberg's recent comments in Rome, where he visited the Pope.

Story continues...

Redfin: Big Jump In Women On Tech Boards Could 'Reshape' Business

TwitterHQ 27 740

The number of women on the boards of tech companies has more than tripled since 2013 according to analysis of 100 public technology companies by Redfin, a national real estate brokerage.

The study says that tech company boards began to change because of a newspaper story. The New York Times pointed out that Twitter, which was preparing to go public in 2013, had an all-male board.

Story continues...

HBO Comedian Loves That Silicon Valley Can't Take A Joke


The winter issue of CNET Magazine is out and comedian T.J. Miller is on the cover and featured in an interview.

Miller is one of the characters in HBO’s sitcom Silicon Valley. In the interview he says,

I consider everybody who takes themselves seriously to be a little bit off,” Miller says. “And Silicon Valley seems to be the most effusive about how important their contributions are to society.

Miller proved his point last year when he hosted The Crunchies awards and upset many in the audience with his jokes about startups and the organizers said he would not be asked back.

Please see: The Crunchies’ Bitchgate: High Horses With Fake Unicorn Horns Ignore Decades Of Silicon Valley Misogyny -SVW

Story continues...

Glassdoor Study: Big Gender Gap In Key Tech Salaries


Robert Hohman, CEO of  Glassdoor announces gender pay gap study at Stanford University

Many US tech jobs show high levels of gender pay discrimination, well above other professions reports online jobs site Glassdoor in a study of more than 500,000 salaries.

The report listed the widest gender pay gap as 28% for computer programmer, 16% for game artists, 15% for information security specialists, 11% for software architects, and 10% for SEO strategist. A further 11 jobs were singled out for gender pay gaps, the lowest 2% for hardware engineers.

Story continues...

A 'Tumultuous Decade' Rolls On... More Lost Generations Of Journalists

Uncertain 2

Journalism’s uncertain future

This book looks interesting- Journalism’s Lost Generation: The Un-Doing of U.S. Newspaper Newsrooms by Scott Reinardy, a journalism professor at the University of Kansas.

Deron Lee at CJR, writes

When Scott Reinardy began studying the state of morale in newspaper newsrooms more than 10 years ago...He didn’t know the industry was about to enter a traumatic period of upheaval that would deplete the ranks of journalists around the country and force newspapers to reassess their that tumultuous decade.

Story continues...

Media Disruption Accellerates As Paper Ads Plunge

2016 11 02 14 19 20

The disruption in the media industry is far from over as the transformation to a digital business model continues to challenge large newspaper groups according to recent financial reports.

Gannett and The New York Times Company are among companies reporting a steeper than expected drop in print advertising revenue in their latest financial quarter.

Story continues...

The Brexit Silver Lining: 20% Discount On Top Euro Talent Says Radius


IMG 0175

Stephen Chipman and his teams at Boston-based Radius have helped a lot of  US companies set up their European headquarters in the United Kingdom especially London, and they are understandably concerned about what to do in the wake of the country’s referendum to leave the European common market.

Those UK offices employ a lot of people, a lot of skilled engineers, technicians, marketing and sales staff. So the prospect of moving their operations because of restricted access to the much larger European market is a top concern.

“There’s no need to worry right now,  I tell them,“ says Chipman. “And there’s nothing that can be done right now, until we know what the terms of the exit will be. It could take years.”

Story continues...

GE startup will test ideas that could lead to a radical restructuring of its manufacturing business


General Electric (GE), the largest industrial company in the US, says it has developed processes that more than double the speed of innovation and which have the potential to completely restructure its own business.

GE will next week launch its first business venture, called Fuse that will test a hugely ambitious and radical approach to creating new companies through processes and technologies designed to harness the work of global crowds of experts. 

The GE startup “will usher in what we believe is the future of work,” said Dyan Finkhousen, Director of GE’s Open Innovation and Advanced Manufacturing group.

She was speaking at Brightidea’s Synthesize user conference in San Francisco. Brightidea is an enterprise software platform that helps organizations generate innovative ideas. Finkhousen said the Brightidea platform was important to GE because it supported internal and external teams of people.

It’s the first details of GE’s ambition to be at the forefront of the future of work and a strong measure of its conviction that it already knows what the future of work looks like.

Story continues...

What race is your AI? Obama discussion adds politics to tech



Above photo by Christopher Anderson/Magnum Photos for WIRED

Joi Ito, head of the prestigious MIT Media Lab told President Obama he is concerned that the core development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology is being built by a “mostly white” and “predominately male gang of kids."

Ito's remarks were made at a recent meeting with Barack Obama and Scott Dadich, Editor-in-Chief of Wired Magazine. They have been published here: Barack Obama on Artificial Intelligence, Autonomous Cars, and the Future of Humanity | WIRED

Ito said:

This may upset some of my students at MIT, but one of my concerns is that it's been a predominately male gang of kids, mostly white, who are building the core computer science around AI.

Story continues...

Intuit Has Big Plans For Small Business With New Quickbooks Platform Initiative

VinayPai 0037

Vinay Pai leads Intuit's developer initiative.

Intuit is planning a major expansion of its online Quickbooks business group into a machine learning advice, data and services platform for creating, managing and operating all types of small businesses.

The expansion of the Quickbooks platform and new partners will be announced at Intuit's Quickbooks Connect conference in late October, in San Jose, California. The event will feature some of the top developers of apps for Quickbooks' users, such as payroll services. 

Story continues...

Culture Watch: Board Game 'Settlers of Catan' Has A Cult Following In Silicon Valley

2016 08 11 11 38 52

Photo from 

Guest Post: By Janet Miller — a board game addict, habit scientist, former Silicon Valley executive and cofounder of Jen Reviews.

Settlers of Catan Settlers of Catan was one of the first European games to gain popularity in the U.S., and has been called “the board game of our time" by the Washington Post

Settlers has gone from being a Monopoly style game set in an island valley to a social, cult-attracting capitalist paradise. If you don't play, you're not going to fit in with the crowd of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.

The game is very popular in Silicon Valley — here’s some suggestions why:

Story continues... A Comedian In Every Pocket


For fans of stand-up comedy: launched today what is described as a “Pandora for standup comedy” smartphone app. It features 400 comedians such as Chris Rock, Amy Schumer, George Carlin, Aziz Ansari and also - you!

Self-publishing tools provide users with the means to create, publish and distribute their own stand-up act. 

Deals with large media companies such as Comedy Central provide a media library of tens of thousands of comedy routines. 

Cybersecurity Costs - An Unsustainable Tax On Business

RayRothrock 0004

The cost of cybersecurity has become a burdensome tax on business and with 1.5 million IT security jobs unfilled, US corporations are losing to sophisticated criminal gangs, said security experts at a recent event in San Francisco.

"Cyber is a tax on business. Jamie Dimon [JP Morgan Chase CEO] has had to double his cybersecurity budget to $500 million. Things can't continue this way forever, we have to get ahead of the problem," said Ray Rothrock (photo), a veteran VC, now chairman and CEO of RedSeal, a startup that measures the effectiveness of enterprise security.

Story continues...

Survey Warning: Millennials Will Shun Tech-Laggard Workplaces

Workplace 02444

Millennials will leave jobs that use technologies “not up to their standard” and they prefer to have “high-tech perks” than free food and ping pong, according to a global survey commissioned by Dell and Intel. 

The Future Workforce Study questioned almost 4,000 employees in 10 countries working at various sized businesses. It found:

Story continues...

Women In Tech: Is It OK To Say "Guys"?

WomeninTech 0035

Is it OK to use the word “Guys”  when addressing a mixed gender group of colleagues? Should women celebrate their feminine qualities or seek to avoid those stereotypes entirely at work?

These were some of the things discussed at a recent event, “The Gender Gap and How to Defeat It,” organized by Thomson Reuters and hosted by Blurb, a self—publishing startup in San Francisco. It featured a panel of younger and older women working in the tech sector and primarily aimed at an audience of young women students preparing to enter the workplace.  

Story continues...

Blockchain: Revolutionary Technology Or Over-Hyped Bandwagon?


Is blockchain technology the second coming of the Internet? That seems to be the enthusiastic message from many new startups that I meet with and also from top business consultants such as Don Tapscott, who authored with his son Alex Tapscott, the recently published book, "Blockchain Revolution: How the technology behind Bitcoin is changing money, business, and the world."

Blockchain is a globally distributed ledger -- a platform for reliably clearing transactions without the need of a bank or other third-party. I get the concept behind blockchain, that everyone owns the same ledger and thus it can't be easily altered unless you can gain control of the majority of all the computing resources.

Story continues...

Women & Tech: How To Defeat The Gender Gap


Thomson Reuters and Blurb are hosting a special evening Tuesday June 28 in San Francisco, focused on the topic: Empowering women to work in technology.

Story continues...

Intel's Andy Grove Named Silicon Valley Visionary


Visionary Awards: Craig Barrett, center with Tim O’Reilly and Jane Evans-Ryan, Genuity. 

This year’s Silicon Valley Forum Visionary Awards featured a tribute to the late Andy Grove, the legendary leader of Intel, who helped build the company into the world’s most valuable semiconductor company.

Three additional people received a 2016 Visionary Award: Carl Bass, CEO Autodesk; Tom Wheeler, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and Jennifer Pahika, founder and Executive Director of Code for America.

Story continues...

Awards for French startups in Silicon Valley

ParisParis 1

US President George W. Bush is reported to have once said, "The problem with the French is that they have no word for 'entrepreneur.'"

The story about President Bush might not be true, but in many ways the story rings true because France certainly has developed an anti-entrepreneurial image abroad over the past few decades.

And maybe this is why I hear French spoken on the streets here all the time lately, far more than at any time prior, in my 30 years in San Francisco and Silicon Valley.

Story continues...

Hennessy Steps Down As Head Of Stanford University - Leaves Huge Silicon Valley Legacy

Hennessey 2827

John Hennessy, one of Silicon Valley’s most connected and successful businessmen, has ended his 16 years as President of Stanford University and nearly 40 years on the faculty.

He greatly expanded endowments and the university’s engineering school, which has spawned companies such as Google and Yahoo.

Story continues...

NetSuite and iCharts: Enterprise Apps As Data Integration Platforms


iCharts founder and CEO Seymour Duncker

The future calls for enterprise apps becoming aggregators of trusted IT micro-services from many sources   — does that mean they can become effective data integration platforms? A low-cost path to Big Data’s promises of profitable business insights?

Story continues...

Gary Bloom Interview: Big Data Driving Booming MarkLogic Sales

GaryBloom 720

When I first met Gary Bloom more than 15 years ago he was second to Larry Ellison at Oracle, and when he jumped to run Veritas, I was one of the first reporters to interview him. Then came a short stint at Symantec, eMeter, then consulting with private equity firm TPG. With over 30 years in key positions he’s become one of Silicon Valley’s top business leaders.

