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Updated: 2018-01-20T13:00:00+00:00

 



There are problems with Apple’s iPhone battery explanation — and the company might end up paying the price in court (AAPL) [Silicon Alley Insider]

2018-01-20T05:00:00-08:00

Apple is under fire for a software feature that slows down the speed of iPhone processors to prevent unexpected device shutdowns. Congress, attorneys, and customers are criticizing Apple for not being clearer when the feature was introduced in early 2017.  Apple's CEO says that when Apple "did put it out, we did say what it was." The feature was not mentioned in the release notes accompanying the update, but Apple quietly revised the notes to include a line about "power management" at some point after the update was released.  Apple is under fire for a software feature distributed to iPhones in 2017 that prevents shutdowns in devices with older batteries, in part by slowing down the clock speeds of their processors.  Congress, several international consumer protection agencies, and an estimated 45 class-action lawsuits are asking questions, and wondering if users should have been better informed that Apple was making a tradeoff between iPhone stability and speed. Basically, many users feel that Apple should have let them know that a software update was going to slow down their phone, or given them a choice not to turn the update on. Apple says a phone with the feature active can take longer to launch apps and can display lower frame rates.  Here's how Apple's CEO explained the problem in an ABC interview earlier this week:  "About a year ago, we released some code, that essentially what it does, is all batteries age over time, and they become unhealthy in a point in time," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in his first public comments on the controversy. "An unhealthy battery has a probability that it will create an unexpected restart." "When we did put it out, we did say what it was, but I don't think a lot of people were paying attention, and maybe we should have been clearer as well," he continued.  But even an Apple user who was paying attention would not have known about the feature had they downloaded the update shortly after it was available. Apple documents any major new features or improvements alongside new software updates in messages called "release notes." For people who don't read tech blogs, this is often the way they learn what's new in a software update.   There was no mention of the CPU throttling feature or "power management" included with the release notes that accompanied the software update on January 23. However, release notes associated with the software update, quietly revised on Apple's website after the software's release, now mention "power management during peak workloads."  A month without mention  According to Apple's December 28 message to customers, the throttling feature was first included in the software update for iOS 10.2.1, which was released on January 23, 2017. For minor updates, release notes can be as short as a sentence, but for major updates, like when a new iPhone comes out, they can be pages long.  On January 23, the update was called a "point update," signaling that Apple did not consider it a major software update. The release notes only said it contained "bug fixes," and security patches, according to Forbes, which published a screenshot of the release notes from an iPhone, which is different from the notes now listed on Apple's website.  Blog posts from 9to5Mac and MacRumors at the time also say that the release notes were short and didn't mention power management.  Apple finally acknowledged the battery feature one month later after iOS 10.2.1 on February 23, in a press statement reported by TechCrunch, saying the feature was already on "over 50% of active iOS devices" and that its test data showed that it had reduced the occurrence of an annoying shutdown problem. TechCrunch also published some high-level explanation of the bug on February 23 and why Apple addressed it. That was the first time Apple publicly disclosed the feature that is now drawing attention from Congress, and over half of iOS device users had already installed it with no warning or signal of any new power management feature. The[...]



THE AI DISRUPTION BUNDLE: The guide to understanding how artificial intelligence is impacting the world (AMZN, AAPL, GOOGL) [Silicon Alley Insider]

2018-01-20T02:05:00-08:00

This is a preview of a research report bundle from BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about BI Intelligence, click here. Artificial intelligence (AI) isn't a part of the future of technology. AI is the future of technology. Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg have even publicly debated whether or not that will turn out to be a good thing. Voice assistants like Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa have become more and more prominent in our lives, and that will only increase as they learn more skills. These voice assistants are set to explode as more devices powered by AI enter the market. Most of the major technology players have some sort of smart home hub, usually in the form of a smart speaker. These speakers, like the Amazon Echo or Apple HomePod, are capable of communicating with a majority of WiFi-enabled devices throughout the home. While AI is having an enormous impact on individuals and the smart home, perhaps its largest impact can be felt in the e-commerce space. In the increasingly cluttered e-commerce space, personalization is one of the key differentiators retailers can turn towards to stand out to consumers. In fact, retailers that have implemented personalization strategies see sales gains of 6-10%, at a rate two to three times faster than other retailers, according to a report by Boston Consulting Group. This can be accomplished by leveraging machine learning technology to sift through customer data to present the relevant information in front of that consumer as soon as they hit the page. With hundreds of hours of research condensed into three in-depth reports, BI Intelligence is here to help get you caught up on what you need to know on how AI is disrupting your business or your life. Below you can find more details on the three reports that make up the AI Disruption Bundle, including proprietary insights from the 16,000-member BI Insiders Panel: AI in E-Commerce Report One of retailers' top priorities is to figure out how to gain an edge over Amazon. To do this, many retailers are attempting to differentiate themselves by creating highly curated experiences that combine the personal feel of in-store shopping with the convenience of online portals. These personalized online experiences are powered by artificial intelligence (AI). This is the technology that enables e-commerce websites to recommend products uniquely suited to shoppers, and enables people to search for products using conversational language, or just images, as though they were interacting with a person. Using AI to personalize the customer journey could be a huge value-add to retailers. Retailers that have implemented personalization strategies see sales gains of 6-10%, a rate two to three times faster than other retailers, according to a report by Boston Consulting Group (BCG). It could also boost profitability rates 59% in the wholesale and retail industries by 2035, according to Accenture. This report illustrates the various applications of AI in retail and use case studies to show how this technology has benefited retailers. It assesses the challenges that retailers may face as they implement AI, specifically focusing on technical and organizational challenges. Finally, the report weighs the pros and cons of strategies retailers can take to successfully execute AI technologies in their organization. The Smart Speaker Report Smart speakers — Amazon's Echo, for example — are the latest device category poised to take a chunk of our increasingly digital lives. These devices are made primarily for the home and execute a user's voice commands via an integrated digital assistant. These digital assistants can play music, answer questions, and control other devices within a user's home, among other things. The central question for this new product category is not when they will take off, but which devices will rise to the top. To answer this question, BI Intelligence surveyed our leading-edge consumer panel, gathering exclusive data on A[...]



We went to a luxury watchmaker to see how some of the rarest and most complex watches in the UK are made [Silicon Alley Insider]

2018-01-20T01:00:00-08:00

  • We visited luxury watchmakers Garrick England, who gave us an exclusive look at their newest watch, the £28,000 "S1."
  • The watch is made entirely by hand, taking four months to complete. They showed us some of the processes involved in making one of the most complex watches seen in the UK.
  • There is currently only one "S1" in the world, with an estimated total quantity of around 10, making it one of the rarest watches in the world. 

 

Business Insider was given an exclusive look at how one of the rarest and most complex watches in the UK are made.

Luxury watchmakers Garrick England, have created the "S1," a "skeleton" watch that's made and carefully crafted by hand, taking a total of around four months to make. We were shown some of the processes involved in creating the watch, including how the hands of the watch are coloured and how the wheels of the gears are cut.

Currently, only one version of the £28,000 S1 watch exists, with a possible estimated total quantity of around 10 models; making it one of the rarest watches in the world. 

Filmed and Produced by David Ibekwe. Special Thanks to Russell Sheldrake and Garrick England

Join the conversation about this story »

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Mustafa Suleyman: The liberal activist who cofounded Google's £400 million artificial intelligence lab (GOOG) [Silicon Alley Insider]

2018-01-20T01:00:00-08:00

Mustafa Suleyman is a 33-year-old entrepreneur and activist.  He sold his artificial intelligence company DeepMind to Google for £400 million in 2014.  Suleyman dropped out of university and worked as an activist before getting involved in artificial intelligence.  Mustafa Suleyman is one of the three cofounders of DeepMind, an artificial intelligence (AI) lab in London that was acquired by Google in 2014 for a reported £400 million — the search giant's largest acquisition in Europe to date.  Listen to a few of Suleyman's talks on YouTube and you'll quickly realise that he's a left-leaning activist who wants to make the world a better place for everyone as opposed to an elite few. He differs from many of today's tech founders in that he genuinely seems to care about the welfare of everyone on the planet. The 33 year old — affectionately known as "Moose" internally at DeepMind and amongst his friends — lives in Peckham, South London, with his artist fiancée. He can often be seen on Twitter retweeting Labour politicians such as Jeremy Corbyn and making his thoughts known on issues like homelessness, diversity, and inequality.  DeepMind may be owned by one of the largest companies in the world but Suleyman strongly believes capitalism is failing society in a number of areas. He explained this during a talk at a Google event last May.  "We believe today that in some sense, capitalism in many ways has delivered so much for us over the last couple of centuries," Suleyman said at a Google ZeitgeistMinds event in London. "We've delivered so much progress. No other construct or idea has been able to distribute benefits so broadly and so rapidly. And yet in many areas, capitalism is currently failing us. We actually need a new kind of set of incentives to tackle some of the most pressing and urgent social problems and we need a new kind of tool, a new kind of intelligence, that is distributed, that is scaled, that is accessible, to try and make sense of some of the complexity that is overwhelming us." DeepMind's not-so-simple mission is to solve intelligence and then to use that to solve everything else. The company is building complex algorithms that can learn for themselves using techniques similar to those seen in the human brain. Ultimately, it hopes to end up with something that works like an artificial hippocampus — the part of the brain that is mainly associated with memory, and long-term memory in particular.  Since its incorporation in 2011, DeepMind has been aggressively hiring some of the smartest computer scientists, neuroscientists, mathematicians, and physicists around the world. Today it employs around 700 people across offices in the UK (London), Canada (Edmonton and Montreal), and the US (Mountain View). The vast majority of DeepMind's staff (over 500 people) are currently located across two floors in Google's main office in London's King's Cross.  Unlike his cofounders, Suleyman does not have a background in science. As a result, he is more focused on the business side of the company and today he is trying to find applications for DeepMind's technology both inside and outside of Google while also ensuring that the company's work in AI remains safe and ethical.   Suleyman grew up in North London and developed a passion for philosophy Suleyman grew up just off Caledonian Road in North London where he lived with his parents and his two younger brothers. His father was a Syrian-born taxi driver and his mother was an English nurse in the NHS. Suleyman went to Thornhill Primary School (a state school in Islington) followed by the free, but selective, Queen Elizabeth boys school in Barnet. Suleyman read widely as a child, according to a Wired feature on DeepMind from June 2015, developing an early love for philosophy. He also had a passion for business and entrepreneurship from an early age and he wasn't afraid to try to hustle his f[...]



The founder of a satellite imagery startup aiming to raise £20 million this year tells us how he is changing the commodity industry [Silicon Alley Insider]

2018-01-20T00:22:00-08:00

The founder of satellite imagery startup Bird.i spoke to Business Insider about scaling up the company and plans for the future.  Corentin Guillo spoke about how satellite imagery analysis can be used to change the way commodity traders work and reduce risks and speculation. The company hopes to raise up to £20 million this year in a third funding round. LONDON — In only eighteen months a small group of data scientists in Glasgow have helped change the way commodity traders worldwide make decisions.  Scotland-based Bird.i is a satellite imagery startup whose analysis has propelled founder Corentin Guillo into boardrooms with major financial firms and changed the way and speed at which commodity traders work. "We give people access to new types of information and insight they've never been exposed to before," Guillo told Business Insider. A single image is "almost a postcard," but the potential information that can be drawn from analysing a series images over time is enormous. Although the idea dates back to 2009, the business started in earnest in May 2016, when Guillo raised £500,000 and put together a team of six. A second £2 million founding round came shortly afterwards, in June 2017, and the team grew to 12 — 10 of whom are data scientists with machine learning backgrounds. Guillo is now looking to scale up the business and grow a commercial sales team, and hopes to raise between £10-20 million in a third funding round this year. How it works Bird.i analyses satellite imagery to provide insights for professionals in the financial services and construction sectors, as well as for curious individuals who want more regularly updated images of the world than Google Maps can provide. While a single high quality image of the world taken from space can be compelling, the information that can be drawn out of a series is much more detailed. Bird.i analyses images across a range of commodities, including oil and agriculture, to allow traders to "limit the speculation and make decisions based on fact," says Guillo. If an oil pipeline bursts, for example, Bird.i's analysts can predict the scale of damage and loss using daily or near-daily images, information which can be handed to traders in real time. Images of oil refineries are also detailed enough to allow Bird.i to predict how full individual oil tanks are using the shadows cast by tanks' floating roofs: More shadow suggests the roof and oil stores are low. Factors such as the time the photos were taken, the position of the sun, and the satellite's position are also considered. These images can be taken in tandem with those of shipping ports, where the number and frequency of boats loading and unloading oil are recorded. Aggregating all this information allows Bird.i to provide traders with estimates of a country's oil production, storage and exports. For companies signed up to this service, the data they receive is automatically updated every time a new image is analysed by Bird.i's team. Another popular commodity to track is grain production. Bird.i collects images from grain storage units along the Mississippi river in the US, which are detailed enough to show how many barges at each loading site are collecting and moving grain towards the coast. This means Bird.i can "predict the volume of grain that will be exported from the US," says Guillo, as well as which companies are moving the most. 'We take all the risk' Although Bird.i has three main competitors in the space, Guillo says his business model is different and more affordable: Bird.i uses a revenue share model, whereby satellite operators allow the startup to access their images for free (a single image can cost thousands of pounds), and take a revenue cut every time one of their images is used. "We take all the risk by creating a new market," says Guillo. "If we fail, it's not their money [that is lost], but if we succeed they share o[...]



