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Preview: Silicon Valley Watcher - at the intersection of technology and media

Silicon Valley Watcher — at the collision of technology and media



Former Financial Times journalist Tom Foremski provides insight into the business and culture of Silicon Valley.



Updated: 2017-10-18T00:01:20Z

 



CultureWatch: A Crowded Bus All To Myself

2017-10-18T00:01:20Z

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...

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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.  

(image)

 

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.”

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- - - 

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...

2017-10-17T03:26:35Z

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...

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 :) 

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




$GOOG's X And The Science Of Media Distraction

2017-10-15T00:22:29Z

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... 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

2017-10-12T21:48:15Z

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...

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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

2017-10-05T23:55:20Z

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... 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

2017-10-04T02:36:34Z

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...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Intel:

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

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




Elsevier Adds Fourth California Acquisition:

2017-08-15T19:33:20Z

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....

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.

Three University of California professors founded Bepress in 1999 to make it easier for academics and their institutions to showcase their work in many different formats from academic papers, to books and more. And bepress also tracks downloads and engagement with the content.

I spoke with Jean-Gabriel Bankier, CEO of Bepress since 2009.

"We have millions of papers that are available for free because each university is in competition for students and faculty and funding -- they want to show the world what they have."

Bankier said that in addition to its cloud-based content management system Elsevier also gets a sophisticated analytics technology that provides data on who has accessed the information -- important for evaluating faculty and research.

There are significant benefits from the Elsevier acquisition says Bankier.

"Elsevier's databases have collected significant amounts of metadata around our articles and content which will add considerable value to our users -- we are very excited."

He added that this removes some doubts among potential customers that the company will survive.

Elsevier has been making several similar acquisitions over the past five years: Mendeley, Plum Analytics, and SSRN.

Additional information from the news release:

Bepress allows institutions to collect, organize, preserve and disseminate their intellectual output, including pre-prints, working papers, journals or specific articles, dissertations, theses, conference proceedings and a wide variety of other data.

 ...

By joining Elsevier, bepress can better address institutional promotional needs, such as compete for students, faculty and grants and preserve research data and outputs. Elsevier's suite of products such as Scopus, Pure, SSRN and SciVal suite will enhance the breadth and quality of the reach, promotion and impact services that bepress delivers to its customers.

... 

Bepress' "digital commons" platform supports institutional platforms by providing cross-repository aggregation and referencing by type of content or author into 'Commons' or 'Networks'. Bepress currently has content containing over 2 million articles and 100 million annual downloads.




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

2017-08-02T04:02:22Z

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.... 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.  Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant, Bixby, and there’s more coming — are great if you want some information to win a bet with your buddies, or set a timer — Siri is brilliant at setting a timer. But the way they handle apps is terrible yet this is where the largest and most significant business opportunity lies. The future will be voice operated. This means whoever does voice initiated tasks the best will win a strategic victory as the gateway to a user’s daily commercial and computing interactions, at work and at home. But there’s still a lot that needs to happen before we will be able to use voice as a powerful user interface. It has to be very good at handling my applications — as good as if I were to talk to a human assistant. Take a look at these possible voice commands:  - Deliver the items on my weekly shopping list Friday afternoon and check for lowest prices on the produce.  - I need Alphabet’s quarterly revenues for the past two years broken out by Adwords, and Adsense revenues in a graph plotted against traffic acquisition costs and mark the quarters that beat Wall Street estimates. - Find the photos from last Saturday’s picnic, adjust for white balance and send me only the shots with me and my brother for review then email them to my mother.  In these examples the voice gateway could choose alternate suppliers or band together with other buyers for lower prices plus there was no need to specify an app just the action and outcome. That’s a lot of power in the hands of the digital assistant. Apps are key… If digital assistant can control apps — and navigate their command structure to perform a complex set of connected tasks that might be called different things within different apps — then this is a huge step forward for computer literacy because people can voice the outcome they want without needing the skills to operate the software. People that haven’t learned how to use computers will get nearly the same [...]