Since 2012, Bloom has been CEO of MarkLogic, a fast growing Silicon Valley database company riding the hot wave of interest in NoSQL databases such as MongoDB, as large organizations attempt to mine their diverse stores of big data for business insights. 

Relational databases still run at the core of every large business but they are seen as too limited and too structured for the digital business world where there is a need for highly scalable, highly adaptable database architectures that can easily add unstructured data sources, run on clusters, and support complex web sites — without first mapping all the data into the correct rows and columns of a relational database. 

Story continues...

uHoo: Every Breath You Take -- Collecting Data On Your Personal Pollution


Our transition from a rural to an urban lifestyle means we spend far more time inside homes and offices and on the roads connecting them. And that means exposure to a huge number of gases leaking from the walls, carpets, industrial facilities and cars. It would be good to know the locations where the concentration of these gases are harmful to peoples' health.

Singapore based uHoo today announced a digital device that can detect a large number of harmful chemicals such as carbon monoxide, ozone, and volatile organic solvents in the air along with sensor data on air pressure, humidity, dust and temperature. 

Story continues...

The Future of Media: Can Publishers Become Media Platforms?

WeberPanel 720

From left: Vivian Schiller, Christina Farr, Charlene Li, Stephanie Losee.

Social media platforms Facebook, Medium, LinkedIn, Twitter, Apple are competing for traditional media publishers to use them as distribution platforms and in some cases are offering 100% of advertising revenues. Certain publications now rely on the majority of their traffic from these media platforms. But is this an equitable partnership?

Vivian Schiller, a veteran news executive at, NPR, Twitter, CNN and now Executive Editor-in-Residence at PR firm Weber Shandwick, introduced these and other questions as moderator at Weber’s second Future of Media panel series.  

The San Francisco event featured five additional women and one man: Christina Farr, reporter for Fast Company; Charlene Li principal analyst at Altimeter Group; Stephanie Losee, head of content at Visa; Jillian D’Onfro reporting for Business Insider; and Karen Wickre, content strategist, and Simon Rogers, a Data Editor at Google. 

Here’s some of my notes from the evening:

Story continues...

Media Disruption Continues: Native Advertising Won't Save Hundreds Of Jobs At New York TImes

The New York Times Company said it will close its Paris based editing and production offices eliminating or moving up to 70 jobs.

It is just a fraction of hundreds of jobs that will be lost in the second half of this year, reports Claire Atkinson for the New York Post.

"There's a goal of a couple of hundred people," said a source familiar with talks. "They don't want to pay out big packages, and they're having negotiations with the unions." The layoffs would likely occur between the Aug. 21 end of the summer Olympics in Brazil and Election Day on Nov. 8, sources said.

The New York Times management was hoping that "native advertising"-- in which brands such as computer maker Dell publish adverts in the newspaper looking like editorial content -- would help to turn around its fortunes. 

Foremski's Take:

Story continues...

Thursday Event: San Francisco City Execs Talk Social Media Strategy

SFCity 720

The Social Media Club meeting this Thursday eve (April 28) looks fascinating. It will feature two San Francisco City and County communications executives: Kathleen Clark, social media manager and Lauren Jones, Digital Comms Manager. They will discuss the role of social media, strategy and future plans. 

More than 50 departments of the City and County of San Francisco publish social media pages. 

As part of Silicon Valley’s innovation communities, San Francisco city government could set a leadership position in how cities can use social media, and powerful publishing platforms such as Instagram, LinkedIn and Medium to communicate important news and engage communities on key city programs.

 More details and tickets here: Increasing Public Awareness: A Social Strategy for a Social City

The Limits On Big Data On Dating In Building Diversity At Work

Workplace 0022

Romantic relationships, and a person's relationship with their work, would seem to be too distant and the experience too different to be comparable, yet eHarmony believes its success with the lonely can be put to use to make happier workplaces, and match people with jobs they love.

And if eHarmony's algorithms could also help build more diversity in the workplace, there are many Silicon Valley companies that would love to place an order because this has become a very hot topic and there's no quick solution.

I spoke with Dr. Steve Carter who heads the recently launched eHarmony venture: Elevated Careers. He says the same data science, derived from eHarmony's many years in the dating and mating scene, are applicable to our relationship with work.

Carter says the same methods for predicting romantic bliss can predict compatibility between worker and workplace.

Over the years, eHarmony's analysis of its Big Data on dating, has been honed to such a degree that it can claim a very precise, "438 marriages per day on eHarmony."

If it can bring a fraction of that accuracy to predict a person's job satisfaction,  Elevated Careers will have made a start on its mission of repairing, "A broken recruitment model that costs US businesses $11 billion a year."

Could the same data science be used to help employers make their workplaces more diverse? Could Elevated Careers match people's diversity with compatibility in the workplace? Many Silicon Valley companies are searching for ways to add more diversity by increasing numbers of women, minorities, etc.

"Oh no, we stay away from that type of protected information," says Carter. "We focus on helping each person find a workplace with a high level of compatibility with the company's culture, the hiring manager, and shared attitude towards work."

Elevated Careers can't help build diverse workplaces because it is illegal for a company, or its agents, to discriminate in its hiring practices, based on a candidate's qualities of diversity, rather than job qualifications.

But on a dating site, it is perfectly legal to filter candidates based on ethnicity, gender, size, shape, religion, sexual orientation, looks, color of hair, color of eyes, height and age. It is not racist or sexist when it's used for dating because all these individual preferences are essential in predicting relationship success.

Because eHarmony says that what works in dating also works in predicting success in professional relationships, the best analysis of workplace compatibility would be with all available measurable traits of a person's diversity incorporated into the Elevated Careers algorithm. But that would be illegal.

Elevated Careers can't use eHarmony's vast archives of relationship data; and it can't use the lessons learned in compatibility between people.  Its algorithms would be attacked as racist and sexist if used to measure job compatibility.  This means Elevated Careers begins life with a big job ahead in collecting all the people and workplace data it needs to prove its approach will work.

For example, to predict job compatibility, Elevated Careers needs to survey a significant number of each company's workers independently of the employer, so that a true and honest assessment of culture and job satisfaction can be made, and then matched. 

It's going to take a while for it to build a large enough dataset, adjust its predictive algorithms, and start helping people find a happier relationship with work.

Elevated Careers has a worthwhile mission, and it might improve some workplaces just from the jump in self-awareness that each company will experience when considering questions about its culture, and why it has such a high staff turnover.  

Story continues...

Enterprise Security: The Easiest Hacks Are The Toughest To Stop With Technology

Corporate700  1

The challenge of protecting the enterprise from simple email phishing scams.

There’s no need to use advanced Black Hat technologies to get access to sensitive corporate data if you have a copy of a staff directory — as more than 21,000 employees of Sprouts supermarket chain found out recently. All had their social security numbers and other personal details exposed after an employee in the payroll department responded to an email from what looked like a senior executive asking for a copy of every employee’s W2. 

All of the Sprouts employees now face many years of anxiety over hackers patiently waiting to use and abuse their illicit data haul of taxpayer identities.

Story continues...

Intel's Andy Grove Is Dead - Silicon Valley Loses Top Business Leader And A Champion Of Diversity

BobNoyceGroveMoore1978 thumb

1978: Andy Grove, left, with Intel colleagues Robert Noyce (center) and Gordon Moore.

Intel yesterday announced that Andrew Grove, its former CEO and Chairman, had died aged 79.

Present at Intel’s 1968 founding with Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore, Andy Grove became Intel’s President in 1979 and CEO in 1987. He served as Chairman of the Board from 1997 to 2005. Both during his time at Intel and in retirement, Grove was one of the most influential figures in technology and business, writing best-selling books and widely cited articles, and speaking out on an array of prominent public issues.

Story continues...

Data Masking Saves CIO Jobs And Makes IT Heroes

Halloween 3

Working at Delphix, a virtual technologies startup in the heart of Silicon Valley, I've been learning a lot about enterprise software and the challenges facing global corporations as business becomes ever more digital. 

Data security is critical and its importance was underscored by the recent RSA Conference in San Francisco -- the world's largest gathering of computer security experts. About 40,000 people -- a jump of nearly 20% compared with last year -- attended its awards ceremonies, hundreds of presentations, and demonstrations from thousands of vendors of data protection technologies.

But if you bought everything at RSA would your organization be completely secure? 

Story continues...

#IN2Summit: Is Content Marketing Failing Us? 3 Ex-Journalists Say 'No'


From right: Michael Kanellos, (standing) SanDisk; Scott Lowe, Activision; Stephanie Losee, Politico; moderator Henk Campher Allison+ Partners.

The Holmes Report's Innovation Summit in San Francisco featured a panel of former journalists, now engaged on producing a broad range of editorial content for large brands, speaking on the topic of Content Marketing.

The first question was should the average person know anything about Content Marketing? They all nodded vigorously: No, because it is all about great content, and since the goal of Content Marketing is publish editorial content of substantial value then it is no different from the goals of independently produced content.

Story continues...

Pioneering Silicon Valley PR & Media Research Group SNCR Merges With The Conference Board

Around ten years ago I happened to be in the right place at the right time — meeting Jen McClure as she was setting up an extraordinary organization: The Society for New Communications Research (SNCR).

I was honored to be invited as a Founding Fellow and it has led to many wonderful friendships. I’m glad that Jen’s hard work has paid off as she announces a merger with The Conference Board, which has the resources to take the important work of SNCR further and farther afield with its offices in 60 countries. 

Here is Jen McClure to explain:

Story continues...

Crunchies Awards: Diversity Ruled The Stage But Silicon Valley Stars Absent


I was excited to be at The Crunchies Awards Monday evening. I was right behind two seats reserved for Mike Arrington (founder of TechCrunch) and my old buddy Om Malik founder of GigaOm.

Neither came to occupy their seats and neither did Silicon Valley's star CEOs and VCs as had been common in prior years. Arrington and Malik turned up on stage later to present an award for Angel of the year but there was no Silicon Valley royalty: no Zuckerberg, no Marissa Mayer, no Travis Kalanick, Elon Musk, Marc Benioff, Marc Andreessen...

Story continues...

Geoffrey Moore: Does IT Matter? Are Apps Important?


Geoffrey Moore's 1991 book "Crossing the Chasm" was incredibly influential in the tech sector with more than one million copies sold and it gave birth to the Chasm Consulting Group.

Story continues...

Silicon Valley Gets On The Same Bus Every Day...


Silicon Valley's pursuit of diversity is skin-tone distracted and gender confused. Diversity is more than a ratio...

Silicon Valley's leadership in sourcing innovative ideas is slipping and its feeble pursuit of diversity isn't helping.