THE INSURTECH REPORT: How financial technology firms are helping — and disrupting — the nearly $5 trillion insurance industry [Silicon Alley Insider]

2018-01-19T22:02:00-08:00

The global insurance industry is worth nearly $5 trillion, and insurance companies are at risk of losing a share of this valuable market to new entrants. That's because these legacy players have been even slower to modernize than their counterparts in other financial services industries.  This has created an opportunity for a group of firms known as insurtechs. These startups are leveraging new technology and a better understanding of consumer expectations to increase efficiencies in the insurance industry. Some are helping incumbents deliver better end products, while others are directly competing with legacy players. In a new report from BI Intelligence, we look at the drivers behind the increasing number of insurtech companies, how they are helping or disrupting legacy players in the insurance industry, and where legacy players are innovating off their own backs.  Here are some of the key takeaways: The opportunity is currently biggest in the US and Europe. That's because these regions have large, very mature insurance industries.  Insurtechs' products and services mostly target retail customers. This includes small businesses and consumers.  Most insurtechs are acting as enablers. This means that they offer products and services that help insurers and reinsurers improve their processes and better serve customers.  Of the main players in the insurance industry, brokers are most at risk of disruption. This is because insurtechs can easily replicate their services and are solving historical industry problems faster than legacy players.  Legacy players are also innovating. In particular, insurers and reinsurers are investing in insurtechs and fintechs working with relevant technologies. At the same time, they are improving their own direct-to-consumer digital interfaces, increasing their disruptive threat to brokers.   In full, the report: Explains the structure and current state of the insurance market. Highlights areas where insurtechs can help legacy players modernize. Describes where insurtechs are competing with incumbents and how their models compare. Provides case studies of insurtechs. Outlines the legacy response.  And much more.  Interested in getting the full report? Here are two ways to access it: Subscribe to an All-Access pass to BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report and over 100 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you'll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally. >> Learn More Now Purchase & download the full report from our research store. >> Purchase & Download Now Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: The CEO of $445 billion fund giant Principal Global Investors says everyone has the economy all wrong [...]



THE CHATBOT MONETIZATION REPORT: Sizing the market, key strategies, and how to navigate the chatbot opportunity (FB, AAPL, GOOG) [Silicon Alley Insider]

2018-01-19T20:01:00-08:00

This is a preview of a research report from BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about BI Intelligence, click here. Improving artificial intelligence (AI) technology and the proliferation of messaging apps — which enable users and businesses to interact through a variety of mediums, including text, voice, image, video, and file sharing — are fueling the popularity of chatbots. These software programs use messaging as an interface through which to carry out various tasks, like checking the weather or scheduling a meeting. Bots are still nascent and monetization models have yet to be established for the tech, but there are a number of existing strategies — like "as-a-service" or affiliate marketing — that will likely prove successful for bots used as a tool within messaging apps. Chatbots can also provide brands with value adds — services that don't directly generate revenue, but help increase the ability of brands and businesses to better target and serve customers, and increase productivity. These include bots used for research, lead generation, and customer service. A new report from BI Intelligence investigates how brands can monetize their chatbots by tailoring existing models. It also explores various ways chatbots can be used to cut businesses' operational costs. And finally, it highlights the slew of barriers that brands need to overcome in order to tap into the potentially lucrative market.  Here are some of the key takeaways:  Chatbot adoption has already taken off in the US with more than half of US users between the ages of 18 and 55 having used them, according to exclusive BI Intelligence survey data. Chatbots boast a number of distinct features that make them a perfect vehicle for brands to reach consumers. These include a global presence, high retention rates, and an ability to appeal to a younger demographic. Businesses and brands are looking to capitalize on the potential to monetize the software. BI Intelligence identifies four existing models that can be successfully tailored for chatbots. These models include Bots-as-a-Service, native content, affiliate marketing, and retail sales. Chatbots can also provide brands with value adds, or services that don't directly generate revenue. Bots used for research, lead generation, and customer service can cut down on companies' operational costs. There are several benchmarks chatbots must reach, and barriers they must overcome, before becoming successful revenue generators.  In full, the report: Explains the different ways businesses can access, utilize, and distribute content via chatbots. Breaks down the pros and cons of each chatbot monetization model. Identifies the additional value chatbots can provide businesses outside of direct monetization. Looks at the potential barriers that could limit the growth, adoption, and use of chatbots and therefore their earning potential. Interested in getting the full report? Here are several ways to access it: Subscribe to an All-Access pass to BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report and over 100 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you'll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally. >> Learn More Now Purchase & download the full report from our research store. >> Purchase & Download Now Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: These monster machines are changing the world of construction [...]



THE INSURANCE AND THE IoT REPORT: How insurers are using connected devices to cut costs and more accurately price policies [Silicon Alley Insider]

2018-01-19T19:07:00-08:00

This is a preview of a research report from BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about BI Intelligence, click here. Insurance companies have long based their pricing models and strategies on assumptions about the demographics of their customers. Auto insurers, for example, have traditionally charged higher premiums for parents of teenage drivers based on the assumption that members of this demographic are more likely to get into an accident. But those assumptions are inherently flawed, since they often aren't based on the actual behaviors and characteristics of individual customers. As new IoT technologies increasingly move into the mainstream, insurers are able to collect and analyze data to more accurately price premiums, helping them to protect the assets they insure and enabling more efficient assessment of damages to conserve resources. A new report from BI Intelligence explains how companies in the auto, health, and home insurance markets are using the data produced by IoT solutions to augment their existing policy pricing models and grow their customer bases. In addition, it examines areas where IoT devices have the potential to open up new insurance segments.  Here are some of the key takeaways: The world's largest auto insurers now offer usage-based policies, which price premiums based on vehicle usage data collected directly from the car. Large home and commercial property insurers are using drones to inspect damaged properties, which can improve workflow efficiency and reduce their reliance on human labor. Health and life insurance firms are offering customers fitness trackers to encourage healthy behavior, and discounts for meeting certain goals. Home insurers are offering discounts on smart home devices to current customers, and in some cases, free devices to entice new customers. In full, the report: Forecasts the number of Americans who will have tried usage-based auto insurance by 2021. Explains why narrowly tailored wearables could be what's next for the health insurance industry. Analyzes the market for potential future insurance products on IoT devices. Discusses and analyzes the barriers to consumers opting in to policies that collect their data. To get your copy of this invaluable guide to the IoT, choose one of these options: Subscribe to an ALL-ACCESS Membership with BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report AND over 100 other expertly researched deep-dive reports, subscriptions to all of our daily newsletters, and much more. >> START A MEMBERSHIP Purchase the report and download it immediately from our research store. >> BUY THE REPORT The choice is yours. But however you decide to acquire this report, you’ve given yourself a powerful advantage in your understanding of insurance and the IoT. Join the conversation about this story » [...]



'We're not going to follow the hype': Biotech VCs are concerned by the staggering size of early-stage startup funding [Silicon Alley Insider]

2018-01-19T18:38:00-08:00

Money is flowing into biotech startups, with companies more and more frequently raising more than $100 million in early-stage funding rounds. We asked venture capitalists what all this capital meant for the private biotech industry. Some were excited for the science while concerned about the expectations that come along with this greater funding, but others are finding ways to look past the hype. Over the past few years, biotech startups have been successful at raising large amounts of capital just as they're starting out. It has led to a lot of unicorns, with multibillion-dollar-valued companies having raised hundreds of millions in their series A or B rounds. But it prompts the question: Is all this money flowing into biotech at such early stages a good thing? On a recent trip to San Francisco, Business Insider posed this question to venture capitalists. For the most part, there was a sense of excitement about the money itself mixed with concern that expectations may be set too high. "I think we are in a situation, which for companies is seemingly positive, where we have a lot of capital being put to work and a lot of capital sources coming into the U," Carol Gallagher, a partner at New Enterprise Associates, told Business Insider. "I think history would tell us that at some point there can be too much capital and it's not really discerning, and so then what happens is companies get funded and maybe take longer, or don't actually have the right team or right science and get funded anyway, and there's a disappointment." A new inflection point One reason startups could be raising more money earlier in their existence, according to Gallagher, could be that it's taking longer to get to the point where investors are willing to provide companies with additional funding. Instead of getting funding after, say, bringing a drug into animal trials, companies now need to get to the point where the treatment is tested in humans. "The larger size of the series A is coming more from this realization that there just really isn't a value inflection that's very significant ahead of the actual clinical proof of concept," Gallagher said. That's because at an earlier stage where the treatment is being tested in animals, there's still a good chance that the treatment may not work in humans. "I think that one of the biggest challenges for our industry will be that we just aren't that good at being predictive," she said. Jon Norris, the managing director for Silicon Valley Bank's healthcare practice, told Business Insider that while the round number may often look quite large, the deals are tranched, meaning the round may be for $75 million, but initially the company may get a fraction of that. As the company progresses through development, it may start to get more. Betting on more multibillion-dollar biotechs Alexis Borisy, a partner at Third Rock Ventures, said the reason some companies were raising larger funding rounds early on may have more to do with those companies' goals. "I think the question is more, 'What is the company trying to build? What is the fundamental innovation?' and 'What's the right amount of capital to assemble the right team, build the right culture, go deploy what you're doing in that field of science and medicine to the point where you are really going to be doing something?'" Borisy said. The number of biotech startups he sees launch in any given year hasn't grown, he said. But the same is true for the number of billion-dollar exits he's seen. That suggests the increase in early-stage funding isn't leading to more lucrative results for investors. "There's a lot of capital in this space, which is great I think for patients," Borisy said. "I think it's great returns for society. As far as, will all that money have great financial returns, the general math would suggest that it's probably not going [...]



CHATBOTS EXPLAINED: Why businesses should be paying attention to the chatbot revolution (FB, AAPL, GOOG) [Silicon Alley Insider]

2018-01-19T18:06:00-08:00

This is a preview of a research report from BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about BI Intelligence, click here. Advancements in artificial intelligence, coupled with the proliferation of messaging apps, are fueling the development of chatbots — software programs that use messaging as the interface through which to carry out any number of tasks, from scheduling a meeting, to reporting weather, to helping users buy a pair of shoes.  Foreseeing immense potential, businesses are starting to invest heavily in the burgeoning bot economy. A number of brands and publishers have already deployed bots on messaging and collaboration channels, including HP, 1-800-Flowers, and CNN. While the bot revolution is still in the early phase, many believe 2016 will be the year these conversational interactions take off. In a new report from BI Intelligence, we explore the growing and disruptive bot landscape by investigating what bots are, how businesses are leveraging them, and where they will have the biggest impact. We outline the burgeoning bot ecosystem by segment, look at companies that offer bot-enabling technology, distribution channels, and some of the key third-party bots already on offer.  The report also forecasts the potential annual savings that businesses could realize if chatbots replace some of their customer service and sales reps. Finally, we compare the potential of chatbot monetization on a platform like Facebook Messenger against the iOS App Store and Google Play store. Here are some of the key takeaways: AI has reached a stage in which chatbots can have increasingly engaging and human conversations, allowing businesses to leverage the inexpensive and wide-reaching technology to engage with more consumers. Chatbots are particularly well suited for mobile — perhaps more so than apps. Messaging is at the heart of the mobile experience, as the rapid adoption of chat apps demonstrates. The chatbot ecosystem is already robust, encompassing many different third-party chat bots, native bots, distribution channels, and enabling technology companies.  Chatbots could be lucrative for messaging apps and the developers who build bots for these platforms, similar to how app stores have developed into moneymaking ecosystems.   In full, the report: Breaks down the pros and cons of chatbots. Explains the different ways businesses can access, utilize, and distribute content via chatbots. Forecasts the potential impact chatbots could have for businesses. Looks at the potential barriers that could limit the growth, adoption, and use of chatbots. And much more. Interested in getting the full report? Here are several ways to access it: Subscribe to an All-Access pass to BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report and over 100 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you'll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally. >> Learn More Now Purchase & download the full report from our research store. >> Purchase & Download Now Learn more: Messaging Apps for Publishers:  Why chat apps are crucial for publishers Messaging App Research: How instant messaging can be monetized Join the conversation about this story » [...]



THE CONVERSATIONAL COMMERCE REPORT: Chatbots' impact on the payments ecosystem and how merchants can capitalize on them [Silicon Alley Insider]

2018-01-19T17:04:00-08:00

This is a preview of a research report from BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about BI Intelligence, click here. To keep pace with the ongoing shift toward e- and m-commerce, retailers are turning to chat apps, where smartphone users spend considerable time each day. One way they’ve been accessing consumers on these platforms is through chatbots, or software programs that use business-to-consumer (B2C) text-based messaging as an interface through which customers can communicate with merchants in a question-and-answer format.  For merchants, these offerings are valuable because sales increase as customers communicate with and shop from their brand on more channels. But there’s considerable friction — in chat apps, payments offerings are limited, which means users who might be browsing in a messaging app will still be redirected to another app or the mobile web to complete a purchase.  This is creating an opportunity for payments processors and card networks, which are beginning to partner with merchants to capture potential volume from chat apps. And as the hype increases, other payments firms, like remittance providers and banks are also entering the game, in the hopes of increasing user engagement or attracting new types of clients. There’s a long road ahead: We’re just at the beginning of what’s likely to be a long adoption cycle, with payments firms only starting to dip their toes into the space. But improvements in the ecosystem, combined with rising consumer appetite for these services and increasing trust, will eventually lead to moderate gains in usage that open up a massive volume opportunity for Western firms. BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has put together a detailed report on chatbots' role in the payments ecosystem. Here are some key takeaways from the report: Chat apps are the next frontier for digital commerce, but without payments functionality, the opportunity is extremely limited. Customers can — and do — ask for support, take advantage of deals, and browse many stores within chat apps. But when it comes time to pay, users have to switch to another app or the mobile web — a turnoff that could hinder adoption and lower conversion rates. Most payments firms are teaming up with retailers, often those they already count as clients, to enable customers to make payments using their mobile wallets or processing features within chat apps. That’s allowing retailers to get to the space faster while opening a revenue opportunity for payments players. Others are taking less direct approaches, working to increase consumer engagement in a way that promotes more spending offline. We’re at the beginning of an adoption curve, so digital payments providers shouldn’t expect massive success quickly, but in the long run, it’s likely to be a large market. As firms work to grow consumer awareness and improve the experience, the technology will eventually become mainstream, which makes getting in early and becoming established worthwhile.  In full, the report: Explains why the chat app is the next frontier for commerce, and why payments functionality is a linchpin of that success. Details different types of chat app payments and their potential use cases. Evaluates the hurdles that could prevent consumers from using chatbot payments. Suggests ways firms can overcome these hurdles and begin seeing adoption. Sizes the potential long-run market for chatbot payments in the West. Interested in getting the full report? Here are two ways to access it: Subscribe to an ALL-ACCESS Membership with BI Intelligence and gain immediate access t[...]