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

2017-06-27T23:16:39Z

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... 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. The selection process requires considerable time from the applicants with written submissions and interviews. And it requires considerable time from a large network of academics in top universities to select the best out of an already exceptional group of brilliant graduates. Each submission requires four letters of reference and candidates are evaluated om creativity, drive, and innovation. Two personal interviews are required. Applicants that show entrepreneurial traits and own patents are favored in the selection process. The Hertz Fellows receive five-year grants at any university they choose without any restrictions -- a rare feature with the majority grants tied to institutions or specific areas of research. They also have access to and support from the community of all the other Fellows for mentoring and problem solving. The goal is to encourage a cross-discipline approach to new ideas. Testimonials... Here are some of the testimonials from Hertz Fellows about the importance of the grants and the value of the continuing programs and events. Here are some of the testimonials from Hertz Fellows about the importance of the grants and the value of the continuing programs and events. "This incredible academic freedom is only surpassed by the extraordinary students, entrepreneurs, and professors I have had the privilege of meeting through Hertz Foundation events, such as the Fellows retreats and the Hertz Symposium." Gleb Akselrod Massachusetts Institute of Technology Hertz Fellow 2012 T.J. Rodgers, founder of Cypress Semiconductor and Astro Teller, head of Google's "moonshots" lab are among Silicon Valley's better known Hertz Fellows. A rising elite... The Hertz selection process is very rigorous and meticulous and it works very well. The foundation has become so good at it that it has attracted notice from other organizations also interested in discovering and funding the best emerging science graduates. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently announced a $5 million grant to fund two new Fellows in Global Health and Development. The new Fellows will spend two summers working with scientists as interns on projects funded by the Gates Foundation. Robbee Baker Kosak, president of the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation, says that the partnership came about because of people working at t[...]



More Bad News For Media Industry In KPCB Internet Report

2017-06-02T02:18:19Z

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... 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:  - Meeker points to an open $16 billion annual opportunity in mobile ads in the US market which should be good news for media companies. However, huge numbers of people with ad blockers are blocking this money. Google and Facebook are less affected by this issue and are making a fortune in mobile ads. - Meeker warns that tying ad metrics to return on investment is a huge challenge and that there is a "triple-edge" to having accurate data. You might not like what it reveals and some publishers will suffer. - Consumers say they want targeted ads but they don't want to be tracked which is a huge problem for publishers. Google and Facebook have a huge advantage over other media companies because they don’t need cookies to target users due to logins and popular services. - Media companies cannot compete with new services from Google and Facebook on real-time conversions; incorporating location based ads; and demonstrating offline effects by showing retailers how they drive foot traffic in addition to online traffic. [I called it "Vectors of Engagement" in a 2014 column.]  - In perspective: Last year Google and Facebook took $5.67 for each $1 of new business won by other media. It's an accelerating trend: A year ago the duo took $3.17 in new business for each $1 for everyone else. Meeker calls this pace of media disruption "torrid". Foremski's Take: "The trend is your friend" is sage Wall Street investment advice but there is nothing friendly about these Internet trends for any media company other than Google and Facebook. They used to compete aggressively against each other with Google launching its own social media network and Facebook aligning with Microsoft in search. But those ventures were sidelined by the end of 2014 in favor of exploiting business opportunities in their areas.  This accelerating dominance of Google and Facebook in online advertising is being examined by European Union regulators. However, any regulatory actions will do nothing to help reverse the fortunes of struggling media companies without the availability of a stable media business model accessible to all . Also, the Meeker report does nothing to address a massive issue for all media companies: online ads continue to lose value. For example, Google reports less money per ad but somehow each quarter it manages to show even more of them and sail past Walls Street analyst estimates. Greater numbers of less effective adv[...]



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

2017-06-02T02:07:23Z

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...

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.

But newspapers and traditional media companies are legally responsible for what they publish and this raises their costs of business substantially because they need editors, sub-editors, moderators and lawyers to review content before publication. 

Both the tech platforms and the media companies look very similar: they all publish pages of content with advertising.

So why does one type of company have to comply with legal and cultural norms for content while the other doesn’t? It’s a distinction that is fast disappearing as the platform companies hire people to edit their content.

You’d think the problem would yield to a solution combining algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI) especially with all the hype around AI.  Facebook’s 3,000 editors is a massive 66% increase and flags the failure of technology and the wisdom of the crowd as a solution. 