Original ideas come from original experiences -- an environment that brims with a diversity of genders, skin colors, ages, economic backgrounds, national cultures, and artistic expression.

A tree grows in Brooklyn...

Story continues...

On Blogging And Bragging: Being Named By LinkedIn As A Top Media Writer And The Unbearable Awkwardness Of Self-Promotion...


I feel very honored to be ranked #4 by LinkedIn as one of the "top 10 media writers of the year" in the debut of its "Top Voices of the year" list that named 80 writers across eight industry sectors.

I also feel a little uncomfortable about drawing attention to such accolades as do the majority of former newspaper reporters. We don't mind if someone else blows our horn but it feels crass doing it yourself. In today's media world that attitude is a handicap because if you can't handle a certain level of self-promotion no one will see your work.

The early Blogosphere...

When I left the Financial Times more than ten years ago to become a "journalist blogger" I suddenly fell into a very small, very strange community of writers I hardly knew before. It felt great to be part of this tiny and very feisty band of bloggers with Robert Scoble, Om Malik, Renee Blodgett, Dan Farber, Anil Dash, Doc Searls, Craig Newmark, Andy Lark, Dennis Howlett, Nick Denton, David Galbraith, Dan and Steve Gillmor, Jeff Clavier, etc (please see: Original Thinkers list).

Story continues...

The Software Defined Megacorporation - Why IT matters

IMG_0470 (1).jpg

There's a new business reality that few companies know about. If you want to be a player in global markets you will need a top-notch IT department. It won't be the same as the current one but whatever you do, don't buy the hype that you can just use off-the-shelf technologies and that the cloud makes IT departments obsolete.

Business edge will be defined by IT edge. IT matters and the performance of your IT department matters a lot.

The following is from my ZDNet column: IMHO:

The IT department will be transformed from a slow changing cost center and into a vibrant, creative organization essential to every business competing on a global scale.

More than ten years have passed since the publication of the book, "Does IT Matter? Information Technology and the Corrosion of Competitive Advantage" by Nicholas Carr, the former Executive Editor of the Harvard Business Review.

Few people disagreed with Carr's argument. In a world where every large company has the same IT systems, the same ERP apps, the same IT infrastructure, the same commodity hardware, no one has a strategic advantage.

Carr was right but that was then...

Story continues...

Computer Pioneer Alan Kay Says Tech Industry Ignores The Future



I was at SAP in Palo Alto earlier this week to see computer pioneer Alan Kay give a talk and also to meet with him for an exclusive interview.

I’ll have more on the interview coming up. I just uploaded the video of his talk here: Alan Kay @ SAP - YouTube

Alan Kay is a computer pioneer, he was part of the the Xerox PARC team of about 30 researchers who developed many of the key concepts of the PC and notebook. Here he talks about the lack of forward thinking in technology design and innovation.

He advocates designing products for how we expect to use technologies decades from now instead of trying to replicate old technologies.

He also talks about system thinking rather than discrete products such as apps and hardware, the goal is integration and collaboration among our technologies because that’s what’s important for humans: more collaboration.

He also mentions that Steve Jobs missed a lot when he visited Xerox PARC and replicated the graphical user interface and mouse — he didn’t see the computers were all connected, used Ethernet, and they connected to the nascent Internet then called ARPAnet. Steve Jobs missed half of it and didn't see that the computers were all networked "because he's a visual guy."


Internet Archive Hero Award Goes To Viral Marketing Pioneers Grateful Dead

IArchive  1

John Perry Barlow accepts Internet Archive Hero Award from Brewster Kahle.

The Internet Archive (IA), the San Francisco based non-profit digital media archive, this week announced several new programs in collaboration with major US libraries and a new annual award: Internet Archive Hero.

The programs include partnerships with top libraries and music archive organizations. Music is a key focus for the IA which unveiled a "music locker" approach to enlarging its store of music without triggering copyright suits. It allows music collectors to upload digital copies of their libraries to their music locker stored on the Internet Archive. It will signal if a title has already been digitized and uploaded by another but it will still be available in the music locker. This should increase the size of the music archive by eliminating duplicate work and focusing on titles not yet digitzed.

Story continues...

Weber Shandwick: Not Much Future In Spirited 'Future Of Media' Discussion

SVW  1  1 copy

Weber Shandwick had a great turnout for its Future of Media event moving it to FAME on Broadway, a larger location in the heart of North Beach. And we had a rare all-woman panel after the lone male dropped out.

The moderator said it was a pleasure to be part of an all woman panel especially when the subject has nothing to do with women. 

SVW  1  4 copy

The moderator was Vivian Schiller Executive Editor-in-Residence at Weber Shandwick and the former Global Chair of News at Twitter, and a former CEO of NPR, did a good job including everyone in the conversation even if some panelists were way behind the times in their advice. For example: This is not a good time for journalists to strike out on their own, those days have come and long gone! Teams win.]

Story continues...

Churchill Club: Intel's Andy Grove Receives 'Legendary Leader Award'

Churchills 00159

From left: Saleem Janmohamed, Accenture; Andy Grove, Ben Horowitz and Geoffrey Moore, M.C.

Andy Grove was a founder, CEO and Chairman of Intel during a long career that saw the Silicon Valley firm grow to become the world's largest chip maker.

Story continues...

Weber Shandwick And The Future Of Journalism

Screenshot 2015 09 28 15 25 48

The San Francisco office of PR firm Weber Shandwick is hosting an interesting panel on October 13 with top journalists and corporate media execs titled: Journalism Disrupted, Journalism Reborn: The Future of Media in a Digital World.

Weber scores marks for a female-dominated panel with four of the five panelists: Connie Guglielmo, Editor in Chief at CNET News; MC Wellons, SF Bureau Chief for CNBC; Ann Grimes, Professor at Stanford University and a former Wall Street Journal SF Bureau Chief; Caroline Fairchild, New Economy Editor at LinkedIn; and Joaquin Alvarado, CEO for The Center for Investigative Reporting. 

Weber Shandwick has an active interest in the subject of journalism disrupted as do many PR firms because there’s plenty of new business opportunities. As the number of journalists continues to shrink, PR firms are offering businesses a wide range of editorial media services that includes: creating and publishing online magazines;  writing articles, columns and features; creating video news reports; etc.

Also known as “content marketing” it’s an attempt to try to plug the gaps in media coverage of companies that journalists once provided. It’s become a huge market. 

Weber Shandwick offers its media services through a business division called “Mediaco - We Help Every Company Become A Media Company”. [I worked with Mediaco last year on a client project.]

Foremski’s Take:

Story continues...

Jasper And The Connected Car

IoT Infographic

Jasper is positioning itself firmly in the Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure sector where it already has a lot of customers for its technologies.

If you are interested in IoT and the "connected car" there is a panel and networking event coming up this Thursday September 24 at 6pm  in San Francisco and you can request an invite here. Panelists include:

Story continues...

Technologies For Understanding Human Sign Language

A report from Intel Free Press on the challenges in developing communications technologies for deaf people... 

By Intel Free Press

Adam Munder, a lithography process engineer at Intel, has been 100 percent deaf since he was 1 year old. He doesn't read lips, nor does he speak. His communication is primarily based on using American Sign Language (ASL) and using two interpreters, one who listens to conversations and converts the dialog into ASL and another who reads his responses in ASL and voices this to his audience.

Munder seldom uses technology to communicate, despite being immersed in an extremely technical environment within Intel. And these technical conversations about lithography, a process for etching geometric shapes on a silicon wafer, are what actually pose the biggest difficulty for him communicating.

Story continues...

Finn Partners Acquires Horn Group...And The PR Industry's Gender Barrier

Screenshot 2015 09 10 14 40 56

PRWeek’s Lindsay Stein reports that Finn Partners has acquired Horn Group for an undisclosed sum to boost its tech practice.

After more than two decades in the business, Horn said she started thinking about selling, and Finn Partners was attractive because of its fresh thinking, independent stature, and culture. She noted that the deal will also expand its reach both in terms of geography and services. Horn’s security software clients may be interested in Finn Partners’ lobbying practice in Washington, DC, for example.

In 2014, Finn had 370 staffers worldwide and more than $52 million in global billings. Following the Horn acquisition, the agency will have about $70 million in annual fees and 500 employees.

Finn Partners boosts tech practice with Horn Group acquisition | PR Week

Foremski’s Take: Sabrina Horn is one of San Francisco’s top PR industry mavens, (even though she has been spending most of her time in New York these past few years). I’ve worked with Horn Group’s San Francisco teams on many stories over the past 15 years. 

Story continues...

'Leaders aren't afraid to be wrong' Says LinkedIn's Head Designer Amy Parnell


Above, LinkedIn's Head Designer Amy Parnell interviewed by Adam Leventhal CTO of Delphix.

The recent Delphix Tech Talk series featured Amy Parnell, Director of User Experience at LinkedIn. Adam Leventhal, Delphix CTO interviewed Amy on several key topics that helped surface some of the best practices she has developed at LinkedIn over the five years she's worked there. She leads more than 60 designers.

Here's the link to the WebEx video recording of her excellent talk: Amy Parnell @Delphix Tech Talks

Some of the key points that stood out for me:

Story continues...

Computer History: The Wearables Are New But The Challenges Are Old


Clint Zeagler, co-curator and co-designer of the “On You: A Story of Wearable Computing” show at the Computer History Museum.

By Intel Free Press

While wearables may be the latest rising trend, the concept of technology that can be worn on one’s body has actually been around for decades. Some of those original concepts even faced the same challenges that current devices currently are up against. A new exhibit, “On You: A Story of Wearable Computing” at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, showcases how wearables have evolved and overcome many challenges during that time.

Story continues...

What's Next When Every Company Is A Media Company? MaaS Media...


I'll be speaking Wednesday afternoon at PR Summit in San Francisco on the topic "Every company is a media company." 

I coined that term nearly a decade ago. Now every company is exploring what it means to be a media company because it has to, it has no choice.

Ten years on, I'll now tell you what is next in this exciting, but badly misunderstood trend that is tearing up the media industry and reorganizing companies and industries.

Every company is a media company but media companies don't write about themselves all day long. Media companies provide a service, companies have to discover how to produce  Media as a Service (MaaS) otherwise it is self-serving.

MaaS media is the best media. Find out more Wednesday afternoon at my Master Class session.

Media Business Models: Paper And Electron? That's Creativ


I recently received this well written pitch from Kaitlyn Garcia at VSC Consulting:

Print is dead. Magazines are dying.

Not so, thinks Creativ.

This magazine did something unique. They launched on mobile first, thanks to a large but relatively under the radar startup known as issuu, a platform that helps content creators build long form content vs. the short-form stuff we’re used to on apps like Flipboard.

Story continues...