Exact, Spectrum, PerBlue, & More: This Week’s Wisconsin Watchlist [Xconomy VC/Deals]

2018-01-19T16:27:08-08:00

It was a newsy week for Wisconsin’s innovation community. Catch up on some of the major happenings with these recent headlines: —Exact Sciences’ (NASDAQ: EXAS) stock price finished the trading day on Wednesday down nearly 10 percent after the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) announced the results of a new study evaluating a liquid […] It was a newsy week for Wisconsin’s innovation community. Catch up on some of the major happenings with these recent headlines: —Exact Sciences’ (NASDAQ: EXAS) stock price finished the trading day on Wednesday down nearly 10 percent after the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) announced the results of a new study evaluating a liquid biopsy test for colorectal cancer. The study showed the test was up to 88 percent accurate, ABSCO said. Madison-based Exact’s flagship product is Cologuard, a stool-based DNA test for colorectal cancer. According to ASCO, the study took place in Taiwan and involved 620 adult... Read more » Reprints | Share:           UNDERWRITERS AND PARTNERS                                  [...]



Here are some of the questionable tweets that Twitter says were linked to the Russian government during the 2016 US election [Silicon Alley Insider]

2018-01-19T16:23:19-08:00

Twitter's internal review of the activity on its platform during the 2016 US presidential election led to the identification and suspension of accounts that were "potentially connected to a propaganda effort by a Russian government-linked organization," according to a blog post from the company. Twitter identified an organization it said took park in propaganda efforts; the Internet Research Agency (IRA) — also referred to as Russia's "troll army." Twitter said it emailed notifications to 677,775 users who interacted with tweets originating from IRA during the election period. The social-media platform also said that it identified automated Russia-based accounts during the course of its investigation. Although Twitter alleges that the number of Russian-linked accounts that tweeted election-related content during the election represented a small fraction of the total accounts on Twitter, it acknowledged that "any such activity represents a challenge to democratic societies everywhere." "Twitter is committed to providing a platform that fosters healthy civic discourse and democratic debate," the company's blog post said. Though the questionable accounts were suspended and the published content was no longer available, the company provided some examples of the content that "received significant engagement." Here are some examples of the Russian government-linked tweets that Twitter users shared during the election:The following tweet, made two days before the 2016 US presidential election, appears to impersonate the Tennessee Republican Party's official Twitter account: @TNGOP. Former FBI director James Comey was a hot-button topic amongst Democrats and Republicans alike, after he dropped a bombshell recommendation that then-candidate Hillary Clinton should not face criminal charges related to her use of a private email server when she was secretary of state. Another tweet from the IRA appeared to comment on the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. The image of former President Bill Clinton and his daughter Chelsea Clinton shown here is from the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University on September 26, 2016. This account, whose tweets could still be found in online archives, references the conservative rallying cry that followed comments Hillary Clinton made about some of Donald Trump's supporters. Clinton famously riled up Republicans when she characterized half of Trump's supporters as "a basket of deplorables." According to Clinton, who made that remark at a campaign event in September 2016, those "deplorables" consisted of people who she called "racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, and Islamophobic." See the rest of the story at Business Insider [...]



Twitter found more than 50,000 Russia-linked accounts that actively shared election-related material — and Trump interacted with them hundreds of times [Silicon Alley Insider]

2018-01-19T15:51:52-08:00

Twitter says it found more Russia-linked accounts that shared US election-related material during the 2016 race for the White House. The social-media platform published the analysis on its blog Friday. In addition to other findings, Twitter said it discovered 13,512 accounts engaged in what it believed to be "automated, election-related activity originating out of Russia," bringing the total number of such accounts to 50,258. These accounts, sometimes referred to as "bots," played a significant role in the spread of misinformation and propaganda-style messages favoring Donald Trump and criticizing his 2016 Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. Twitter posted new information Friday that sheds light on US-election interference activity linked to Russia that was carried out on its platform. The company said that it found another 13,512 accounts that engaged in what it believed to be "automated, election-related activity originating out of Russia." That brings the total number of such accounts to 50,258, according to Twitter. In a blog post published Friday, Twitter said those accounts represented about 0.016% of the total subscribers on the platform at the time, but it emphasized the seriousness of the findings. "Any such activity represents a challenge to democratic societies everywhere," Twitter said. "We're committing to continuing to work on this important issue." The potential Russia-linked activity on Twitter is just one wrinkle in the comprehensive and wide-ranging influence campaign that boosted Donald Trump during the 2016 election. Accounts and bots on Twitter and Facebook engaged in a systematic routine of promoting misinformation and propaganda-style messages — ostensibly to praise Trump and denigrate is then-opponent, Hillary Clinton. When he was a candidate, Trump's Twitter account engaged with bots hundreds of times. His massive following on the platform meant that any questionable content his account retweeted or quote-tweeted further amplified the material. Some of the bot accounts were quickly suspended. Tech companies received strong criticism for, among other things, the lack of oversight that allowed misinformation to flourish on their social-media platforms. The most notable among those companies is Facebook, which announced last week that it would tweak its algorithm to promote less content from news organizations and brands, and rank news items based in part on what users deem to be "trustworthy."SEE ALSO: Facebook is asking users to pick which news outlets are 'trustworthy' — and will demote the losers in your feed DON'T MISS: Twitter's Russia investigation should look at Trump's historic interactions with bots Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: The best phones of 2017 that you can buy right now [...]



Nintendo's Switch boosted not only the company, but the entire video game industry [Silicon Alley Insider]

2018-01-19T15:50:22-08:00

The Nintendo Switch had a great run in 2017. The Japanese video game giant sold nearly 3 million Switches the month it launched, wiping out all of the company's stock. Nintendo has been doubling down on manufacturing ever since but is still struggling to keep up with demand. To date, the Switch is the fastest selling console ever in the US.  Not only has the Switch's popularity boosted Nintendo's sales, it's had a marked effect on the entire US video game business. As indicated by this chart from Statista, which is based on data from market research firm NPD Group, the Switch played a big role in boosting total US game console sales last year and helping push overall industry sales to a record high. SEE ALSO: Forget factories, most companies plan to use their overseas cash to pay down debts Forget factories, most companies plan to use their overseas cash to pay down debts Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Here are the best iPhone apps of 2017 [...]



Twitter is emailing 677,775 people in the US who interacted with Russian propaganda in the 2016 election (TWTR) [Silicon Alley Insider]

2018-01-19T15:14:35-08:00

Twitter will email 677,775 users in the US to let them know that they interacted with Russian propaganda during the 2016 US presidential election. All of those users either followed an account, liked or retweeted content associated with the Internet Research Agency (IRA) — an organization associated with Russian propaganda efforts. In total, Twitter believes there were 3,814 unique accounts run by the IRA.  Twitter will email 677,775 people in the United States to let them know that they interacted with Russian propaganda during the 2016 presidential election, the company said in a blog post Friday. Emails will go out to anyone who followed an account, retweeted, or liked a Tweet put out by the Internet Research Agency (IRA), an organization believed to be connected to Russian government propaganda efforts. Twitter's role in Russian election propaganda has been well known since fall, when the company testified in front of the US Senate, alongside Google and Facebook. But the company released fresh numbers on Friday as part of its commitment to update congressional committees and the public on findings from its on-going investigation into how the platform was used to influence to election.  Twitter did not describe what its forthcoming emails to the roughly 688,000 users would say. But the company showed a couple of examples of tweets promoted by the Russia-linked IRA: Twitter now believes that there were a total of 3,814 accounts associated with the IRA, which posted a total of 175,993 tweets. Only 8.4% of those tweets were election related, according to the company.  All of those accounts were eventually suspended for violating Twitter's terms of service, the company said.  If you or someone you know has been contacted by Twitter about Russian propaganda, please email Becky Peterson at bpeterson@businessinsider.com. SEE ALSO: One sentence from the Senate's social media hearing should petrify Google, Facebook and Twitter Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Check out these unique bikes if you're looking for an upgrade [...]



THE SELF-INSTALLED SMART HOME REPORT: Why current smart home device owners are appealing to tech companies [Silicon Alley Insider]

2018-01-19T15:04:00-08:00

This is a preview of a research report from BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about BI Intelligence, click here. Not that long ago, many home-appliance and consumer-electronics makers were gearing up for what they thought would soon be a rapidly growing market for smart home devices. The instant popularity of the Nest thermostat, introduced in 2011, seemed to confirm their hopes. But those expectations were dashed in the coming years as the market for connected home devices later stagnated.  Even with these challenges, many of the biggest consumer technology companies are now moving into the smart home market. For example, Apple, which recently released its self-installed smart home ecosystem, called the Apple Home, traditionally doesn't move into a market until it's very mature and only when it can release a perfected product. Further, Google this fall launched the Google Home and its companion ecosystem, hoping to jump into the voice-activated smart home speaker market, which Amazon currently dominates with its Echo product line.  In a new report, BI Intelligence examines the demographics of the average smart home device owner and discuss why current smart home device owners are appealing to tech companies. The report also examines the plans of various tech giants in the smart home market and discuss their monetization strategies, and makes suggestions for how these companies can position themselves to make their products and devices more appealing to the mass market. Here are some key takeaways from the report: Tech companies primarily enter the market to enhance a core revenue stream or service, while device makers desire to collect data to improve their products and prevent costly recalls. We forecast there will be $4.8 trillion in aggregate IoT investment between 2016 and 2021. These companies are also seeking to create an early-mover advantage for themselves, where they gain an advantage by this head start on adoption. Major barriers to mass market adoption that still must overcome include technological fragmentation and persistently high device prices. In full, the report: Details the market strategy of prominent tech companies and device makers, and analyzes why which ones are best poised to succeed once adoption ticks up. Offers insight into current ownership through an exclusive survey from BI Intelligence and analyzes what demographics will drive adoption moving forward. Explains in detail which companies are poised to succeed in the market in the coming years as adoption increases and mass market consumers begin to purchase smart home devices. To get your copy of this invaluable guide to the IoT, choose one of these options: Subscribe to an ALL-ACCESS Membership with BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report AND over 100 other expertly researched deep-dive reports, subscriptions to all of our daily newsletters, and much more. >> START A MEMBERSHIP Purchase the report and download it immediately from our research store. >> BUY THE REPORT The choice is yours. But however you decide to acquire this report, you’ve given yourself a powerful advantage in your understanding of smart homes. Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: You've never seen a bridge like this before [...]



Google CEO: We didn't fire the diversity memo writer for political reasons [Silicon Alley Insider]

2018-01-19T14:45:32-08:00

Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the company did not fire James Damore, the author of the controversial memo on diversity, for political reasons. Damore sued Google for discrimination last week. The lawsuit claims Google discriminates against white, male, conservative employees. Google CEO Sundar Pichai said Friday that the company didn't fire engineer James Damore for political reasons. "I regret that people misunderstand that we may have made this [decision] for a political position one way or another," Pichai said in an interview with Recode's Kara Swisher and MSNBC's Ari Melber for a special that will air on MSNBC later this month. Damore wrote the infamous Google memo on diversity where he implied that women did not have the genetic predisposition for engineering jobs. He was fired after the memo leaked and went viral and has since claimed his termination was because he was a conservative in a company that adheres to liberal values. Following Damore's firing last August, Pichai said in a memo to employees that Damore was fired because his memo violated Google's code of conduct. Damore sued Google last week, saying the company discriminates against white, male, conservative employees. The Q&A with Pichai and YouTube CEO Susan Wojciki is set to air on MSNBC on Friday January 26, in a program called "Revolution: Google and YouTube Changing the World."SEE ALSO: James Damore sues Google for discrimination Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: The coolest gadgets we saw at CES 2018 [...]



THE MOBILE PAYMENTS REPORT: Key strategies that wallet providers can implement to break from disappointing growth [Silicon Alley Insider]

2018-01-19T14:02:00-08:00

This is a preview of a research report from BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about BI Intelligence, click here. In the US, the in-store mobile wallet space is becoming increasingly crowded. Most customers have an option provided by their smartphone vendor, like Apple, Android, or Samsung Pay. But those are often supplemented by a myriad of options from other players, ranging from tech firms like PayPal, to banks and card issuers, to major retailers and restaurants. With that proliferation of options, one would expect to see a surge in adoption. But that’s not the case — though BI Intelligence projects that US in-store mobile payments volume will quintuple in the next five years, usage is consistently lagging below expectations, with estimates for 2019 falling far below what we expected just two years ago.  As such, despite promising factors driving gains, including the normalization of NFC technology and improved incentive programs to encourage adoption and engagement, it’s important for wallet providers and groups trying to break into the space to address the problems still holding mobile wallets back. These issues include customer satisfaction with current payment methods, limited repeat purchasing, and consumer confusion stemming from fragmentation. But several wallets, like Apple Pay, Starbucks’ app, and Samsung Pay, are outperforming their peers, and by delving into why, firms can begin to develop best practices and see better results. A new report from BI Intelligence addresses how in-store mobile payments volume will grow through 2021, why that’s below past expectations, and what successful cases can teach other players in the space. It also issues actionable recommendations that various providers can take to improve their performance and better compete. Here are some of the key takeaways: US in-store mobile payments will advance steadily at a 40% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to hit $128 billion in 2021. That’s suppressed by major headwinds, though — this is the second year running that BI Intelligence has halved its projected growth rate. To power ahead, US wallets should look at pockets of success. Banks, merchants, and tech providers could each benefit from implementing strategies that have worked for early leaders, including eliminating fragmentation, improving the purchase journey, and building repeat purchasing. Building multiple layers of value is key to getting ahead. Adding value to the user experience and making wallets as simple and frictionless as possible are critical to encouraging adoption and keeping consumers engaged.  In full, the report: Sizes the US in-store mobile payments market and examines growth drivers. Analyzes headwinds that have suppressed adoption. Identifies three strategic changes providers can make to improve their results. Evaluates pockets of success in the market. Provides actionable insights that providers can implement to improve results. Interested in getting the full report? Here are two ways to access it: Subscribe to an ALL-ACCESS Membership with BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report AND more than 250 other expertly researched deep-dive reports, subscriptions to all of our daily newsletters, and much more. >> Learn More Now Purchase and download the report from our research store. >> Purchase & Download Now Join the conversation about this story » [...]