Is Facebook no longer a platform company? This has huge implications for the sector.




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

2017-05-04T01:06:34Z

Women in IT jobs are more likely to have a college degree than their male colleagues but are paid about 6 per cent less. The survey commissioned by Spiceworks, a professional network for IT workers, found that despite the salary and education gap between genders, most IT professionals are happy with their jobs and with their colleagues. The survey polled 607 IT staff in the US with jobs such as IT managers, network/ system administrators and help desk technicians.  Here are some of the findings: - Women earn a median salary that's about 6% below male colleagues. It's a much smaller pay gap than in the US average of 20% lower. - 82% of women have a college degree or...

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

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

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

Here are some of the findings:

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

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

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

IT salaries are not as high as might be expected:

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

- 41% said they are underpaid.

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

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

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

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

It can be a stressful job:

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

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

There are more results from the survey here.




Alphabet/Google Q1 Fails To Reverse Ad Value Slide

2017-04-28T21:12:32Z

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...

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:

(image)

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

2017-04-28T04:11:30Z

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... 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.  - To understand the social media platforms such as Twitter it is important to be active in them. - It is important to be responsive to any complaints and to give the social manager managers the authority to quickly respond and to take conversations to a private channel. - Standardizing on a set of tools and metrics is important. The changing nature of digital media should be supported by the toolset and integrated into the management dashboards. - The media landscape is constantly changing that’s why the CMO has to be involved and needs to publish a lot. Conn is very active online and offline as a speaker.  Foremski’s Take: Grad Conn is a near perfect example of what a tech company CMO should be like. - He is not afraid of attention — look at the way he dresses. - He is active in social media, blogging, video and is a frequent speaker at conferences. - He has built a social media center and trained hundreds of social media managers to act independently and independently react to any crisis with full trust of the management. - He knows what tools to use and how to use them and why.  - He understands that what works today in marketing might not work for long and that new marketing processes will likely be needed. - He can make a quick decision and be confident that it is the right one for that particular time.  Marketing is most definitely an art otherwise you could just buy your marketing outcomes from a menu. And like all the arts it requires experience and practice. It cannot be achieved by managing a process — a machine can do that. Most CMOs have mostly none of the above qualities demonstrated by Conn. Most CMOs are extremely cautious and curiously are publicity shy. But they know how to keep their CVs updated. [ A version of this article first appeared on ZDNet: In My Humble Opinion.]  [...]



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

2017-04-06T03:21:29Z

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."... 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." S&P will provide each student with "eMentors" recruited from its global workforce of around 20,000 in 31 countries. Mentors play a critical role in the success of female students moving into high-tech jobs especially if they come from communities without any female role models in technical professions -- which is nearly universal. There's a long pipeline of skilled female tech workers that needs to be filled from younger female students before US tech corporations will be able to significantly improve diversity in the workplace. Some companies such as S&P are willing to look ahead and prime the pump. "We realize the importance of a diverse workforce and are committed to supporting the next generation of women leaders in technology, math and analytics," said S&P Chief Information Officer Krishna Nathan. [The Global Classroom begins April 10, 2017 to May 26, 2017. Please visit: http://globalclassroom.girlsintech.org/.] - - - I'm a big fan of Girls in Tech and its founder Adriana Gascoigne. I've known her since she founded the organization in 2007 here in San Francisco and now it's the world's largest non-profit focused on educating females in high-tech skills. She’s recruited a great team that runs an organization with more than 50,000 members and 60 chapters in cities around the world. Adriana's leadership has been fearless and persistent and she has kept the organization stubbornly focused on its mission. And I greatly admire how she's never distracted by the small-minded critics that pop up from time to time because of her use of "Girls..." Here is a quote from my 2008 interview (above): "It is important to embrace femininity, to embrace girliness," says Ms Gascoigne. "Too many women think they need to be more like men to succeed. You don't." Ms Gascoigne says she was lucky growing up, her parents encouraged her to be very self-confident, but that's not true for many women. Being in a heavily male dominated workplace can be intimidating. It was this realization that led Ms Gascoigne to create the Girls in Tech organization. Girls In Tech Expands To New York, LA, And Beyond [...]