Super-Fast Energy-Saving Memory Chip Breakthrough Will Change Computing


We will all be using a new type of memory chip soon reports Intel Free Press, thanks to the fruits of a partnership between Intel and Micron.

By Intel Free Press

After years of research by Intel and Micron Technology, the first new memory technology in 25 years has been announced. Called 3D XPoint it combines the best of DRAM and NAND (Flash) and promises to change computer designs.

"This has no predecessor and there was nothing to base it on," said Al Fazio, Intel senior fellow and director of Memory Technology Development. "It's new materials, new process architecture, new design, new testing. We're going into some existing applications, but it's really intended to completely evolve how it's used in computing."

Story continues...

Twitter's Problems Could Harm SF Mayor's Re-Election


Twitter is cleaning up in the Tenderloin.
Twitter's second quarter financial loss was smaller than Wall Street estimates but it also reported a large slowdown in the number of users and shares slid about 6% in after-market trading.

It reported its slowest rate of growth with the number of monthly active users up by just 1% or about 2 million to 304m compared with Q1. The company has lost several senior executives this year including its CEO. Twitter's share price at $34 is well below its IPO debut of $45.10. 

Foremski's Take: Twitter has become better at monetizing its large numbers of users but the lack of new user momentum, and endless leadership problems have left investors exasperated with the lack of progress.

Story continues...

Analysis: The Nikkei Financial Times — Scale Matters

The Financial Times (FT) newspaper business has been sold by Pearson to Nikkei, the Japanese media group for $1.32 billion. The deal values the FT at nearly three-times the market valuation of other publicly traded newspaper groups.

Industry sources report that Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters and Axel Springer had placed bids but late entrant Nikkei won it 15 minutes before the announcement from front-runner Axel Springer, which had been in negotiations for about a year. 

The FT has about 737,000 mostly digital subscribers. Nikkei is Asia’s largest independent media business group. It publishes newspapers, magazines, books, database services and broadcasting. The Nikkei newspaper, its flagship publication has 3.12m subscribers.

Foremski’s Take: The sale of the Financial Times was expected as Pearson, its owner has been shedding non-educational assets, and also as its core educational business has slid further into trouble.

Story continues...

Robots Will Still Need Humans In Factories Of The Future


Above, modeling uncertainty in human-robot interaction at UC Berkeley.

The good news is that humans will still be needed in the factory of the future; the bad news is that humans will still be needed in the factory of the future. A report from Intel Free Press:

By Intel Free Press

Contrary to what you may see at the movies, robots will not come to rule the world any time soon, experts say. Ken Goldberg, University of California, Berkeley professor of industrial engineering and operations research, and Otherlab CEO Saul Griffith, spoke at an event on factories of the future: “Bold Bets: Tomorrow’s Industrial Entrepreneurship.” 

Story continues...

Delphix Raises $75m Led By Fidelity And Wins Recognition In Top IT User Awards


 Delphix HQ in Menlo Park.

Delphix, (my employer) is building some excellent momentum with the announcement of $75m in funding led by Fidelity Management and Research, with new investors Credit Suisse and The Kraft Group. This follows recent recognition in two top IT awards from Computer Weekly and Computing (I used to work for Computing).

Story continues...

Beating A Path For Innovative Technologies


I came across a great interview by Danny Palmer at Computing, with Mike Lear the CIO of City Index, which provides spread betting services to tens of thousands of financial markets traders.

Faster delivery of apps is key in the competitive market for financial data that City Index provides but so is data accuracy. Testing is extremely important especially since customers can complain to government regulators.  

Story continues...

Report: Venture Backed IPOs Rising As M&A Deals Plunge To Lowest Since 2003

The National Venture Capital Association reported that the number of initial public offerings (IPOs) for VC-backed companies rose 59% in the second quarter of 2015 compared with the first quarter of this year.

There were 19 biotech and other life sciences IPOs and eight in the IT sector for a total of 27 IPOs raising $3.4 billion. Fitbit was the largest IPO raising $841.2 million.

Story continues...

Will IoT Turn Into 'Intel of Things'? Interview With Intel's Rose Schooler

Roseschooler caro

The world's largest chipmaker sees massive opportunities in IoT. Intel Free Press interviews Rose Schooler, head of Intel's Internet of Things Group.

By Intel Free Press

With the chance to connect “sensors to the cloud in every industry on the planet,” Rose Schooler,  vice president of the Internet of Things Group at Intel, says the Internet of Things (IoT) opportunity is massive. 

But interoperability, along with provisioning and managing these devices, are critical factors for success.

Her organization is responsible for delivering platforms for the networking and storage market segments as well as providing solutions for telecommunications service providers.

With so many emerging technologies and opportunities in IoT, how will everything be able to talk to each other?

Story continues...

Mobile News Site Circa Closes —Media Disruption Continues

Circateam  1 of 1

Circa CEO Matt Galligan in 2013 in the San Francisco office

Circa, a news aggregation service for smartphone users has closed, a further casualty in the ongoing disruption in the media industry.

Jason Abbruzzese reports: News app Circa says it cannot survive as a viable business

News app Circa, once a media darling for its mobile-first approach, has announced that it is going on an "indefinite hiatus" after it was unable to find someone to buy the company.

In a Medium post entitled "Farewell to Circa News," CEO Matt Galligan admitted that while they had succeeded in their goals of making a high-quality mobile news platform, Circa had failed to become a viable business.

Story continues...

Delphix Boost From Gartner IT Cloud Migration Report


Delphix received a big boost today recognition from Gartner, which placed Delphix in the top Leader's quadrant in its latest Magic Quadrant for Structured Data Archiving and Application Retirement. It's key in cloud migration projects, a complex and risky move made far simpler with Delphix and it's great to get the recognition from Gartner.

Story continues...

The Challenge For Innovation In The Enterprise: No Category -- No Budget

Corporations spend a lot of money on IT and some of that money is spent on new products from innovative IT startups.

But it's a hard slog for those startups when they have something truly innovative to sell because who do they sell it to when there is no category for what they have? Who holds the budget for something that didn't exist until a year or two ago?

There's budgets for databases, servers, for networks, and hundreds of other IT components. But where are the budgets for as-yet unknown technologies that could be transformative across the entire business?

Story continues...

An Ode To Hoarders — Archivists Of Historic Tech Treasures


Technology moves fast and today's tech products become outdated faster than the seasons change and are thrown out. Hoarders (such as Freda Clark, above) are unconscious archivists of our digital age and are now sitting on some iconic treasures. Here's a report from Intel Free Press...

By Intel Free Press

Hoarders who are finally clearing out their stashes are finding that some of their trash is actually treasure

Forgotten items sitting in the dark corner of garages or hidden away in attics are often just old clothes and household items. But on the rare occasion, there could something worth tens, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Story continues...

The $10K Search For 'Moore's Law' Magazine


The chip industry is governed by 'Moore's Law" and it has been an incredible innovation platform delivering ever cheaper digital devices. Intel Free Press takes a look at the original article in the original magazine...

By Intel Free Press

Amid all the fanfare around the 50th anniversary of Moore's Law this year, there will be multiple references and notations from a brief article written by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore in the April 19, 1965 edition of Electronics magazine, which ceased publishing 20 years ago.

It was the early days of the integrated circuit, and Intel was not even born yet when Moore, who was still at Fairchild Semiconductor at the time, was asked to contribute an article for the 35th anniversary of the magazine. In it, Moore pointed out that the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits had doubled every year since their invention. But, more importantly, he predicted that the trend would continue into the foreseeable future.

Story continues...

"Free Press" For Startups During A Time Of Crisis In The Media

I'm looking forward to speaking tonight at a Lifograph event in San Francisco, to executives at startups on the topic of "free" communications. It's "free" in that startups get to do it themselves because they can't afford a PR firm on retainer.

Story continues...

Actian And The Search For The Enterprise Hadoop User


I attended a very worthwhile roundtable this week, organized by Actian, a Big Data business analytics company. It was a very good mix of analysts, investors, media and users.

Story continues...

Here Is Why Software Engineers Should Start Blogging...

It's a pleasure to be working at Delphix with such a world-class engineering team. Our CTO is Adam Leventhal, one of the authors of DTrace, a truly revolutionary application. It allows engineers to monitor the performance and troubleshoot very complex IT systems.

It is like having X-ray vision into the heart of the data center. To put it bluntly, DTrace is one of the key technologies that enables the modern digital world that we take for granted.

Story continues...

Startup Voodoo Keynote: Prospering Female Entrepreneurs


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

By Aaron Perlut

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

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

Story continues...

Editorial Communications Is Not 'Brand Journalism' -It's 'Media as a Service'

EURO2014 858

Loren Maxwell revisits the strange world of "Brand Journalism" and content marketing in his recent post: Traditional Journalists, Brand Journalists Divided In Controversy Over Brand Journalism

2010 marks the beginning of the Content Marketing Institute, which recognized that throughout hundreds of years, one thing was consistent, “Brands have been telling stories for centuries”.

True, brands tell stories and journalists tell stories — but storytelling is not journalism.

What has emerged is a world, where journalism is split between traditional journalism (predominately news, reporting, and gathering of facts and information), and brand journalism (corporations telling stories to engage with their markets). The lines of journalism are becoming blurred. 

Maxwell makes a grave error in his post: Journalism is most certainly not split "between traditional journalism" and "brand journalism." There are not two lines of journalism.

Story continues...

Delphix Makes Its 1st Acquisition: Axis Technology Software

It's been an exciting week, here at Delphix. The company made its first acquisition, Axis Technology Software, a Boston-based startup that has become the leader in data masking technologies.

[The news release is here: Axis Technology and Delphix Partner to Address Data Masking Dilemma]

App development teams need their own clone of the production database — which includes terabytes of sensitive data — for rapid testing and updates. The rush to produce apps creates a security nightmare as each new clone of the database also clones the risks of losing control of that data.  

After highly publicized security breaches at Sony, and Target, it's not surprising that data masking is one of the most requested features by enterprise IT departments.

Story continues...

Coca-Cola's Chief Innovation Officer "Cracks The Code" On Startup Success: Storytelling

IMG 7737

Alan Boehme, CIO and Chief Innovation Officer at Coca-Cola Company, spoke at IDG's CIO Perspectives conference in San Francisco. Maryfran Johnson, Editor-in-Chief of CIO Magazine, introduced him by saying he had "cracked the code" on startups.

I was skeptical there would be much from Coca-Cola after the fallout from the innovation of "New Coke" in 1985 but I was wrong. It was a surprisingly interesting presentation and refreshingly frank in places.

Story continues...

Employers Bank Valuable Productivity Gains From Meditating Tech Workers

17165613407 0f90f8e856 o

Above, Lindsay VanDriel and Qua Veda are the co-founders of [email protected]

Meditation boosts productivity so when it comes to expensive tech workers the gains are very valuable. And so are the lower healthcare costs. 