After Whirlwind 2017, May Mobility Plans to Expand Driverless Fleet [Xconomy VC/Deals]

2018-01-19T13:49:28-08:00

May Mobility, the autonomous vehicle startup based in Ann Arbor, MI, had an action-packed 2017. The company launched in January, completed a stint in the Y Combinator accelerator over the summer, put driverless shuttles on downtown Detroit streets through a small pilot program in October, and raised more than $11 million over the course of […] May Mobility, the autonomous vehicle startup based in Ann Arbor, MI, had an action-packed 2017. The company launched in January, completed a stint in the Y Combinator accelerator over the summer, put driverless shuttles on downtown Detroit streets through a small pilot program in October, and raised more than $11 million over the course of the year from investors. If all goes according to plan in 2018, May hopes to be one of the first mobility companies in the world to replace an existing transportation service with its autonomous vehicles. Although the terms of the deal are still being finalized, May... Read more » Reprints | Share:           [...]



One of the best nature documentaries of all time returns this weekend [Silicon Alley Insider]

2018-01-19T13:48:00-08:00

"Blue Planet II" premieres in the US on Saturday, January 20 at 9 pm ET. For the series, producers spent more than 6,000 hours underwater over four years, visiting 39 countries on 125 expeditions. The footage they captured is breathtaking, heartbreaking, and stunning. Earth's oceans make life possible. They're the reason that when the planet is viewed from space, we call it a "blue dot." "Blue Planet II," a BBC Natural History Unit production that premieres in the US on Saturday, offers the most breathtaking look at the oceans yet. The producers take viewers to the surprisingly full-of-life waters 3,280 feet deep in the Antarctic. The cameras show an octopus battling a shark in a struggle to stay alive. There's a journey to try and finally discover where whale sharks give birth, and a look at how orcas use their powerful tails to kill herring with shockwaves. At one point, the show's production team even filmed life in the deepest parts of the ocean, seven miles down, where scientists didn't know anything could live. Creatures there are under pressure equivalent to 50 jumbo jets stacked on top of each other. There are at least 12 scientific papers being published based on what the teams observed. "As filmmakers, it has been unbelievably exciting to make these films in collaboration and true unity with the scientists who can unlock the secrets to this magical world," Orla Doherty, the producer of the new series' second and seventh episodes, told Business Insider. "I feel like we've pushed the boundary of what we know about the ocean just that little bit more."  Our blue planet The original "Blue Planet" series came out in 2001, and was one of the first nature documentaries narrated by David Attenborough that captivated the world with the mystery and beauty of Earth's seas. It was followed by other stunning series like "Planet Earth" and "Life," which each showed how remarkable our planet is from other new perspectives. In "Blue Planet II," the producers take viewers further and deeper underwater to show how alien and otherworldly the ocean can be and remind humans of how connected we are to the sea. "This place isn’t just beautiful, it isn’t just full of extraordinary animals doing really really incredible things," Doherty said. "Once you then stop and think, actually it’s a healthy, thriving, vibrant ocean that’s full of life and full of all the ecosystems doing their function, performing the services they do, that is what makes it okay for us to be living on this planet."  True natural history As huge and full of life as the ocean is, people have the ability to impact it. The many ways in which human activity is causing widespread harm to the ocean and the creatures in it are shown to heartbreaking effect in several episodes. "We didn’t go out there as an environmental series at all but we went out there to film natural history and the natural history is that [the oceans are] changing," Doherty. "I went out to film deep sea corals, ancient animals that have been growing in the darkness of the deep, and what I found was a rubble field because a trawler had been through and had razed the corals to the ground. We came across these scenes over and over again, so it just became our obligation to include some of them because to show our audience an ocean and not show some of the ways we are changing it would have just been so untrue." As hard to watch as some of those scenes are, they're powerful. The show airs simultaneously on January 20 at 9 pm ET/8 pm Central on BBC[...]



Some drivers may be forced to pay up to $25.34 to drive in NYC's busiest areas starting in 2020 [Silicon Alley Insider]

2018-01-19T13:39:46-08:00

A panel created by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed charging a fee to drivers who enter Manhattan's busiest areas on work days. Those with cars would pay $11.52, while those with trucks would pay $25.34. The money raised from the fee would be used for projects to upgrade NYC's aging and increasingly unreliable transit system. Traveling around New York City can be a nightmare. The roads are congested, sidewalks are dirty, and the subway system is unreliable.  A new proposal offered by a panel created by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo hopes to address two of those problems by introducing a fee for drivers who enter Manhattan's busiest areas on work days. Under the proposal, cars that drive through Manhattan's central business district (which runs from the southern tip of the island to 60th Street) on work days between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. would pay a fee of $11.52, while trucks would pay $25.34. Taxis and ride-sharing services would pay between $2 and $5 per ride. Cars would be tracked electronically. There would be some exceptions, as drivers using the East River bridges would not have to pay the fee, and those who used the Holland or Lincoln Tunnels wouldn't have to pay an additional fee on top of their tolls. According to the proposal, the fee would raise $810 million in revenue before including contributions from taxis and ride-sharing vehicles, reduce traffic by 13%, and increase vehicle speeds by 9%. The proposal notes that the fee wouldn't be introduced until hundreds of millions of dollars were spent to improve the city's buses and subways, which would become more crowded as a result of commuters who wanted to avoid the driving fee. The money raised from the fee would be used for further maintenance and improvements. The city's subway system has become increasingly unreliable due to decades of mismanagement. A New York Times investigation released in November 2017 revealed how funding for maintenance had been cut and diverted to other uses, like a state-run ski resort that was struggling to attract guests. The report indicated that decreased maintenance, combined with aging subway cars, tracks, and signaling systems, resulted in just 65% of trains reaching their destination within five minutes of their scheduled time on weekdays, which was the lowest rate of any major metropolitan rapid transit system. If enacted, the proposal could become the subject of controversy, since a subsequent New York Times report detailed how transportation construction projects in New York City were far more expensive than in comparable cities due to a negotiation process that allowed labor unions and contractors to charge excessive fees and overstaff projects. Some may argue that the city's Metropolitan Transit Authority should reign in spending before asking residents for more money.SEE ALSO: New York City's subway is falling apart — here's how it compares to other cities around the world Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: This car can transform and drive over other cars in traffic [...]



Q&A: Dell Med’s DeSalvo Talks Social Health Startups, Data Ownership [Xconomy VC/Deals]

2018-01-19T10:06:33-08:00

Karen DeSalvo has experience working in the public sector, but she’s hardly what you’d call a government bureaucrat. DeSalvo, who is trained as a physician, served as the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology from 2014 to 2016 under President Barack Obama. During some of the time she headed the ONC, as the office is […] Karen DeSalvo has experience working in the public sector, but she’s hardly what you’d call a government bureaucrat. DeSalvo, who is trained as a physician, served as the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology from 2014 to 2016 under President Barack Obama. During some of the time she headed the ONC, as the office is known, DeSalvo was also Assistant U.S. Secretary for Health, a position within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Before that, she was vice dean for community affairs and health policy at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans Earlier this month, DeSalvo... Read more » Reprints | Share:           [...]



Boston Tech Watch: ICO Crackdown, “Shark Tank” Startups & More [Xconomy VC/Deals]

2018-01-19T10:01:20-08:00

[Updated 1/19/18, 2:47 pm. See below.] This week in Boston tech, we’re tracking legal action against a so-called “initial coin offering,” hiring sprees, a pair of acquisitions, several venture funding rounds, and more. Read on for details. —Massachusetts securities regulators are wading into the murky waters of cryptocurrencies and “initial coin offerings.” The office of […] [Updated 1/19/18, 2:47 pm. See below.] This week in Boston tech, we’re tracking legal action against a so-called “initial coin offering,” hiring sprees, a pair of acquisitions, several venture funding rounds, and more. Read on for details. —Massachusetts securities regulators are wading into the murky waters of cryptocurrencies and “initial coin offerings.” The office of Secretary of State William Galvin filed administrative charges against Caviar and its partner, Kirill Bensonoff, alleging that the company’s ICO is an illegal sale of unregistered securities. Caviar has raised more than $3.1 million through the sale of digital tokens that enable purchasers to... Read more » Reprints | Share:           [...]



UTA Using Robots, Shakespeare to Study Ways to Address Loneliness [Xconomy VC/Deals]

2018-01-19T09:26:45-08:00

Dallas—In healthcare, robots are being created to help with tasks like disinfecting hospital rooms or alerting patients when it’s time to take medications. A study at the Emotional Robotics Living Lab at the University of Texas at Arlington is even exploring how human-robot connection can help fight depression. “We are looking at robots that would be […] Dallas—In healthcare, robots are being created to help with tasks like disinfecting hospital rooms or alerting patients when it’s time to take medications. A study at the Emotional Robotics Living Lab at the University of Texas at Arlington is even exploring how human-robot connection can help fight depression. “We are looking at robots that would be companions socially with human beings,” says Julienne Greer, an assistant professor of theatre at UTA, who specializes in robotics and performance. Greer also serves as the director of the lab, which was launched in November. Despite the many ways that technology supposedly binds us together—through... Read more » Reprints | Share:           [...]



Funding Friday: Milford Graves Full Mantis [A VC]

2018-01-19T05:37:07-08:00

I want to see this documentary when it comes out so I backed it on Kickstarter today to make sure it gets made.

I want to see this documentary when it comes out so I backed it on Kickstarter today to make sure it gets made.

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Tougher “Immigration” Policies On Foreign Tech Crossing U.S. Border [Xconomy VC/Deals]

2018-01-19T03:00:50-08:00

It’s not only people from other countries that are struggling harder to get into the United States these days, it seems. Technology from foreign nations may also be subject to stricter “immigration” rules. The national origins of tech devices and services wasn’t a front-burner question—at least for the general public—until the issue came up at […] It’s not only people from other countries that are struggling harder to get into the United States these days, it seems. Technology from foreign nations may also be subject to stricter “immigration” rules. The national origins of tech devices and services wasn’t a front-burner question—at least for the general public—until the issue came up at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in May on Russia’s suspected hacking of the 2016 presidential election. Leaders of six U.S. intelligence agencies—including the FBI, CIA, and the National Security Agency—all told the senators they would not be comfortable using cybersecurity software provided by Russia-based Kaspersky Lab.... Read more » Reprints | Share:           [...]



IU Spinout CyUtil Helps VR Developers Create More Immersive Products [Xconomy VC/Deals]

2018-01-19T02:10:15-08:00

Imagine you’re a world history teacher in rural Indiana who wants to give students the chance to tour the great pyramids of Egypt—feeling the sun’s warmth on their faces and smelling the aromatic spices used to cook the food eaten by pharaohs—without leaving the state. Thanks to virtual reality technology being developed by Indiana University […] Imagine you’re a world history teacher in rural Indiana who wants to give students the chance to tour the great pyramids of Egypt—feeling the sun’s warmth on their faces and smelling the aromatic spices used to cook the food eaten by pharaohs—without leaving the state. Thanks to virtual reality technology being developed by Indiana University spinout CyUtil, immersive, simulated trips abroad may soon be possible. CyUtil was founded last year by Chauncey Frend, a programmer and analyst in IU’s Advanced Visualization Lab. Frend wanted to help software developers creating their own virtual reality or augmented reality systems to add... Read more » Reprints | Share:           [...]



Absences, Surprises in Amazon’s Final List of 20 Cities for HQ2 [Xconomy VC/Deals]

2018-01-18T10:05:13-08:00

And then there were 20. Amazon has winnowed down the field of 238 submissions from communities around North America vying to host a second headquarters (HQ2) of the Seattle-based tech giant. Most large cities with existing or emerging tech hubs appear on the list, from Austin, TX, and Boston, MA, to Washington, DC, and Toronto, […] And then there were 20. Amazon has winnowed down the field of 238 submissions from communities around North America vying to host a second headquarters (HQ2) of the Seattle-based tech giant. Most large cities with existing or emerging tech hubs appear on the list, from Austin, TX, and Boston, MA, to Washington, DC, and Toronto, Canada—the only non-U.S. city to make the finals. There were a few notable absences from the list, released early today. Detroit, MI, which had high expectations as a competitor, was left out, as was Madison, WI, and most of California. San Diego and San Francisco... Read more » Reprints | Share:           [...]



Accomplice Reloads With $205M Fund After Makeover [Xconomy VC/Deals]

2018-01-18T09:46:05-08:00

Accomplice, one of the Boston area’s prominent early-stage venture firms, has restocked its dry powder to invest in tech startups. Accomplice raised $205 million for its second fund, according to a spokesperson. The firm announced the new fund in a blog post Thursday. Partner Jeff Fagnan (pictured) declined to comment further. The fund marks a […] Accomplice, one of the Boston area’s prominent early-stage venture firms, has restocked its dry powder to invest in tech startups. Accomplice raised $205 million for its second fund, according to a spokesperson. The firm announced the new fund in a blog post Thursday. Partner Jeff Fagnan (pictured) declined to comment further. The fund marks a new chapter for one of the Boston area’s most active venture firms, which has undergone a significant transformation over the past three-and-a-half years. The firm was formed after the tech investing side of Atlas Venture split off in the fall of 2014 from the life sciences... Read more » Reprints | Share:           [...]



Some thoughts on the Amazon Echo SpotMy son needed an alarm clock and he was itching to get the... [BijanBlog]

2018-01-18T06:42:08-08:00

Some thoughts on the Amazon Echo SpotMy son needed an alarm clock and he was itching to get the Amazon Echo Spot. So Santa got him one for Xmas. He loves it. He already connected it to a Philips Hue Light for his bedside lamp and with a few vocal commands he plays tunes, turns on and off the lamp and sets his morning alarm. Pretty sweet. So based on his glowing recommendation I got one for the master bedroom. Lauren looked at the little round glowing device with some skepticism but said okay let’s give this a try. The Echo Spot works as advertised. Voice recognition is great. And it is a mighty fine alarm clock. But it’s not great for a shared bedroom or with multiple people in the household. For example the other night I got to bed super late and Lauren was already fast asleep. The only way to set the alarm is by voice. You can’t set the alarm with the Alexa iOS app which is surprising. So I ended up breaking my personal rule and brought my iPhone to the bedroom to set the alarm. I was also going to get a Philips Hue light for our bedside lamps. I would love to tell my lamp to turn and off by voice. But Lauren would rather use the switch on the wall. The only way this works is if everyone uses the light the same way. And I’m already hard enough to live with so I passed on the Hue lights. Our master bedroom is down the hall from James bedroom. But I’ve noticed that when I talk to our Echo, it will frequently wake his device as well. Other times I’ve inadvertently triggered our master bedroom Echo during a conversation with Lauren. It’s a little jarring to have the robot butt in. Another incident happened this morning. I walked James to the bus stop. Afterward I went back into the house and upstairs to grab a few things. His bedside lamp was still on (we are so the same). I tried issuing a bunch of verbal commands to turn off his light. But it turns out I don’t know how he labeled his lamp so I couldn’t do it. I ended up manually switching it off which isn’t an ideal solution since he won’t be able to turn it on via voice now. I’m excited about smart devices being voice enabled. But right now they just aren’t there for our household. [...]



Owning Yourself [A VC]

2018-01-18T04:54:03-08:00

I saw the news today that HuffPo is shutting down their “contributor network.” we are ending the HuffPost contributor platform. The platform, which launched in May 2005, was a revolutionary idea at the time: give a megaphone to lots of people ― some famous, some completely unknown ― to tell their stories. At that time, social networks […]

I saw the news today that HuffPo is shutting down their “contributor network.”

we are ending the HuffPost contributor platform. The platform, which launched in May 2005, was a revolutionary idea at the time: give a megaphone to lots of people ― some famous, some completely unknown ― to tell their stories. At that time, social networks barely existed. Facebook was a nascent dating site for college students. Twitter had not been invented. The platforms where so many people now share their views, like LinkedIn, Medium and others, were far in the future.

While that is sad news, it is not the least bit surprising.

I said this on Twitter about this news:

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Web 2.0 Summit Day One [From Istanbul To Sand Hill Road]

2008-11-05T18:58:47-08:00

The Web 2.0 Summit started today. If there was one word to describe the overall atmosphere and mood is that it was 'muted.' Despite the new president, the mood lacked the spark and feeling of being part of something big. It was definitely there two years ago. That was then, this is now. We'll see how the rest of it goes. I heard one good stat. Even though the iPhone is only 5% of the smartphone market, it represents 74% of the mobile web traffic. That's an eye-popping number. Once again proof that if you design something well, like the UI of the web surfing experience, people will use it. Welcome to the design era of technology. AT&T must be very happy with its deal and the data revenues its getting as a result. Also, Mary Meeker gave her state of the internet presentation. Lots of good data in there. Whou would think that Skype is about to become the world's largest carrier? You can get it here.The Web 2.0 Summit started today.  If there was one word to describe the overall atmosphere and mood is that it was 'muted.'  Despite the new president, the mood lacked the spark and feeling of being part of something big.  It was definitely there two years ago.  That was then, this is now.  We'll see how the rest of it goes. I heard one good stat.  Even though the iPhone is only 5% of the smartphone market, it represents 74% of the mobile web traffic.  That's an eye-popping number.  Once again proof that if you design something well, like the UI of the web surfing experience, people will use it.  Welcome to the design era of technology.  AT&T must be very happy with its deal and the data revenues its getting as a result. Also, Mary Meeker gave her state of the internet presentation.  Lots of good data in there.  Whou would think that Skype is about to become the world's largest carrier?  You can get it here.  [...]



The NY Times Says Yelp has Arrived [Nothing ventured, nothing gained]

2008-11-04T19:08:24-08:00

It's not often that the venerable New York Times publishes a glowing piece on one of my portfolio companies. This is a welcome bit of good cheer amidst the backdrop of a generally gloomy economy.  When I invested in the young company founded by Jeremy S. and Russ S. back in 2005, Yelp had attracted about 100,000 San Franciscans to its site.  Today, with more than 15,000,000 monthly visitors, it (image)



Humor without the lies, please [Nothing ventured, nothing gained]

2008-11-02T12:01:58-08:00

I admit that I'm a frequent reader of Valleywag, a low-brow blog full of silicon valley gossip.  It's often pretty funny, and I know many of the people referenced in the stories, which only adds to the entertainment value.Last week, however, the blog ran an entry containing a fabricated story.  The entry was meant to embarrass Jimmy Wales, an entrepreneur we backed two years ago.  If there is (image)



Pumpkin O-The Times [From Istanbul To Sand Hill Road]

2008-10-31T21:11:10-07:00

One of our close friends have a pumpkin carving day tradition. This one was one of the best pumpkins carved that day. Thanks Pete & Ayse. Happy Halloween!

One of our close friends have a pumpkin carving day tradition.

This one was one of the best pumpkins carved that day.  Thanks Pete & Ayse. 

Happy Halloween!

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Thoughts on European Start Ups [localglobe]

2008-10-30T09:34:59-07:00

I had a great time putting this presentation together past week to give at the O'Reilly Web2Expo in Berlin.Thoughts on European Start UpsView SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: startups vc)Thanks to everyone for the embedding, the video and the really great feedback - much appreciated.For some really practical advice, check out Robin's great post on cash management. [...]



It's The Economy [From Istanbul To Sand Hill Road]

2008-10-29T20:23:26-07:00

I've been traveling to Canada a lot for work lately. Air Canada has shown me many movies on demand, United has not given any choice, and both have shamelessly asked for $3 for headphones I haven't paid. None of the movies I saw moved me except for one. Ironically, it was the one I thought would be the worst and avoided consistently until the last leg of the final flight that I am writing this now. I watched "Hancock", barely finished it. I watched "The Incredible Hulk", didn't finish it. I watched "Sex and The City" and couldn't finish it. The plane was landing. I watched Indiana Jones again, and again didn't like it as much as the previous one, "The Last Crusade". The last movie I saw was "Swing Vote". It was a painful movie to watch in the beginning. It was also bad in the middle...but the ending. When Bud asked that question I couldn't help but cry. We need a president who wakes up every morning and asks himself the same question and spends his whole life building a legacy around answering it. I am not going to tell you what question that is. You need to watch the movie if you haven't yet. But this blogger believes that the candidate who can devote his life to answer it is Barack Obama. P.S. This is not a political blog, but around this time, once every four years, there may be a politically inclined post :-)I've been traveling to Canada a lot for work lately.  Air Canada has shown me many movies on demand, United has not given any choice, and both have shamelessly asked for $3 for headphones I haven't paid. None of the movies I saw moved me except for one.  Ironically, it was the one I thought would be the worst and avoided consistently until the last leg of the final flight that I am writing this now.I watched "Hancock", barely finished it.  I watched "The Incredible Hulk", didn't finish it.  I watched "Sex and The City" and couldn't finish it.  The plane was landing.  I watched Indiana Jones again, and again didn't like it as much as the previous one, "The Last Crusade".The last movie I saw was "Swing Vote".  It was a painful movie to watch in the beginning.  It was also bad in the middle...but the ending.   When Bud asked that question I couldn't help but cry.  We need a president who wakes up every morning and asks himself the same question and spends his whole life building a legacy around answering it.  I am not going to tell you what question that is.  You need to watch the movie if you haven't yet.   But this blogger believes that the candidate who can devote his life to answer it is Barack Obama.P.S. This is not a political blog, but around this time, once every four years, there may be a politically inclined post :-) [...]



Android Is a Success [From Istanbul To Sand Hill Road]

2008-10-29T09:51:04-07:00

For a new mobile technology, let alone an operating system, to go from announcement to shipping product is, however you look at it, a spectacular success. That's exactly what happened to Android with the G1 phone available from T-Mobile. It normally takes years for any technology to get in a carrier's network. Android did it in one year. In addition, Walt Mossberg called it "a worthy competitor to the iPhone". Given the iPhone is one of the most impactful technology innovations of the last 3 years, that's is a big statement. Now we are also hearing that Motorola is reorganizing around Android. Yet another sign of success in such a short period of time. Last year I predicted that Android would be a success, I consider that prediction to have come true. Here is what I wrote then, still quite valid: "1) The Success of Google's Android and the Open Handset Alliance: This means that handsets will become more like PC's and wireless carriers will become more like landline DSL providers. This is a bold statement because both handset makers (like Nokia) and carriers (like Vodafone) don't want this to happen. So why do I predict a change in an industry where dinosaurs were surviving for such a long time? Because a meteor the size of Texas hit the wireless industry in 2007 and it was called the iPhone. For the first time in the wireless industry, the handset chose the carrier as opposed to the carrier choosing the handset. The product was so impactful and well designed that some carriers agreed to share 30-40% of their data revenues with Apple in order to have the device on their network. That could be a very meaningful $200 dollars to Apple. Why did carriers agree to that? Because the carriers did the math and the revenue share probably made up the customer acquisition cost that they no longer had to pay which, in the US, is about $200. In return for that bargain they gave up ALL revenue from applications, ringtones etc. The consumers wanted it, they gave it, and doing so opened up the market an catalyzed the next innovation which came from Google. Android and the Open Handset Alliance, enables other people to quickly create new iPhones. It creates an environment that let's developers focus on what they do best, which is writing innovative applications. So that somebody can come up with a device so compelling that it too will chose their carrier (if carriers need a nudge Google can share search revenues, if they need a punch they'll fund an open carrier). Once that happens, the carriers become a dumb pipe, but a dumb pipe with similar economics and no worries for churn. The second reason carriers may embrace Android, is so they don't have to be hostage to Nokia which is exerting a bigger and bigger pressure on carriers. They are even building an ad network and making carriers pay them a piece of their ad revenues....For a new mobile technology, let alone an operating system, to go from announcement to shipping product is, however you look at it, a spectacular success.  That's exactly what happened to Android wit[...]



Congratulations Like.com [From Istanbul To Sand Hill Road]

2008-10-23T11:11:37-07:00

Congratulations Munjal and the rest of the like.com team on the fundraising! It is just one more testament to the fantastic product you are building. As an angel investor, it is a great pleasure to see the team grow, mature and become that great business that it deserves to be. What a wonderful ride to be a part of.

Congratulations Munjal and the rest of the like.com team on the fundraising!  It is just one more testament to the fantastic product you are building.  As an angel investor, it is a great pleasure to see the team grow, mature and become that great business that it deserves to be.  What a wonderful ride to be a part of.

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Like.com Raises $32M Series C [Venture Explorer]

2008-10-22T11:16:58-07:00

TechCrunch reports on portfolio company Like.com's recent funding. Munjal's timing was exquisite and the company is now very well-positioned to not just survive, but thrive, in a tough climate.

TechCrunch reports on portfolio company Like.com's recent funding.

Munjal's timing was exquisite and the company is now very well-positioned to not just survive, but thrive, in a tough climate.




Macbook Environmental Report [Salman's blog]

2008-10-15T14:44:00-07:00

Kudos to Apple for putting out an environmental report on their new Macbooks (via earth2tech).

Of course, I will have to point out that Apple estimates its embodied emissions (ie emissions from production and transport) to be 60% of the total lifecycle emissions of the product, versus 39% for customer use. Not to repeat myself too often, but why is it every one seems to be focusing on the 39% portion?

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Hamon Washoku Opens Today in San Carlos [Consuming Ambitions]

2008-10-15T13:00:15-07:00

Last Saturday my friend Bobby treated me and some friends to a sneak preview 7-course meal at his sleek new Japanese restaurant, Hamon Washoku (note, web site still under construction at press time) which opens today. Replacing the French crepes-n-coffee...



Stock Market Got You Down? Here's What $8.06 Buys at Fisher Farm [Consuming Ambitions]

2008-10-12T22:35:38-07:00

In the midst of the current economic meltdown comes a welcome recession buster from Doug Klein, CEO of LightPole and earnest foodie. He recently visited Fisher Farm and wrote in to describe his exploits: I stopped by Fisher on the...



Quote of The Day [From Istanbul To Sand Hill Road]

2008-10-09T14:08:29-07:00

"Apparently the Nigerian government has warned its citizens that if they get any e-mails from Irish/UK/US banks, promising government-backed deposit security and seeking bank account details, its a scam..." "Apparently the Nigerian government has warned its citizens that if they get anye-mails from Irish/UK/US banks, promising government-backed deposit securityand seeking bank account details, its a scam..." [...]



Portfolio Company Politics [Nothing ventured, nothing gained]

2008-10-01T19:01:08-07:00

I got nervous today when I heard one of my consumer internet portfolio companies had posted a political advertisement on YouTube. It seemed obvious to me that any consumer company is likely to alienate half of its customer base by making a political statement. No matter how well-executed the ad, it is guaranteed to hurt business as much as it helps.It appears that I may have jumped too quickly to(image)



Money fears [Nothing ventured, nothing gained]

2008-09-29T14:42:10-07:00

Doesn't this new version of the dollar bill do a perfect job capturing the essence of the Treasury Department's current state of mind?(image)



A Must-Read Blog for Entrepreneurs [Venture Explorer]

2008-09-29T14:32:35-07:00

My friend Eric Ries, co-founder/CTO of IMVU, has a great blog that's a must-read for entrepreneurs: here's the feedburner link: http://feeds.feedburner.com/startup/lessons/learned Subscribe now! This will save you time, money, headaches and ulcers ...