By Intel Free Press

What started as a grassroots effort among a few colleagues  to meditate during the lunch hour has now grown into an officially supported 10-week long program at Intel.

Now in its third year, the [email protected] program imparts on participants concepts such as mindfulness, intention and relational intelligence. Intel is among a growing list of companies, such as Google, General Mills, Ford and LinkedIn, to offer classes on mindfulness.

It may seem paradoxical that taking a moment to slow down and be mindful would be beneficial to environments where agility is paramount, but elite athletes such as Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Derek Jeter practiced mindfulness techniques.

Intel employees Lindsay VanDriel and Qua Veda are the co-founders of [email protected]

Story continues...

Why I Chose Delphix...And The Future Of Corporate Media

HeidiDinner 69 2

I pursued a job at Delphix for a simple reason. It is awesome. I rarely use that word and when I do, it is in its awe-inspiring original meaning.

When I first met Jedidiah Yueh, the 40 year old CEO and founder of Delphix, more than two years ago, I was blown away by the potential for Delphix' virtual database technology, by its leadership, and by its deep bench of IT engineering talent, such as Delphix CTO Adam Leventhal, one of the authors of Dtrace -- an extraordinary performance analysis technology that is crucial to making our digital world work so magically.

And Rick Caccia, Chief Marketing Officer, and other senior Delphix executives are all valley veterans with long and proven careers in IT markets.

Story continues...

More On Delphix ... Corporate Media ... And The Dark Side

Just over ten years ago I jumped from one of the best jobs in my profession, Technology Correspondent at the Financial Times, into the curious world of "blogging."

I had no idea what I was doing, how I would make rent or what "blogging" was, and how it related to journalism. Remember, this was mid-2004, it was a brand new medium.

When Intel heard of my move, I later found out, it held an emergency meeting of its corporate communications teams to determine how they should work with bloggers. Is Tom Foremski still a journalist?

Story continues...

Delphix Adds Strength To An Already Strong Executive Team As It Preps For IPO

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

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

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

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

Story continues...

Salesforce Sale — Will Microsoft Tower Over San Francisco?

IMG 7595

A billboard at the construction site for the Salesforce Tower in San Francisco

Microsoft is evaluating a bid for Salesforce, reports Bloomberg, as a response to an acquisition offer from an unnamed company.

Foremski's Take: Salesforce has a market valuation of about $49 billion so it will be an integration challenge and a detachable jaw might be required to digest it. There's only a few possible suitors.

Story continues...

I've Joined Delphix...


(Above) I was speaking at FutureComms14 conference in London last summer.

I have some exciting news to share! I've joined Delphix, a hot Menlo Park based IT startup, in a senior editorial communications role. 

Story continues...

Jabil Opens Blue Sky Innovation Center in San Jose For Showcasing Gizmos And Gadgets But The Story Is In The Supply Chain


A demo of the "Capabilities Wall" at Jabil's Blue Sky Center in San Jose.

Jabil, the nearly $20 billion manufacturer of a huge range of electronic gadgets, unveiled its Blue Sky Innovation Center in San Jose this week. I learned a lot about this outsourced electronics manufacturer and I was especially impressed by the sophisticated IT systems that it developed to manage incredibly complex supply chains and model the future performance of its global business operations.

Story continues...

Google Apologizes To Euro Publishers And Offers Money And Developer Help


As the European Commission considers punitive measures against the US search giants business practices, Google offers to help eight European publishers develop new digital media products and announced it will fund new media projects from a $165m three-year "Innovation" fund.

Glyn Moody at Ars Technica reports that the offer is an attempt to mend bridges with the European Commission as it considers measures to crack down on Google's business practices.

Story continues...

Event: 'Rethinking Technology As If People Matter '- Sunday In SF

Rethinking tech website 1

Please join me for this fine event, this Sunday, April 26, 1:30 pm to 4:00 pm in the Presidio. It's organized by Tom Mahon, a Silicon Valley veteran and sponsored by Ahimsa, the Berkeley Buddhist Monastery, plus other interfaith organizations.

"Rethinking technology as if people matter," is a topic that is missing in our current discussion of tech yet it used to be a subject area that was very much in the fore for many people in Silicon Valley, for many decades. I don't think interest in this topic has gone away — it's just hidden by the current media fascination with startup valuations and billionaire millennials.  

Story continues...

Cotopaxi: Largest Series A Funding For B Corp Startup

Davis Smith - CEO Cotopaxi

I recently met with Davis Smith, founder and CEO of Cotopaxi, an e-commerce startup that recently raised a $6.5 million Series A round, for a total of $9.5 million --the largest amount ever raised from institutional investors by a Benefit Corporation.

A "Benefit corp" or B Corp is a legal designation that differs from the normal "C corporation" whose fiduciary obligations are to maximize shareholder profits or risk lawsuits. B Corps have a legal duty to fund a humanitarian mission from their profits.

Cotopaxi does good from the profits in selling outdoor gear.  Each backpack, jacket, or water bottle is linked to a specific humanitarian project.

Story continues...

Birst: Business Analytics Starts With Clean Data—GIGO

IMG 7140

I had an interesting media roundtable meeting with Birst, the cloud-based business analytics company that recently raised $65 million in a Series F, and a total of $156 million.

Major VC firms such as Sequoia Capital and Hummer Winblad, are backing the company as it seeks new customers and battles for a dominant position in cloud-based analytics.

Jay Larson, CEO (above) is 25-year industry veteran of SAP, Oracle, SuccessFactors, and Jive Software. He says the business opportunities for Birst are extraordinary.

Story continues...

Smartphone Sensors Sense User's Needs

IMG 1871

Intel Free Press reports on moves to harness smartphone sensors to help apps better personalize their services based on context...

By Intel Free Press

The 2013 film “Her” featured an operating system that could personalize itself to the user to the extent where the intelligence appeared anything but artificial. By taking cues from user data and its environment, the OS was able to respond to the user’s needs, even on an emotional level. While “Her” was science fiction, progress in the area of contextual computing is bringing such intelligent systems one step closer to science fact.

Story continues...

Silicon Valley And God — Can Churches Solve Local Problems?

Untitled 189

Pat Gelsinger (left) greets SiliconValleyWatcher at a VMware event in February 2015, next to John Furrier of Silicon Angle.

The Silicon Valley/San Francisco region has one of the lowest church attendance populations in the US, 30% below the national average

Silicon Valley's culture is often described as Libertarian and heavily influenced by the thoughts of Ayn Rand, an outspoken atheist. But there is room for everyone and in 2015 we might begin to see some signs that Unicorns and a belief in God, are not mutually exclusive. 

Story continues...

Intel Capital Leagues Ahead In VC M&A Exits

A decade of VC Exits blog image

Intel Capital, the venture capital arm of microprocessor chip giant Intel, had 252 exits by M&A in the ten years since 2005 — a stunning 82 more deals than second placed New Enterprise Associates with 174, and Accel Partners with 148. 

Pitchbook's ten year analysis can be seen above. It has also looked at healthcare IPOs because they have had strong post-IPO gains in 2014.

Newer "Micro-VCs" such as Dave McClure's 500 Startups and Jeff Clavier's Softech VC did well, with 68 and 54 M&A exits respectively. 

Silicon Valley Investments Nearly Quarter Of Global VC


First quarter 2015 Silicon Valley venture capital investments totaled $5.4 billion in 327 deals, representing nearly one-quarter of all VC investments globally. [Source: Pitchbook]

The median pre-money valuation of a startup jumped by 35 per cent in just one quarter to $40.7 million. Industries funded: $2.1 billion in IT  $1.2 billion in healthcare; $1 billion into B2C. A regional breakdown of VC investing: Visualizing VC activity in 1Q ’15 by geography | PitchBook Blog

The Enormous Energy Demands Of The Internet of Things

IMG 6608

Intel Free Press reports that wireless power could become the best way to supply energy to billions of connected devices. If a solution is not found then IoT won't happen...

By Intel Free Press


With 25 billion connected Internet of Things (IoT) devices expected to come online by 2020, finding an adequate and efficient way to power each device is critical to the success of this emerging technology.

A “connected thing” could be anything from a smartphone and laptop, to a wireless sensor network, medical and military equipment. Connected things are also found in electronic signage, digital merchandising and even inventory tagging. And each of these “things” can contain a multitude of sensors.

Story continues...

Intel's Pocket Avatars App Ignored By Millennials...

IL9A4621 1024x685

Intel Free Press writes about a discrete Intel project aimed at Millennials that is having problems reaching millennials because it looks too much like a children's app...[Advice to Intel: If an app flops it never gets a second chance — keep the underlying tech but rework the UI. And use your brand.]

By Intel Free Press

In 2014, Intel navigated into new waters when it released Pocket Avatars, a messaging app available for iOS and Android, which is aimed at the millennial demographic and allows users to send expressive, short video messages using preselected characters or avatars.

While there are an abundance of messaging applications for mobile devices, Pocket Avatars differentiates itself by allowing users to map their facial gestures to a chosen 3D avatar, including the likenesses of Katy Perry, Lego, Annoying Orange and even President Obama.

Story continues...

Ideas Can Be Funny: From Ridiculous Color To Meerkat Love


Meerkat, a live video streaming smartphone app, is the startup of the month judging by screen upon screen of media love for all things Meerkat. But Color, a very similar smartphone app, was ridiculed four years ago.

Color Labs, founded by serial entrepreneur Bill Nguyen (above), raised a $41 million round in March 2011— and triggered a cacophony of clueless criticism in the media.

Story continues...

Laura Locke Profile On Flipboard...


Laura Locke, a long-time San Francisco based journalist for Time magazine and the BBC, is profiled in an interview by Flipboard as part of its promotion of its recently introduced curated magazine format. 

Here is an extract from: What I’m Reading: BBC News Reporter Laura Locke | Flipboard

Story continues...

'Growth Hacking' Makes Me Twitch - 5 Lessons For Enterprises


Erin Steinbrugge is COO of, where she authored the Growth Hacking 101: Rookie Template; and is a contributor to the Accelerate St. Louis startup ecosystem. 

Guest post by Erin Steinbrugge

If there is one area where marketers excel, it’s continually redefining and rebranding the role of marketing itself. As a marketer at heart, I appreciate the continual innovation yet sometimes cringe at the latest and greatest buzzwords and emerging new job titles. The latest title that has caught my fancy and that of Silicon Valley over the last couple years is “growth hacker.”

What exactly is a Growth Hacker?

Story continues...

Bloomberg: How Silicon Valley Back-Room Deals Make Unicorns And Decacorns

2015 03 18 16 37 24

Startup stories rarely focus on the product or service but on the valuation and funds raised, as if that's what's most important about a company.