My friend Eric Ries, co-founder/CTO of IMVU, has a great blog that's a must-read for entrepreneurs: here's the feedburner link: http://feeds.feedburner.com/startup/lessons/learned

Subscribe now!  This will save you time, money, headaches and ulcers ...




An Interesting Counter Argument - Why Paulson is Wrong [From Istanbul To Sand Hill Road]

2008-09-26T16:06:27-07:00

http://faculty.chicagogsb.edu/luigi.zingales/Why_Paulson_is_wrong.pdf Here is the first paragraph as a teaser Why Paulson is Wrong Luigi Zingales Robert C. Mc Cormack Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance University of Chicago -GSB When a profitable company is hit by a very large liability, as was the case in 1985 when Texaco lost a $12 billion court case against Pennzoil, the solution is not to have the government buy its assets at inflated prices: the solution is Chapter 11. In Chapter 11, companies with a solid underlying business generally swap debt for equity: the old equity holders are wiped out and the old debt claims are transformed into equity claims in the new entity which continues operating with a new capital structure. Alternatively, the debtholders can agree to cut down the face value of debt, in exchange for some warrants. Even before Chapter 11, these procedures were the solutions adopted to deal with the large railroad bankruptcies at the turn of the twentieth century. So why is this wellestablished approach not used to solve the financial sectors current problems? The rest is herehttp://faculty.chicagogsb.edu/luigi.zingales/Why_Paulson_is_wrong.pdfHere is the first paragraph as a teaser Why Paulson is Wrong Luigi Zingales Robert C. Mc Cormack Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance University of Chicago -GSB When a profitable company is hit by a very large liability, as was the case in 1985 when Texaco lost a $12 billion court case against Pennzoil, the solution is not to have the government buy its assets at inflated prices: the solution is Chapter 11. In Chapter 11, companies with a solid underlying business generally swap debt for equity: the old equity holders are wiped out and the old debt claims are transformed into equity claims in the new entity which continues operating with a new capital structure. Alternatively, the debtholders can agree to cut down the face value of debt, in exchange for some warrants. Even before Chapter 11, these procedures were the solutions adopted to deal with the large railroad bankruptcies at the turn of the twentieth century. So why is this wellestablished approach not used to solve the financial sectors current problems?The rest is here [...]



Kindo ties the knot with MyHeritage [localglobe]

2008-09-22T16:51:34-07:00

Congratulations to Nils, Gareth and Andrew and the rest of the Kindo team. They have just announced that they are tying up with MyHeritage. See coverage on Washington Post via Techcrunch, VentureBeat and PaidContent.Over the last year the team has built a simple product which is a pleasure to use in over 14 languages -- all the while building a really nice tone of voice, perfect for the family market. Combining this savvy with MyHeritage's scale and smart technology for photos and family history promises something to look forward to for consumers.Related articles by ZemantaMyHeritage raises $15 million from Index and AccelKindo Finds a New HomeFamily Tree Wars Continue: MyHeritage Raises Big Round, Shows Impressive GrowthFamily Tree Site MyHeritage Gets $15 Million Second RoundNils is getting famous in SwedenKindo's day in the sun [...]






Oh my Goldman [Nothing ventured, nothing gained]

2008-09-18T17:40:16-07:00

I got a first-hand sense of how badly Goldman Sachs felt the pressure of the crumbling financial markets this morning.   At the start of a private company's board meeting I was attending, a director received a call on his cell phone.  One member of the board had not yet arrived, so the director answered the call in case it was the missing attendee.  He dispatched with the caller after about a (image)



Hadron Collider Starts in Half an Hour... [From Istanbul To Sand Hill Road]

2008-09-09T23:02:19-07:00

Here is the video that says it all

Here is the video that says it all

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Because "Bad, Dirty, and Unjust" Somehow Isn't Appealing [Consuming Ambitions]

2008-08-29T17:04:40-07:00

This weekend Slow Food hits Baghdad by the Bay. With a slogan of "Good, clean, and fair," the international movement started in 1989 launches perhaps its finest moment to date with a shindig billed as the largest celebration of American...



Those Who Live by the Sword ... [Venture Explorer]

2008-07-30T09:02:30-07:00

Cuil, a much-hyped search engine, launched yesterday. The blogosphere, after eager anticipation, has not been kind to Cuil. Web 2.0 is all about throwing things out there and seeing what works, but if you're going to drum up hype, you...

Cuil, a much-hyped search engine, launched yesterday.  The blogosphere, after eager anticipation, has not been kind to Cuil.  Web 2.0 is all about throwing things out there and seeing what works, but if you're going to drum up hype, you have to feed the hype monster tasty morsels.  The reaction from bloggers and commenters seems all the more vitriolic for having been promised foie gras and fobbed off with crackers instead.

At the risk of seeming to jump on the bandwagon of Cuil-bashers, I must confess that Cuil didn't do a great job finding me on the web either: the search results for "Vineet Buch" seemed of tertiary interest and didn't discover my professional page (that I am a Partner at BlueRun Ventures), or my LinkedIn or Facebook profiles. 




Is Google's Dominance of Search Self-perpetuating? [Venture Explorer]

2008-07-29T14:12:53-07:00

Mashable's Stan Schroeder expounds an interesting theory: that Google's current (and expanding) dominance in web search, at least in the English-speaking world, has trained websites to do all they can to show up high on Google - to such an...

Mashable's Stan Schroeder expounds an interesting theory: that Google's current (and expanding) dominance in web search, at least in the English-speaking world, has trained websites to do all they can to show up high on Google - to such an extent that no upstart search engine can hope to do better than Google for broad horizontal search.

Stan's review of recently launched, well-funded search startup Cuil, as also the TechCrunch review, are lukewarm at best and support Stan's thesis - but this thesis assumes that Google has the best possible knowledge of a user's intentions, and since websites will compete to match Google's algorithm that expresses that intention in a query, Google is by default the winner in any search competition. 

The flaw in this argument is that Google has very little information about a user's intention - indeed, Google doesn't even seem to use all the information it could have about the user, because of privacy and latency considerations (for instance, I doubt if Google looks up my interests in my Facebook profile when I search as a logged-in Google user, to discover that by typing the search term "kayak" I probably mean a watercraft and not a travel search engine).  Google is constantly refining its approaches to divining intention, of course ... and the masses of data generated by user searches help it get better every day. 

But web search is far from perfect today, and it stands to reason that Google's own momentum - and success - will lock it into the innovator's dilemma of doing little more than tweaking its existing algorithms.  And some enterprising startup will bring a refreshing new take to searching the web.  Wonder what it could be?




Is the Online Display Ad Market Being Overhyped? [Venture Explorer]

2008-07-29T13:22:05-07:00

Back in April, I'd written about the really slow movement of brand ad dollars online. Advertising Age just ran an article diving into some of the points I'd raised, and they're worth exploring again. There are a few choice quotes...

Back in April, I'd written about the really slow movement of brand ad dollars online.  Advertising Age just ran an article diving into some of the points I'd raised, and they're worth exploring again.  There are a few choice quotes from Ad Age that I felt compelled to mention here:

The inconvenient truth is that for all its new-media spin, display advertising is "old" media -- a commercial message to be placed next to editorial or entertainment content.

part of why large companies such as P&G spend so little on the web is because of the feedback they get from the marketing-mix models they still use to determine media outlays: TV and other old media still work. (P&G increased its magazine budget by 7% last year.)

For all its glory, the internet still has not proven itself capable of being a primary branding medium. Most ads online are response-based and work best for brand marketers when they complement a branding campaign in other media.

"The biggest gating factor to internet ad growth is the obsession of the players, the [venture capitalists] and the press with 'bottom of the funnel' marketing in a world where the big money is spent at the top," said Rob Norman, CEO of Group M Interaction. [OUCH!]





The CAT is out of the bag [Salman's blog]

2008-07-27T09:29:00-07:00

I’ve been toying with the idea of a Value Added Tax on embodied carbon, and I’ve been meaning to put some thoughts in writing. So I came up with what I thought was the brilliantly original acronym: CAT for a “Carbon Added Tax”.

Then I did a search, and found that Nobel-laureate Joe Stiglitz recently proposed the same idea:
"A carbon added tax (CAT), levied at each stage of production, would have some of the same advantages that a value added consumption tax has. Each producer would have to show receipts for the carbon tax paid on inputs into its production. The taxes levied at each stage of production would be passed on to consumers. It is as if the tax were imposed on consumers… A carbon value added tax will both discourage production in more carbon intensive ways and discourage the consumption of carbon intensive goods."
His proposal pretty much sums up my thought process…

But perhaps even more interesting is that some one called Ewan O'Leary, registered the URLs for carbonaddedtax.com and .org last February. Now that is some real forward thinking!!! ;-)



OUR personal data on the web [Salman's blog]

2008-07-17T03:07:00-07:00

Our data is born free, but everywhere it is in chains.

We need a new "Social Data Contract" for the web.



The 11 Best Foods You May Not Be Eating [Consuming Ambitions]

2008-07-16T23:20:41-07:00

Tara Parker-Pope of the New York Times did a piece recently boldly titled The 11 Best Foods You Aren't Eating -- a bit presumptuous in that anybody who is at least somewhat health conscious is heeding the frequently heard advice...



Letters to Economist Editors [Salman's blog]

2008-07-11T13:01:00-07:00

I read the Economist religiously - or rather I partly skim and partly read the Economist religiously every week. So it was nice that they published a letter I wrote them. (Of course, it relates to Embodied Emissions.)What was surprising is how much they edited the letter. At first, I was taken aback: after all, they had lost the nuance of some of my points. On reflection though, it is quite amazing and flattering that they would take the time and effort to completely re-write such letters to drive home the point they think is worth publishing.In any case, here is the original letter I sent:Dear Sir,Your article entitled “Emissions Suspicions” (June 19 2008) ignores the principle of “consumer-responsibility” - that consumers can be responsible for the carbon embodied in the goods they consume. If our society decides to proactively reduce its total carbon emissions, it makes little sense to just focus on the carbon being emitted (or “produced”) directly in our society. For example, a study by Oxford’s Dieter Helm showed that while “UK greenhouse gas [emitted directly in the UK has] fallen by 15% since 1990…on a consumption basis, the illustrative outcome is a rise in emissions of 19% over the same period… Trade may have displaced the UK’s greenhouse gas appetite elsewhere.” Whether this displacement was caused by carbon regulations or other factors is less relevant - What matters is the total amount of carbon that was emitted to produce the goods and services consumed in the UK.As such, a “carbon tariff” on embodied carbon should not be compared to traditional “import taxes”. The correct analogy is a “Sales tax”. Today, governments tax goods and services both at the point of production (via corporate taxes) and consumption (via VATs or other sales tax). But emissions regulations to-date have been aimed solely at the “production” of green house gases. It is the principle of reducing carbon “consumption” that matters more than the economic implications of leakage (which is the focus of your article.)But is this principle practicable? Your article also claims that assessing embodied emissions is an “impossibly complicated task.” But much work has been done in this area, specifically by UK based “Carbon Trust” (with the BSI and DEFRA) to create standards and make the process simpler, fair and practical. It would have been more appropriate to reference (if not, asses[...]



Marten Mickos of MySQL on building Open Source Software businesses [Venture Explorer]

2008-07-07T17:28:08-07:00

I had the privilege of attending an informal presentation by Marten Mickos, CEO of MySQL, last week at SAP Labs. Marten was his usual candid self, and spoke frankly about the challenges of making money in Open Source, why MySQL...

I had the privilege of attending an informal presentation by Marten Mickos, CEO of MySQL, last week at SAP Labs.  Marten was his usual candid self, and spoke frankly about the challenges of making money in Open Source, why MySQL sold to Sun and the ups and downs after the acquisition closed.  Key takeaways:

  • Open Source really is a smarter way to create software; somewhat because of community code contribution, but even more because the omnipresent threat of public scrutiny makes everybody produce better software
  • By trying to buy Yahoo, which is built mostly on Open Source tools, even Microsoft has indirectly affirmed the value and longevity of Open Source.  Nokia's acquisition of Symbian and subsequent open-sourcing of its software, and Oracle's acquisition of InnoDB and BerkeleyDB are other affirmations.
  • You can't build Open Source businesses on services and support alone; the love and passion of your users is great, but open checkbooks are even better.
  • Nothing sells itself. Not Coke, not Pepsi, and certainly not software, Open Source or proprietary.  Most Open Source companies underestimate the need for a sales-force that can generate lucrative leads and close meaningful deals, and that's why so few Open Source companies make money
  • Sun buying MySQL made MySQL much more appealing to big enterprises - they appreciate the backing and commitment of a large player.  This is reflected in the warmer reception MySQL's sales team gets at large accounts
  • MySQL sold to Sun instead of going public for a couple of reasons, but the most important one, apart from the immediate financial return, was the great cultural fit with a company whose tagline is "The Network is the Computer" - ideal for MySQL, which has long billed itself as the database for the Web
  • As the software industry matures and buyers get more power vis-a-vis vendors, software providers will have to cooperate more in a bid to provide workable solutions rather than shelfware.  Sun is already doing this in its relationships with Oracle, IBM, HP ...



Beer Brewing FAQ [Consuming Ambitions]

2008-07-01T11:16:23-07:00

Okay, last time we did wine, so now it's time to give beer some air time. I am fortunate to work with a bona fide beermeister, and by that I do not mean somebody with Animal House style binge tendencies,...