Valuations are a trend story but on an individual basis, it says little about the viability of a startup business, or the innovations it is pioneering.

Many people get excited or upset about valuations of startups, even though it does not reflect any actual value — as in a public stock company — it simply reflects the views of a very small number of private investors in a private company.  

Startup valuations are manipulated in one way or another, and for a variety of reasons; some of those reasons are reported in this excellent Bloomberg Business story by Sarah Frier and Eric Newcomer: The Fuzzy, Insane Math That's Creating So Many Billion-Dollar Tech Companies

Story continues...

Divino Group Launches

DivinoA shout-out to my friend Chris Knight, co-founder of a brand marketing and PR agency: Divino Group, which launched today! Chris was Global Technology Lead at Ruder Finn and in senior positions at Cohn & Wolfe and GCI Group.

Chris and his six co-founders, want to reinvent the traditional PR agency model. It's a tough job and I wish them the best of luck reinventing PR. Many have tried but the important thing is to keep trying until someone succeeds. Maybe it'll be Divino Group.

Tech + Community: SAP Opens HanaHaus Coffee Shop/Co-Working Space In Palo Alto


SAP, the giant German enterprise software company, today unveiled "HanaHaus" a 15,000 square-foot coffee shop and co-working space located on University Avenue inside the historic Varsity Theater.

SAP has a large research center in Palo Alto. The idea for HanaHaus came from Hasso Plattner, co-founder of SAP,  who's interested in the process of innovation and how people collaborate to create new ideas. 

Story continues...

Angelpad Tops National Accelerator List As Y Combinator Drops Out

Rice University, MIT and the University of Richmond, today at SXSW unveiled their annual list of ranked startup accelerators. Y Combinator was top last year but this year it reclassified itself as a seed fund. 

The top 20:

Story continues...

From Round To Square To Round About Again -Trends In Gadget Designs

Michael Sheehan and Marcus Yam from Intel Free Press show their smart watches at IDF 14. 

Intel Free Press has noticed that square designs are becoming too square and the world is moving to rounded shapes for its wearables and other gizmos... (Why can't we have triangular?)

By Intel Free Press

Take a casual survey of personal technology and electronics on the market today and you will notice the majority of them are rectangular in shape. But there is a rising trend, or perhaps a return, to more rounded design.

The smartwatch is the latest area of debate of round versus square. The circular screen of the Motorola Moto 360 Android Wear watch makes it stand out among competitors with more traditional, rectangular screens, such as the Samsung Gear, Pebble and even the upcoming Apple Watch. Just revealed at the 2015 Mobile World Congress (MWC), the LG Watch Urbane and Huawei Watch smartwatches both also have perfectly round displays.

Why round?

Story continues...

Embargoes And The Rebirth Of Trade Media

Embargo Twitter thread 

In this Guest Post, PR industry veteran Mike Maney makes a strong case for embargoes. I work with embargoes because publishing a press release before its time is not a scoop. If I'm smart enough, I can come up with an original and exclusive angle on an important story, from having time to ask the right questions. 

By Mike Maney

A common complaint among the media is that embargoes are the spawn of Satan. An unnecessary evil foisted upon reporters for the sake of squeezing every last drop of digital ink from a marketer’s jargon-filled pitch.

Story continues...

Congratulations! Ubergizmo's Eliane Fiolet Awarded French 'Knighthood'

IMG 2571

Eliane Fiolet in a Paris subway train on the superb Traveling Geeks trip that she helped organize in December 2009.

Congratulations to Eliane Fiolet, co-founder of Silicon Valley's Ubergizmo news site for being awarded France's  Chevalier de l'Ordre National du Mérite!

The award recognizes exceptional service in the public sphere. Eliane has worked with many French startups, providing advice and sharing her Silicon Valley connections. She also helped the French Embassy Trade Office with a variety of projects. There will be a presentation ceremony on March 17 in Paris. 

Story continues...

Every Company Is A Media Company: Can Journalists Redefine Their Careers?


Thursday evening in San Francisco I will be emceeing an event organized by NerdWallet, exploring the topic of journalists, "redefining their careers outside traditional media."

Newsrooms are still shrinking and some publications, such as GigaOm,  have closed recently. This is pushing companies to fill in the gap in media coverage by producing more of their own media content. Every company is a media company because they have to, they don't have much choice. 

NerdWallet has more than 50 journalists creating content to help people with financial decisions. 

Here's the details:

Story continues...

New Media Disrupted: GigaOm Web Sites Suddenly Stop Publishing


Above, at the recent Crunchies Awards, Om Malik (right) is told by Mike Arrington, founder of news site Techcrunch, that there's far more money in investing in startups than there is in publishing.

The management of GigaOm, the San Francisco-based publisher of tech focused web sites, has abruptly "ceased operations."

GigaOm was founded by Om Malik (above, right). The following notice was posted:

Story continues...

The 'Blue Dress' And The Incredible Scalability Of Content

HeidiDinner 69 2

The recent vast viral distribution of "The Dress" story through Buzzfeed, and many other popular news sites, created a media tsunami.

It's an example of Foremski's First Law of New Media at work!

Story continues...

'Clean Cloud' Panel: Silicon Valley Giants Agree On Green Energy


Sustainability gurus from Facebook, Yahoo and Ebay all agreed that green energy is good for their users and good for the planet, on a panel Tuesday evening in San Francisco at the Commonwealth Club of California.

The "Clean Cloud" event was part of The Commonwealth Club's sustainability initiative, "Climate One." Its goal is, "Changing the conversation about energy, economy and environment" by broadcasting live events featuring local business leaders and advocacy groups.

The panel was moderated by veteran TV and radio presenter Greg Dalton, and founder of Climate One, and will be shown on Northern California stations KRCB TV 22 and heard on PBS radio station KQED.

Story continues...

What's Google Up To? It's Going To Become A Wireless Telco With iIs Own Fat Backbone...

Sometimes the future is very predictable...

Google Confirms Plans for Wireless Service - by Brian Chen.

A person briefed on Google’s plans... said the company wanted to make use of the fiber network it had installed in various cities to create an enormous network of Wi-Fi connections that phones could use to place calls and use apps over the Internet. In areas out of reach, Google’s network would switch over to cell towers leased by T-Mobile USA and Sprint, this person said. - NYTimes March 2 2015

From SiliconValleyWatcher August 2005:

What's Google up to? It's going to become a wireless telco with its own fat backbone...

I think it is very clear what Google's strategy is, or rather has to be. I think it is getting ready to do a wireless telco buy. Because everything is rapidly being walled up into gated communities, and the gatekeepers are the cable companies and the wireless mobile phone companies...

Story continues...

Marissa Mayer Marks Yahoo's 20th Anniversary With Interview

Crunchies2014 87

Steven Levy on Medium's Backchannel, has an exclusive interview with Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, to mark the 20th anniversary of Yahoo and celebrate some of her achievements:

Despite a lift in employee spirits and stock price—Yahoo shares are about triple their value at the summer of 2012, when Mayer joined—her detractors are charging that it’s too little too late...

Yahoo is marking its 20th anniversary, and Mayer wants the event to be seen as more celebration than wake. And after fending off wonkish calculations that the entire worth of her company was owed to its $40 billion share of the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba...

Marissa Mayer Has Completed Step One — Backchannel — Medium

Story continues...

A Profile Of Women In Engineering: Designing Emotionally Tuned Wearables At Intel Labs


The writers at Intel Free Press have prepared a fascinating profile of Ramune Nagisetty, one of Intel's top engineers. She's developing wearables with abilities for emotional communications. [It's designed not just for men.] 

By Intel Free Press

Ramune Nagisetty is a principal engineer within Intel Labs designing wearables that monitor biometrics as well as provide an emotional connection to others. 

Q: What are you working on?

Ramune Nagisetty: For the last couple of years, I have been specifically focused on wearable technology. When I say wearable, I’m talking about wrist-worn form factors and also things like rings and badges.

I’m starting a new project that has to do with maintaining an emotional connection between people through wearables. Every time technology has evolved, one of the first usages for technology has been for people to communicate with each other. 

Story continues...

Redefining Public Relations: Are You Persuaded By 'Earned Influence'?


Paul Holmes (center) gives an award to Inner Circle Labs in early 2014.

Paul Holmes of the Holmes Report, writes that, "The importance of defining public relations has never been greater than it is today."

That’s because as various communications disciplines converge, as corporate reputation and brand image begin to blur, as clients seek solutions that encompass paid and earned and owned and shared media and engage multiple stakeholders, PR people find themselves competing with rivals from advertising, from digital, from other disciplines to offer critical insights, develop truly differentiated strategies, and to provide multichannel execution.

Story continues...

The Crunchies' Bitchgate: High Horses With Fake Unicorn Horns Ignore Decades Of Silicon Valley Misogyny

Crunchies14 00059

Cromwell Schubarth reports on Silicon Valley Business Journal that comedian TJ Miller won't be coming back next year as MC for The Crunchies awards following complaints about his "bitch" remark.

Miller started the show edgy and then went headlong over the edge after getting into a verbal joust with Uber founder Travis Kalanick's date, during which he called her a "bitch" more than once. Gabi Holzwarth, Kalanick's date, forgave Miller in a tweet right after the show.

Story continues...

Atoms Are More Profitable Than Electrons - $AAPL v $GOOG


Google's costly smashed handset strategy.

Take a look at the most recent quarterly financial reports from APPL and GOOG. Apple's quarterly revenues of $75 billion were $9 billion larger than a full year of Google's revenues: $66 billion.

Apple's quarterly income of $18 billion equalled Google's entire quarterly revenues of $18 billion.

Foremski's Take: It's a little shocking to realize that in 2015, well into this new century, Silicon Valley's most profitable and successful company is nearly 40 years old and makes its money selling tech hardware rather than web services. We're still living in the old world.

Story continues...

US Civil Liberties Lawyers Outline Plan To Thwart 'Five Eyes' Mass Surveillance Worldwide

2015 01 27 13 04 30

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a digital civil rights defense group based in San Francisco, unveiled a multi-step plan to end mass surveillance of Internet users anywhere in the world.

Rainey Reitman, Activism Director at EFF, wrote:

Story continues...

Predictive Technologies Will Transform Humans From Buyers To Beings...

Intelligent Design

[A Saturday Post... The future is already here — it just needs some connecting dots...]

If we take our technologies of personalization and predictive business analytics to their ultimate conclusion, in the future we won't need marketing or consumers. Products will just show up at your door.

Inside the box, the shirt or whatever the thing is, everything about it will be perfect: a perfect fit, perfect style, perfect color, perfect price — and perfect timing.

Story continues...