Miyowa lève 8 millions de dollars pour son second tour de table [Techfund.Info]Gregoire

2008-07-01T03:34:34-07:00

Moins de deux ans après sa première levée de fonds, l’éditeur de messagerie instantanée mobile clôture un deuxième tour de table. Objectif : lancer un nouveau produit et se développer outre-Atlantique. Après une première levée de fonds de 3 millions d’euros réalisée en septembre 2006 auprès des fonds de capital-risque Techfund et Sophia Eurolab, Miyowa […](image)


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The Polluter is the Consumer [Salman's blog]

2008-06-24T01:47:00-07:00

Here is another high level analysis of embodied carbon in imports by Oxford’s Dieter Helm (et al). It looks at the UK’s carbon emissions from the “consumption point of view.” The paper notes that using conventional producer-based carbon accounting-methods,“UK greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by 15% since 1990. In contrast, on a consumption basis, the illustrative outcome is a rise in emissions of 19% over the same period. This is a dramatic reversal of fortune… It suggests that the decline in greenhouse gas emissions from the UK economy may have been to a considerable degree an illusion. Trade may have displaced the UK’s greenhouse gas appetite elsewhere.”The same paper has a well-articulated overview of the “consumer vs producer” paradigm:“Both these [currently used] methodologies are based on the location of the production of greenhousegases. This, however, is a somewhat misleading and partial basis for policy purposes. For a country could have a very low production of greenhouse gases, but at the same time have a high consumption level. It could produce low-GHG-intensity goods, but import and consume high-GHG-intensity goods. Thus, a developed country might cease to produce steel, aluminium, glass and chemicals domestically, but import the manufactured goods from abroad. In the UK’s case, the shift of production in such activities to China, India and other developing countries in the last two decades suggests that this effect may be considerable… China might argue that, although it produces high emissions, these are on behalf of consumers in developed countries, and therefore the consumers should pay for the relevant reductions. In this way, the polluter is not the producer, but rather the consumer.”Also, the paper finds that “by 2006, the trade deficit in greenhouse gases [in the UK] was 341 MtCO2e, around 50% of domestic UK greenhouse gas emissions.” Another data point in understanding our total carbon footprint.____________________________Notes:Thanks to David McKay’s blog for pointing me to the above paper.Also - Bold emphasis above added.[...]



Muxtape 2.0 [Dav-generated Content]

2008-06-12T20:13:00-07:00

I made another one http://davduf2.muxtape.com/

In other news, I'm leaving Desjardins Venture Capital next week to join the JLA Ventures team as an associate. More on this - and an overhaul of this blog, including, hopefully, actual blogging - very soon.

Also, in the last few days I have lost my spot as the #1 Tungle Space creator and intend to win it back. That is, unless I follow Rick's advice and get a Mac laptop and then have to wait for Tungle's complete Mac and Google integration. But, right now sitting here, I'm having Voodoo Envy envy.



Entrepreneurial “procrastination” – easy to be a victim [Sid Mohasseb]

2008-06-02T19:29:14-07:00

The first proof of the preacher himself committing the sin is my inability to do a Blog in recent weeks – shame on me for procrastinating!

Now back to preaching…

Procrastinating on getting to revenue equals sudden death.

Recently an entrepreneur passionately indicated that they have potential customers that are willing to buy their product NOW, but they are holding back until they raise more capital! because they are concerned about the growth and how they can control it; they have seen this before as they claimed.

Upon further investigation, it became clear that the product works, there are no technical reasons for delay, and that the customer is actually willing to pay a portion of the fees in advance; which can support staffing and internal expenses. This conversation has bothered me to the point of motivating me to write a post (thank god for the motivation!). So, I would like to remind some of my entrepreneur friends of the following key facts of entrepreneurship:

1. Avoiding a potential mistake, may be as bad as making a new mistake
2. A business is built on revenues not raised capital
3. The more of the company you keep the better off you are!
4. Before you control growth you should experience it
5. Risk is a part of life.
6. Fear of failure is as BAD as if not worst than fear of success
7. There is a thing called “competition” , while you ponder they are executing!(image)



Fred Wilson on how he made it as a VC [Venture Explorer]

2008-06-02T16:28:35-07:00

Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures just wrote a very informative and articulate post on how he made it as a VC. Here's what Fred thinks you should do (as opposed to what he did): The way you do that...Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures just wrote a very informative and articulate post on how he made it as a VC.  Here's what Fred thinks you should do (as opposed to what he did):
The way you do that is you work for at least ten years in the industry, getting operating experience, building a killer rolodex, and learning how the business works from the inside. Then in your mid to late 30s, you can make the move to the venture capital business, as a partner, not as a wet behind the ears associate who doesn't know anything other than how to push numbers around a spreadsheet.
A number of VC firms do, in fact, hire precisely based on this profile.  If you're not prepared to take such a circuitous path, here's a post I wrote a while back on finding a job in venture capital.








Judging at Under The Radar Social Media and Entertainment Summit [Venture Explorer]

2008-05-27T13:05:18-07:00

I'll be a judge at the Games track at the Under The Radar Social Media and Entertainment Summit June 3rd in Mountain View. Good mix of companies and I'm looking forward to it!I'll be a judge at the Games track at the Under The Radar Social Media and Entertainment Summit June 3rd in Mountain View.  Good mix of companies and I'm looking forward to it!



The Landscape of Cloud Computing [Venture Explorer]

2008-05-13T20:17:29-07:00

It's pretty well known that Amazon Web Services' EC2 and S3 initiatives have taken off and are gaining users not just in startup land but in Corporate America as well. Amazon provides a compute and storage cloud, and the rush...

It's pretty well known that Amazon Web Services' EC2 and S3 initiatives have taken off and are gaining users not just in startup land but in Corporate America as well. Amazon provides a compute and storage cloud, and the rush of companies big (e.g., Google) and small (e.g., Nirvanix) beginning to compete with Amazon in providing clouds has spawned a term and a movement - Cloud Computing. 

I've been involved with precursors to cloud computing (Utility Computing, Grid Computing, Application Service Providers - ASPs) from my days at Corio, an early ASP acquired by IBM in 2005. In fact, back in graduate school at Cornell, I did research on assembling commodity hardware into compute grids.  Small wonder, then, that Cloud Computing is an area I'm looking at quite actively for potential investments.

Peter Laird has a great blog post that defines the landscape of Cloud Computing; I encourage anybody interested in the space to read Peter's post.  And Peter's cheat-sheet on the players is invaluable if you want to appear well-informed :-)




Transportation and Carbon-Conscious Consumers [Salman's blog]

2008-05-03T13:33:00-07:00

As a sector, transportation is certainly a significant source of carbon emissions. But perhaps because it is so visible, or even tactile, transportation gets a lot of attention, and people tend to overstate its role in embodied emissions. Some recent NY Times articles make references to some related data which are worth quoting:From the Green Issue of the Magazine: “It is the locavore’s dilemma that organic bananas delivered by a fuel-efficient boat may be responsible for less energy use than highly fertilized, nonorganic potatoes trucked from a hundred miles away. Even locally grown, organic greenhouse tomatoes can consume 20 percent more resources than a tomato from a far-off warm climate, because of all the energy needed to run the greenhouse.”The same issue also quoted the famous New Zealand studies, though in a somewhat skeptical tone: “A handful of studies have recently suggested that in certain cases under certain conditions, produce from places as far away as New Zealand might account for less carbon than comparable domestic products.”Also, when Timberland studied the embodied emissions of its shoes, “the company was surprised to find that transportation may account for less than 5 percent of its greenhouse-gas emissions — while almost 80 percent may come from making the leather, a process buried deep in its supply chain.” (Note however that Timberland seems to have overestimated the emissions related to the leather.)The above study is consistent with Weber and Matthews’ study on the embodied emissions of imports into the United States, which suggests that “CO2 emissions due to international freight transport are unlikely to increase the totals [of embodied emissions in imports] by more than 10%.”In an article on the environmental impact of groceries, it was calculated that a bottle of European wine drunk in New York has 1.4kg of embodied CO2, while a Napa bottle would have 2.5kg. Ironically, in this case, the major difference does lie in transportation, since Napa wine is trucked to New York, while French wine is shipped, thus consuming far less carbon per mile shipped.So much for drinking local (or at least nation[...]



Discounted admission to UTR Social Media and Entertainment [Venture Explorer]

2008-05-01T09:27:02-07:00

Dealmaker Media is offering readers $100 off the Under the Radar Social Media and Entertainment event on June 3rd in Mountain View, CA. Click here or on the image below to register with the discount. Here's the conference description (I'm...Dealmaker Media is offering readers $100 off the Under the Radar Social Media and Entertainment event on June 3rd in Mountain View, CA.  Click here or on the image below to register with the discount.Here's the conference description (I'm a judge, btw): Under the Radar: Social Media and EntertainmentJune 3, 2008 | 8:00am – 6:00pm Microsoft Campus | Mountain View, CA If you can't beat 'em, buy 'em. No longer is big media trying to compete with the content companies that were stealing the show - instead, they're offering them a premium channel. From YouTube to Bebo and MySpace to Club Penguin, every media mogul, Hollywood tycoon and Silicon Valley innovator wants a piece of this pie.  But even Toto knows we're not in Kansas anymore - technology has changed, business models and ad metrics are being reinvented, and the pressure to turn millions of eyeballs into billions of cash is on. Blink once and they just might get side-swiped by a startup with a better product, a smarter model and, even worse, nothing to lose.Under the Radar will uncover 32 startups in the entertainment and social media space that have launched within the year. Covering social networks, advertising, casual gaming, virtual worlds, measurement tools, video, commerce, publishing and more, Under the Radar is the only forum that empowers its audience to discover tomorrow’s leading tech companies. PRESENTERS: 33Across - Identifies influential online users Animoto - Create personalized, professional-quality videos from images and music, offering a new alternative to traditional online photo slideshows AudioMicro - Stock music and sound effects licensing platform Aviary -Suite of web-based applications for people who create and a marketplace to sell that content Dizzywood - A virtual world that allows kids to dress up 3D avatars, play games, explore worlds and meet new friends in a[...]



Novaled AG is awarded Red Herring Europe 100 Winner 2008 and announces financial results for 2007 [Techfund.Info]Gregoire

2008-04-21T05:47:29-07:00

Novaled, a major know how and service provider for highly efficient long lifetime OLEDs, announces today that the company is winner of Red Herring 100 Europe 2008, an award given to the top 100 private technology companies each year. At the same time Novaled releases the last year’s results proving the enterprises rapid growth.Red Herring’s […](image)


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Saul Griffith’s Carbon Footprints Part II – Some numbers [Salman's blog]

2008-04-20T12:30:00-07:00

Following my previous post, I thought to look at Saul’s energy usage / carbon footprint calculations by separating out his personal energy usage from his work related consumption.See the notes below on how I have separated the work from the personal energy usage. The chart below separates out the numbers into 4 categories, and speaks for itself. Almost half of Saul’s home energy usage comes from “Food and Stuff” which represents the embodied emissions of his consumer purchases. Of course, as Saul has pointed out, he has probably underestimated the energy usage associated with these categories.Again, people can dispute the difficulty of calculating the embodied emissions of “stuff”, but at almost 4 times the energy usage of his home heat and electricity, Saul’s calculations should at least, again, put the importance of embodied emissions in perspective.__________________________A few other notes:Like the truck driver in my previous post, Saul’s major source of carbon emissions relates to his travel for work. His total work related energy use should be compared to the value of his work, in revenues from his company or at least with the costs associated with the company. This figure should be compared to other businesses in the same sector.Energy usage of ‘stuff’ related to work would probably need to be more comprehensive, including things like capital goods (servers, furniture), services delivered to his workplace (fedex, as well as consumables (like pencils and paper and printer toner.)Here is the data:Some notes on separating work from home usage:Saul mentions that most of his air travel is for work, so I put in a “wild guess” number of 90% related to work. Inversely, I assumed 90% of his car usage was for personal (ie home) use.In stuff, I only allocated his laptop to work. As noted above, there are probably other work related goods that should be added to his work “stuff”The allocation of societal consumption is an interesting one. Here I have assumed it is half for work and half for home. After all, government exists to serve both ind[...]



Saul Griffith’s Carbon Footprints Part I – More on Consumer vs Producer Responsibility [Salman's blog]

2008-04-15T13:45:00-07:00

“Power Consumption at work... This... brings up a very interesting point... where do you draw the lines in figuring out your own energy consumption? Does work energy go against you or the product of that work?”Saul Griffith’s excellent presentation gives a very thorough view of carbon foot-printing, and the particular question above is quite fundamental. I would argue that personal energy consumption should be treated separately from energy use for work. The energy use related to our work should show up embodied in the product of our work.A few examples could help illustrate why…Say I am truck driver that delivers apples ( ;-) ) to a local grocery store. It would not make sense to mix my personal energy consumption behavior with my job as a truck driver. Even if I lead a carbon neutral personal life, mixing my stellar home footprint and my work related emissions would give a distorted view of the choices I can make – ie the factors which are under my control, in my personal life.Now let’s imagine the exact opposite case. Let’s say you are a small business owner, doing most of your work from the office using emails and phones. Again, you could be driving a hummer from home to work, and leave your oven on 24 hours a day, but if you mix your personal and work energy usage, you would still seem more eco-friendly than the me.Now, to drive the point home, imagine that you are my boss, and you are responsible for deciding the kind of truck I would drive. Clearly, the distortion created by mixing personal and professional energy use and footprints would make the exercise quite meaningless.This is not to say we shouldn’t worry about our work related energy use. All of us have some say in the energy consumption of our workplace. And we can make choices to affect it. But the energy consumption of my apple delivery business should be compared with the energy consumption of other apple delivery businesses, or delivery businesses in general. The result of our work, and the energy we consume to deliver it, would both be manifested in the [...]