Charlene Li: Engaged Leaders And Intimate Customer Relationships

Untitled 112

Charlene Li, founder of the Altimeter market research group, has a new book coming out in March, "The Engaged Leader." She spoke about the book and her views on social media's impact on marketing, at an event organized by the local chapter of the American Marketing Association, at Weber Shandwick San Francisco.

Here's my notes:

Charlene Li gave a presentation that focused on a message of engagement between brands and consumers. She argued that brands should seek "intimate" relationships with people. The theme of "engagement" in marketing is a signature idea at Altimeter. Li's colleague, Brian Solis also pushes this idea in his book, "Engage!"

Story continues...

Edelman: Global Loss Of Trust Is Bad For Silicon Valley Innovation

Edelman Churchill 148

CEO Richard Edelman (center) discusses "trust" at a Churchill Club event in 2013.

Public trust in business has plunged across the world and is harming consumer acceptance of innovation, according to a survey of 27,000 people in 27 countries by Edelman, the world's largest PR firm.

The 15th Annual Edelman Trust Barometer found levels of trust in business, government, media, and NGOs had sunk below 50% — a crucial marker — in the US, UK, Germany and Japan,  in two-thirds of countries surveyed. Public trust in business had been a rising trend in prior years and represented a recovery from the financial crisis of 2008/9.  

The release of the Trust Barometer report is timed to the same week as the World Economic Forum's Davos conference.  CEO Richard Edelman (above) is always very active at Davos as a speaker and presenter.

For the first time, the survey asked the public questions about their perception of innovation. Very few, (24%) accept the idea that innovation is making the world a better place. Arun Sudhaman at Holme's Report, called it a "blow to Silicon Valley."

Story continues...

The Dirty Politics Of Native Ads - Corrupt Media


I'm a fierce opponent of "native ads" because by their very nature they pretend to be something else, and that damages trust, not just in the publication that hosts them but in all trusted media.

So far, native ads have been sold to product companies such as computer maker Dell, publishing articles in the New York Times that resemble the style of the newspaper's stories. With election season starting up, will we see native ads masquerading as independent political reporting?

Story continues...

Divorcing Personal Tech From Fashion —'Wearables' Need To Be 'Invisibles'

2015 01 07 13 13 04

The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is featuring a lot of "wearables" reports Techcrunch (above) (which all seem to be smart watches).

Foremski's Take: All the fuss over Apple Watch will certainly help sell a lot of watches - regular and smart. I recently started wearing a normal watch.

Story continues...

Media Disruption: Study Shows $6 Billion Stolen From Media Industry


Leslie Kaufman at the New York Times, reported on a study by the Association of National Advertisers into the problem of fake ad clicks:

Study Puts a Price Tag on Fake Ad Clicks -

Story continues...

Veteran Media Exec Dan Farber Joins Salesforce In Strategic Comms Role

DanFarber620  1 of 1

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 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:

Story continues...

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


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.

Story continues...

Vectors Of Engagement And The Click-Free Digital Economy


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

Story continues...

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


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:  

Story continues...

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


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.

Story continues...

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

Lem Cyberiad

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

Story continues...

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

Horn Group and Squid07

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.

Story continues...

Mobile Media Decimation Prompts Say Media Sale


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

Story continues...

Mediaco And Scalable Technologies Of Brand Publishing


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.

Story continues...

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

St Louis 00016

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

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.

Story continues...

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

St Louis 00133 2

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.

Story continues...

Lessons From Richard Edelman's Decade As A Blogger

Edelman Churchill 148

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." 

Story continues...

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

ShootingSF  1 of 1

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."

Story continues...

Silicon Valley's Future Depends On Innovation Beating Scale


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.

Story continues...

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

IMG 0229

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:

Story continues...

Scenic Vista: Tibbr - The $10bn Jewel In The $4.3bn Tibco Sale

Vivek 1

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:

Story continues...

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

Frogs 1

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."

Story continues...

Has Silicon Valley Run Out Of Ideas? Original Ideas Need Original Experiences


Will Oremus, senior technology writer at Slate, reports that, "Silicon Valley Has Officially Run Out of Ideas." Because the recent TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, awarded Alfred, the top prize in its competition for startups. 

Story continues...

Intel Developer Forum In Images...And Backpacks

Untitled 9

Ten years ago I launched Silicon Valley Watcher with a story about the Intel Developer Conference in San Francisco. The post was tongue-in-cheek because I have a theory that Intel's health is best measured by a simple metric: the quality of the backpacks given out at its conferences.

Intel is a notorious penny pincher (except where it matters) and if it is having trouble meeting its quarterly numbers its budget cuts are instant. Intel will even shrink everyone's cubicle space, maybe in the theory that productivity per square foot increases. Co-founder Gordon Moore kept a large round table in his cubicle. He said it was there so that they couldn't shrink his cubicle further.

Ten years ago the Intel backpacks were decent but not as good as those from just six months ago, and signaled a leaner time for the world's largest chip company. This year there seems to be a marked improvement in Intel's fortunes because the backpacks were of a much better quality.

Here's some images from this year's IDF

Story continues...

Intel 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?


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

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

Story continues...

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

Mid Market 55

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


Story continues...

Malwarebytes' CEO Is A Startup Veteran At 24


Google images of Marcin Kleczynski, CEO of Malwarebytes.

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

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

Story continues...

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


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

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

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

Story continues...

Uber Sleazy Tactics: Should Investors Teach Startups Ethics?



Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Photo: JD Lasicka

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

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

Story continues...

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


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

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

Story continues...

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

Facebook  1 of 1

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

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

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

Dan Levine at Reuters reported:

Story continues...

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

2014 08 01 10 45 49

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 

Story continues...

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

20140410 DSC02436

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:

Story continues...

San Francisco's Extraordinary Media Heritage - 12 Daily Newspapers

20140402 DSC02302

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):

Story continues...

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. 

Story continues...

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

IntegrationMural 1 2

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

Story continues...

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

20140515 DSC3662

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.

Story continues...

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

In2Innovation 5

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?

Story continues...

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


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.

Story continues...

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: 

Story continues...

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

Untitled 96

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.

Story continues...

'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.

Story continues...

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


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.

Story continues...

Dressing Too Colorfully - Conversations Among Women In Tech

20140520 DSC4033

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

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

Story continues...

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

20140514 DSC3614

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." 

Story continues...

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


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:


Story continues...

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

Facebook  1 of 1

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: 

Story continues...

SVForum: Rejuvenating One Of Silicon Valley's Oldest Organizations

20140502 DSC03180 2

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).

Story continues...

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

ShawnRiegsecker 1

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.

Story continues...

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


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...

Story continues...

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


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.

Story continues...

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

20140404 DSC02338

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.

Story continues...

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

Hubbies 1 2

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: 

Story continues...

Gild Says Algorithms Can Lift People Out Of Poverty


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.

Story continues...

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 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? 

Story continues...

The News Is Not Free: 14 Journalists Murdered in 2014

2014 04 04 13 24 04

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 

Story continues...

San Francisco's First Look At New Microsoft CEO

Satya Nadella 01898

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.

Story continues...

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. 

Story continues...

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

Edelman Churchill 232

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.” 

Story continues...

Nielsen Study Finds Very Poor Performance For Branded Content

2014 03 26 15 53 11

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:

Story continues...

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

2014 03 26 12 57 41

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 -

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. 

Story continues...

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

Edelman Churchill 325

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.

Story continues...

Remembering IDG's Gentle Media Giant Pat McGovern

20090303 PatrickMcGovern

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.

Story continues...

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


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.

Story continues...

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


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?

Story continues...

Andreessen's News Media Analysis Ridiculed - Updated

Andreessen 1

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. 

Story continues...

Scoop! NASDAQ Finally Launches Private Company Market


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.

Story continues...

Early Tech Journalist Dan Farber Leaves CBS/CNET

DanFarber620  1 of 1

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

Story continues...

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


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

Story continues...

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?

Story continues...

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


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. 

Story continues...

Photo Essay: A Night At The Crunchies...

Crunchies2014 49

Story continues...

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


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

Story continues...

Original Ideas In Silicon Valley Are Like Bitcoins

Horn Group and Squid07

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.

Story continues...

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


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:

Story continues...

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

In2Innovation 5

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.

Story continues...

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


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:

Story continues...

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

2014 01 28 10 56 24

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.  

Story continues...

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

Story continues...

Introducing A Media Display Technology Without Equal


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.

Story continues...

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


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. 

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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. 

Story continues...

San Francisco's Incredible History Of Media Innovation


Deyoung 1

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. 

Story continues...

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. 

Story continues...

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

IntegrationMural 1 2

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.

Story continues...

The Indifference Of Tech Companies That Make A Difference

IntegrationMural 1

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. 

Story continues...

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


Heather Knight’s report on 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.

Story continues...

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

DanFarber620  1 of 1

Story continues...

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

Edelman Churchill 232

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?

Story continues...

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

TwitterDoors  1 of 1

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. 

Story continues...

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


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.

Story continues...

Segregation Of Tech Workers Leads To Mistrust And Conflict

Untitled  1 of 1

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. 

Story continues...

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


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?

Story continues...

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

GoogleGlass 492

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

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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

Shameonfeinstein  1 of 1

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.

Story continues...

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

EngelbartEvent  2 of 14

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.

Story continues...

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

Standing Desk

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.

Story continues...

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


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


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.”

Story continues...

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

Google taxes

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.

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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


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. 

Story continues...

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

Eastwick dinner 10

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:

Story continues...

Silicon Valley Legends At Homebrew Club Reunion


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:

Story continues...

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

IArchiveFire 2

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:

Story continues...

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 -

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. 

Story continues...

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


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."

Story continues...

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

TreasureIsland 1 2

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

Story continues...

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

HR  1 of 1

(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 reports: Tech, social media employers offer perks aplenty 

Story continues...

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


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:

Story continues...

The Loss Of The Unmonitored Self

RobotPress  1 of 1

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. 

Story continues...

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


TwitterStreetToo 2

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: 

Story continues...

MediaWatch: Billionaires Can't Save Journalism

MediaVac 1

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 -]

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

Story continues...

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

MarissaMayer 1

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.

Story continues...

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

Chart 1  1

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. 

Story continues...

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

Vivek 1

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.

Story continues...

A Simple Way To Hire For Diversity: Blackout Candidate Names

Screen 1

Krissy Clark reporting for 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!

Story continues...

The Less Sunny Side Of Twitter's Street...

TwitterStreetToo 2

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. 

Story continues...

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

OscarWilde1882 1

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

Gary Kamiya tells stories on, 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. 

Story continues...

Marshall Kirkpatrick: Little Bird On Market Street

Marshall 3

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. 

Story continues...

IT Research Firm Gartner Warns Of Social Unrest

RobotPress  1 of 1

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.

Story continues...

Vanity Fair Will Publish Investigation Into Michael Arrington

JennAllen 1 2

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.

Story continues...

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

OldMan 1

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

Story continues...

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

Googleplex 1710 2

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

Story continues...

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


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:


Story continues...

Fortune Asks 'Why Does America Hate Silicon Valley?'

Facebook  1 of 1

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: 

Story continues...

Circa Relaunches News Rewrite App - Are Rewrites A Business?

Circateam  1 of 1

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."

Story continues...

Silk Road Shutdown Benefits International Crime Syndicates, Bitcoin Unharmed

ShootingSF  1 of 1

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.

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

The Dismal Failure Of Big Data

HilaryMason  1 of 1

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.

Story continues...

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


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. 

Story continues...

Meet Silicon Valley's Top VC Publicist...

2013 09 23 15 06 26

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:

Story continues...

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

RestoretheFourthAug  7 of 13

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

Story continues...

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

FlipboardTeamAtWorkInTheOffice thumb

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

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

Google's Life-Extension Venture Is About Employee Retention

HR  1 of 1

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.

Story continues...

[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:

Story continues...

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 reported: Twitter posts inaccurately high metrics about its ads, changes them after questions

Story continues...

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


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. 

Story continues...

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

1208780 583830771675190 771545354 n

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.

Story continues...

Spies In Disguise: NSA Pretends To Be Google

2013 09 12 16 46 51

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

Story continues...

New Brooms At Intel Want Change - Good Luck With That


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

Story continues...

What Have You Bought That Was Marketed To You Online?


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.

Story continues...

Role Models: Big Challenges Fuel Max Levchin's Ambitions

ThielLevchin thumb

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


Story continues...

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

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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

Story continues...

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

2013 09 05 12 38 24

 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.

Story continues...

Remembering Russia's Extraordinary Visionary: Ilya Segalovich


"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.

Story continues...

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

2013 08 28 12 18 21

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:

Story continues...

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

Story continues...

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 |


Story continues...

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

Ballmer  1 of 1

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: 

Story continues...

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.)

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

The News Is Not Free… 33 Journalists Killed This Year


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?

Story continues...

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


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.

Story continues...

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

1Hacker Way  1 of 1

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 -

This part was interesting:

Story continues...

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


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:

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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)

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

Uncomfortable Facts About The Bezos Washington Post

Bezos  1 of 1

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:

Story continues...

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


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: 

Story continues...

Living in Silicon Valley...

Fake problems

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

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

Daniel Ellsberg Speaks At "Restore the Fourth" in SF

RestoretheFourthAug  7 of 13

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:

Story continues...

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


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

Story continues...

The Incredible Lessons From Fashion's Free Culture

2013 08 04 11 27 14

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.)

Story continues...

End Of An Era: Social Media Club Founders Step Down

ChrisHeuer2  1 of 1

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:

Story continues...

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."

Story continues...

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:

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.

Story continues...

10-Year Study Erases VC 'Smart Money' Claims

2013 07 31 16 00 12

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.

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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

Story continues...

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. 

Story continues...

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

LorenPals  1 of 1

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.

Story continues...

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

VCDinner  1 of 1

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:

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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

Data center blueprint 1024x725

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

Story continues...

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

9310965396 4f953735ee o

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. 

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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

Story continues...

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. 

Story continues...

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."

Story continues...

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

Story continues...

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

Story continues...

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]

Story continues...

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

RayKurzweil  1 of 1

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.

Story continues...

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

ArtLife  1 of 1

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.

Story continues...

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

HR  1 of 1

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]:

Story continues...

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

2013 07 16 09 38 56

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.

Story continues...

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: 

Story continues...

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. 

Story continues...

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). 

Story continues...

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."

Story continues...

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

RestoreTheFourth  7 of 18

("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

Story continues...

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."

Story continues...

VCs Hire Lots Of Women - But Not As VCs

2013 07 08 21 11 06

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:

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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) -

Story continues...

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

RestoreTheFourth  7 of 7

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:

Story continues...

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

DougEnglebart  1 of 1

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.

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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

Art market2

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):

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

Techno-Optimists Celebrated In Silicon Valley Visionary Awards

Visionaries2013  1 of 1

(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.

Story continues...

The BS 'Democratisation' Of Education By Online Ventures

2013 06 28 14 13 02

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. 

Story continues...

Skimlinks Says Affiliate Payouts Short-Change Publishers

Qatar  109 of 115

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:

Story continues...

San Francisco's Hipster Versus Hipster Culture Wars

FoodTrucks  1 of 1

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.




Story continues...

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

Story continues...

How Secure Are The NSA Spy Lines?

Corp Vac

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? 

Story continues...

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. 

Story continues...

How Google Killed Online Advertsing For Everyone (Else)


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.

Story continues...

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


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.

Story continues...

Every Company Is A Media Company - My European Tour

Soho -00583.jpg

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.

Story continues...

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

Haight Street Fair posters 1

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. 

Story continues...

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

Palace of Culture 1

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."

Story continues...

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

Renee James 2

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.

Story continues...

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

Story continues...

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


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.

Story continues...

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

IntelBoard  1

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. 

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

Paris Is Putting "Entrepreneur" Back Into The French Language

ParisParis 1

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

Story continues...

Worries About The Web And Google's Place In It


The above comment is from Aaron Wall's excellent -- 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.

Story continues...

Robert Scoble's Naked Enthusiasm

Robert Shower

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.

Story continues...

A New Meaning To "Glassy Eyed Stare?"


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.

Story continues...

Google Glass Is A Great Idea For The Old And Demented

OldMan 1

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.

Story continues...

Google Glass - Innovating A Social Failure?

GGlass  1 of 1 4

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

A Tour: New Exploratorium Just Like The Old Exploratorium

New Exploratorium2 1 2

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:

Story continues...

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


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

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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. 

Story continues...

Sean Maloney: The Man Who Could Have Led Intel


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.

Story continues...

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


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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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

Maloneybarrettotellini v1 620x456

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.

Story continues...

WSJ Confirms SVW Scoop On NASDAQ Private Shares Market

SVW Nasadaq1 0154

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.

Story continues...

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

Story continues...

Silicon Valley Remains King - Schadenfreude Festivities Postponed Yet Again

Facebook Campus

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.

Story continues...

The Steve Jobs Way: Intersecting Psychedelics And Technology

PsychedelicSF Markoff

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

Edelman Global Survey Finds Lack Of Trust Has Become Contagious

SVW Edelman 146 2

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.

Story continues...

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

Corp Vac


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, 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 |

He writes:

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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

InternetArchive500  1 of 1 2

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.

Story continues...

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

SVW 203

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

Story continues...

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?

InternetArchive500  1 of 1

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). 

Story continues...

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

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?


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:

Story continues...

2013 Prediction: The Unstoppable Rise Of Corporate Media ... And The Deflationary Spiral Of All Media Content

Corp Vac

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...

Story continues...

SAP Launches Real Time Business Apps Suite

Hasso Plattner

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."

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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."

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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.

Some photos from the event:

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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 (above).

Story continues...

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).

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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 -

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:

Story continues...

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?

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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).

Story continues...

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).

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

'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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

The Fast Unravelling Web: How Google Is Killing The Hyperlink


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:

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

'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:

Story continues...

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:

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.

Story continues...

Media Under Seige: Billionaire Gina Rinehart Changes Strategy On Fairfax Media


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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

Are You Ready For The Human--Cell Phone Mind Meld?


("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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

Is This Why Larry Ellison Bought Lanai?


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.

Story continues...

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


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.


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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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 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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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?

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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]

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

The Rise And Shine Of The 17 Hour-a-Day Journalist


... 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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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


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.

Story continues...

De Young Museum Workers Protest Union Busting And Cuts In Benefits


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.

Story continues...

Zuckerberg Won't Share - IPO Will Consolidate His Total Control


(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.


Story continues...

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

BR 9179

(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:

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

Cisco's NDS: The Future Of TV Is TV - All Wall And All You...


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:

Story continues...

Turkey Looks To Tech And Youth To Transform Its Economy


2264352319 be3beb393a b

(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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

Telemedicine For The Masses: Experts On Wheels


(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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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...

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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."

Story continues...

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?

Story continues...

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.

Last Import - 111.jpg

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.)

Story continues...

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

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

Thought Leaders: JP Rangaswami - Chief Scientist At recently held its Cloudforce conference. I caught up with its Chief Scientist JP Rangaswami, who's based in the UK.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.)

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.)

Story continues...

'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:

Story continues...

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

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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?

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

'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:

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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."

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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?

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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?

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

Google's Strategy To Boost Its G+ Social Network Risks Harming Quality Of Search Warns SEO Expert


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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

"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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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...


Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

SEO Is Not Free Traffic...

Here's an excellent infographic from SEOBook explaining the world of search engine optimization, a somewhat "dark" art...

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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?

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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".

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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).

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

Interview: Former ICANN Chairman Peter Dengate-Thrush On New Domain Names


(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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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,, 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:

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

A Bottoms Up Approach To News? Newspapers' Reach Is Greater Than Internet's

Here's an interesting report on from the World Newspaper Congress and World Editors Forum in Vienna, Austria, and a survey of 69 countries:

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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."

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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...

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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?

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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?

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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."

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

Marc Benioff Seems Like Larry Ellison...

Dreamforce 2011 has taken over downtown San Francisco, closing down streets, just like Larry Ellison's Oracle World.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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?

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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?"

Story continues...

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...

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

'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:

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

Infographic: How Much Do Engineers Earn?

Rivera Partners put together salary data on software engineers:

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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?

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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."

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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...

Story continues...

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."

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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."

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

MediaWatch Monday: Interview With Matt Mullenweg On The Future Of WordPress

(Photo credit:
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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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?

Story continues...

Really?! MoFo Tech - A Newsletter From Silicon Valley Lawyers


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:

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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?

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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).

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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?

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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?

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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?

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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)

Story continues...

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%.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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?

Story continues...

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]

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

Charlie Sheen To Join HP Board, Follows Appointment Of 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 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.

Story continues...

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).

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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?

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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?"

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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//"


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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

IBM 100 Years: From Cheese Slicers To Supercomputers


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..."

Story continues...

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.

Story continues...

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:

Story continues...

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.

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!

Story continues...

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!

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? - 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?

Story continues...

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, 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 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".

Story continues...

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
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.

Story continues...

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,, 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 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, 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."

(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)

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:


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.

- - -
Please See:

Twitter's Ev Williams and Biz Stone At Inforum: Surprisingly Little Insight Into Twitter... - SVW Dull Games Play Vital Life Support For Older, Single Women

Jerry Kaplan is a serial entrepreneur know for, Go Pen Computers, and his book, Startup: A Silicon Valley Adventure.

His latest venture, 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.

- - -
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...


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.


- 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 pione