Carbon Emissions in Developing Countries: Producer vs Consumer Responsibility [Salman's blog]

2008-04-06T01:48:00-07:00

“Developing countries, whose economies and populations are growing fastest, [will] contribute 74% of the increase in global primary energy use [until 2030]. China and India alone account for 45% of this increase.” World Energy Outlook 2007, IEA So three quarters of all new power production capacity will be in developing countries. Close to half of it in India and China. And according to the same report: “China, with four times as many people, overtakes the United States to become the world’s largest energy consumer soon after 2010. In 2005, US demand was more than one third larger.”And... “In the longer term, [in China,] demand slows as the economy matures, the structure of output shifts towards less energy-intensive activities and more energy-efficient technologies are introduced.”This last sentence is the most interesting. It sounds like the basic assumption of the report is that China will make a typical progression towards a more advanced economy: As the country becomes richer, not only will it care more about the environment and prioritize more energy efficient technologies, but the economy as a whole will become more service oriented, much like that of the US. Of course, this does not mean that the world will consume fewer goods. It just means that those goods will be produced in a new generation of up and coming developing nations – and those nations would account for the ~30% of the total increased energy use until 2030.One could imagine that, like China today, those countries will want to use the cheapest (and thus potentially the dirtiest) fuels. They might also argue that it would be unfair to impose environmental restrictions on them since they too have a right to grow their economies. Just as China points to Europe and America’s growth and how they were fueled by dirty coal, those countries may point to China along with Europe and America and make the same argument.And from their perspective, they would be right, just as China is “right[...]



Muxtape [Dav-generated Content]

2008-04-04T07:04:00-07:00

Muxtapes are the new Scrabulous. So I made one. davduf.muxtape.com

I love the minimalist, clean, easy, no frills interface. A breath of fresh air in these days of functions-overload, social-everything and ads-everywhere.



Reims Aviation acquiert la société Flying Robots [Techfund.Info]Gregoire

2008-04-03T09:30:14-07:00

Reims, le 2 avril 2008 : Reims Aviation, leader européen de la surveillance aéroportée légère, annonce avoir signé un protocole d’accord pour l’acquisition de la société Flying Robots(image)


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Venture Capital in Emerging Markets Conference, 9 - 10 June 2008, Istanbul, Turkey [Golden Horn Ventures]

2008-03-29T03:09:05-07:00

Golden Horn ventures is organizing a conference in Istanbul, Venture Capital in Emerging Markets. The goal is to bring together fund investors, venture capitalists from all over the world and entrepreneurs and discuss investment strategies, the right and wrong practices...



Novaled opens its first subsidiary in Asia [Techfund.Info]Gregoire

2008-03-19T11:48:56-07:00

Novaled, a major OLED know how and service provider reinforces its presence in the Asian market by opening a Japan Branch office.Effective from 10th March 2008, Novaled set up a Branch Office in the Tokyo area. With this new opening, the company confirms its commitment to the OLED industry in Asia. The Novaled Branch office […](image)


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Le capital-risque « vert » prend son envol en France [Techfund.Info]Gregoire

2008-03-12T14:39:07-07:00

Les technologies du développement durable « cleantech » s’affirment désormais comme l’une des priorités du capital-risque. Aux Etats-Unis, l’engouement pour le capital-risque vert a même provoqué en fin d’année dernière une mise en garde de l’association des investisseurs en capital, la NVCA, inquiète du risque d’une nouvelle bulle. La croissance est en effet très rapide […](image)


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L’avenir très prometteur des énergies vertes [Techfund.Info]Gregoire

2008-03-08T13:22:34-08:00

Emission de France24 évoquant les Cleantech : alors que les industriels américains ont déjà réagi favorablement au secteur des énergies renouvelables, les entreprises européennes se mettent enfin au vert.(image)


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Entrepreneurial support – The conversation series [Sid Mohasseb]

2008-03-02T18:13:28-08:00

So here is something new for interested entrepreneurs.

Venture Farm Institute Web Conference
YOU CHOOSE THE TOPIC & WE PAY FOR IT (IT'S FREE)
First event : March 17,2008 8:30am-9:15 pst

Pick Your Topic & Register

The purpose of the series is to inform and enrich the entrepreneur to understand the Funding Process and focus on Business Execution.

The Conversation series is also a complement to our workshop Series with Rapid Fire <learn more>, a 3hr Live Roundtable of providing early stage companies uncensored feedback, from the investor perspective, as well as a 2-Day Workshop on Effective Entrepreneurship <learn more>.

How to participate?: This series is online. You need a computer with web access.
What is on the Agenda: The selected topic will be discussed. A short Q&A for you and your guests is also scheduled.

Who should participate in the webconference?: Any Entrepreneur who wants to build a great company...and yes that may include raising money!

Hope to see you on line. (image)



Interview de Thierry Lepercq, président de Solaire Direct, sur LCI [Techfund.Info]Gregoire

2008-02-27T11:26:39-08:00

Thierry Lepercq, président de Solaire Direct, est interviewé au sujet de la progression de 200% du marché de l’énergie solaire et photovoltaïque en France.(image)


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Entrepreneurial lesson: Ingredients of a failed presentation [Sid Mohasseb]

2008-02-21T19:34:28-08:00

AND CLUES FOR A SUCCESSFUL PRESENTATION!

In the past couple of weeks I have heard a few pitches and noticed some common ingredients. So in my humble opinion here is what did not work.

1- Selling features and product capabilities as opposed to a vision and a company.
2- Being in love with the idea and failing to see the need for a business model.
3- Getting lost in details and going on tangents.
4- Pretending to know it all.
5- Failing to demonstrate how investors can get a return on their investment.
6- Having a big salary for founders built into the projections.
7- Too much animation (distracting) and too small of fonts (can’t read).
8- Disagreeing partners
9- Asking for too much money or not enough to get to the next milestone - winging it.
10- Offering a pre-cooked deal – We have a private placement memorandum (PPM).(image)






Citilog announces MediaIntruder(TM), its intelligent incident detection software-based solution [Techfund.Info]Gregoire

2008-02-15T09:34:13-08:00

Citilog, a world leading provider of intelligent real time video monitoring and surveillance solutions for traffic, transportation,security and safety management, today announced MediaIntruder(TM), its intelligent incident detection software-based solution, is now available in North America. MediaIntruder automatically detects in real time any indoor or outdoor intrusion activity using video streams from video surveillance cameras.It uses […](image)


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Après les Caisses d’Epargne, Solaire Direct signe un accord avec le Crédit Agricole [Techfund.Info]Gregoire

2008-02-11T11:59:37-08:00

Après la Caisse d’Epargne Provence-Alpes-Corse, l’énergéticien Solaire direct vient de signer un partenariat avec le Crédit Agricole Alpes Provence. Objectif : encourager professionnels, agriculteurs et propriétaires de maisons individuelles à installer des panneaux photovoltaïques chez eux grâce à la mise en place d’un prêt sur-mesure.Installer des panneaux solaires photovoltaïques sans que cela ne pèse sur […](image)


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Entrepreneurial Observation: yet another reason to be agile [Sid Mohasseb]

2008-02-08T17:51:08-08:00

Just came back from the Always On event in NY; over 600 people packed into a couple rooms on the 36th floor of a fancy hotel – I was reminded of the events and conferences during the late 90’s – lot’s of buzz, loads of optimism and discussions of the perfect storm!

This time the typhoon (as Tim draper from DFJ calls it) is centered around the digital media and what it is doing with advertising models incumbent distribution channels, production time frames, schedule, etc.

Lots of acquisitions, big number valuations, bigger venture investments, and all that Jazz ! just like it use to be in late 90’s. Not that I mind it.

Although I do buy the argument that things have changed since the 90’s; including better business models, proven models of monetization, etc. but a typhoon is a typhoon and when it leaves it destroys!

I am advising to all entrepreneurs that agility is now more critical than ever; execute fast, forget about perfection, build a business that can get to stability and sustainability and fast track to exits if you can. (image)



Entrepreneurial Consideration: Managing the ripple affect [Sid Mohasseb]

2008-02-03T22:49:50-08:00

A non academic view of business change & improvementStating the sometimes forgotten obvious:A business is a living entity that embodies many functioning organs. It performs the best and is healthy when all the elements are working together in harmony. The physical components of this living organ includes sales, marketing, IT, logistics, accounting, etc. and its psychology is represented by the core values, cultures, and beliefs. A pain or a dis-functionality in any organ influences the effectiveness of the business entity as a whole – if you are ill mentally or physically you can not be fully productive.An illness maybe addressed by a better diet or some vitamins or a few pills a day for a few weeks (process improvement, overtime, incentives, etc.) or may need more drastic measures such as chemotherapy or surgery (re-organization, firings, new IT systems, a new business model, change of partners, etc.).Almost always, to cure an illness the prescribed actions have some side effects. A change in the sales force compensation plan, influences the accounting daily practices, may require new software, may increase returns and impact the resource needs at the warehouse. An improvement in the resource planning software impacts the practices at both payable and receivable ends, Promote the person who is not competent and deal with your good folks looking for another job, etc. etc. Sometimes we actually create the illness with our actions (cutting our hand with a knife or hiring the wrong person).Stating the not so obvious challenge:So BECAREFUL of what I call “THE RIPPLE EFFECT” – Make a decision about A and watch for the ripples impa[...]



The Dirty Dozen Mistakes of a Startup Entrepreneur [Golden Horn Ventures]

2008-02-01T07:24:03-08:00

Entrepreneurship is hard. Tackling technical and business problems and building a business from the initial idea up, one step at a time is very difficult. Starting from the idea, technology entrepreneurs make certain mistakes that make their lives even more... Entrepreneurship is hard. Tackling technical and business problems and building a business from the initial idea up, one step at a time is very difficult. Starting from the idea, technology entrepreneurs make certain mistakes that make their lives even more difficult. These mistakes can be caused by the entrepreneur fixating on what she is comfortable with - people tend to stay in their comfort zones -, or misconceptions of what is valuable in business or maybe simply being a first time entrepreneur. As investors in early stage technology companies, we keep on seeing similar problems in different companies, which tells us that these are common mistakes, especially in emerging regions. Below is a list of these mistakes which we have seen and which might eventually cause a business to fail or or an opportunity to be missed. It isn't intended to be exhaustive but rather indicative. Some of the mistakes listed are common to the nature of the technology entrepreneur, but some are the results of the state of the sector in emerging countries. Mistake No 1: "We are a framework company and can do it all" The idea of a framework company sounds attractive. Especially, in this region entrepreneurs tend to collect their expertise into a "framework" with no product or application definition. Having a framework that works can be very advantageous. However, th[...]



A few thoughts on last night's Startup Camp [Dav-generated Content]

2008-01-24T06:23:00-08:00

Thanks to Embrase for organizing this. Great crowd. Lots of young entrepreneurs. Awesome. Not enough angels (unless they all kept very quiet and/or are wealthy at a surprisingly young age). Probably just the right number of VCs, although there's a bunch of early-stage investors I would've expected to see there and didn't. (Forget Réseau Capital for a while, guys... your next 10X deal was in the room last night).Format was a bit too strict and people couldn't keep from loudly networking during some of the presentations, which I think is natural and expected. Cool by me. Startups are chaotic, so I can't see why startup events shouldn't be.Sylvain Carle live-blogged Graham Hill's (TreeHugger dude) talk. Check it out, good simple, advice.I've seen two other good posts about last night:Mike LQuebec ValleyQuick thoughts on the presenters (check out their websites):Cozimo: Looks very promising, very user-friendly. Not sure how much value they add to what's out there already (not a space I know very well). If I were them I'd go after very specific market niches, tailor a solution for each of them and focus. If you're a startup and your addressable market is over 1 B $ at Day 1 there's usually a problem.Tungle: I'm totally biased, of course, but I believe these guys are going to be huge. (But 1st they have to LAUNCH, goddammit). One thing's for sure, Google and Mac support has to be early in the roadmap, since they seem to be the calendars of choice for a lot of the evangelists and early adopters out there.Streametrics: Makes a lot of sense. Not sure anyone really understood how[...]



Startup Camp Montreal [Dav-generated Content]

2008-01-21T12:03:00-08:00

Wow, this little "blog" of mine has been pretty quiet lately, eh ?

I consider it worthy of reactivating this page that the 1st Startup Camp to be held in Montreal is happenening this Wednesday evening, at the SAT. Check out the wiki page. It's organized by a handfull of upstanding tech citizens and by the fine folks at Embrase.

It'll be my 1st time at a ___camp event, so I'm excited. There are a very interesting things happening in the Montreal tech startup community right and I know a lot of the main actors of this general goodness are going to be there, as well as a lot of the people that can help make things happen.

I'd like to point out that, as an event Guru (so they say...) I did not vote for my portfolio company... would've been tacky, no ?. Also, by now, I've heard the pitch numerous times and will only be satisfied once everyone I know uses the product.

That said, they still got in.

See you there...



Sales lessons – my souvenir from Mexico [Sid Mohasseb]

2008-01-17T22:42:42-08:00

During the holidays I had a chance to take a short vacation in Cancun Mexico. Upon arrival I quickly was forced to deal with various types of sales people with a diverse range of techniques. And as any good entrepreneur would (or should), I began to pay attention and learn.

Imagine an endless row of stores all selling pretty much the same products, as a sales person how do you have a customer buy from you and not the guy next door? Now imagine you are selling a $20,000+ time share - and so are about a 100 other people in a 100 yard radius - and you have a few minutes while a tourist is walking by to open and no more than a few days to close. How do you do it?

After observing a significant number of data points (and it is not difficult as you can … yes, imagine again), here is some key learning:

  1. Stay observant and you can build a relationship in under a minute - it pays.
  2. Quality is a perception and price is not as important as most sales people think.
  3. You must ask for the order.
  4. It is not about sales pipeline or funnels - it is about real transactions and exchange of payment.
  5. Don’t be afraid to negotiate.
  6. Every sale matters – it is a matter of eating that night.
  7. Dead lines are important in closing
(image)



Things Get Ugly in the World of Wine E-Commerce. Very. [Consuming Ambitions]

2008-01-13T22:16:40-08:00

In the recent past, we've heard grumblings of frustration from management of leading wine e-commerce player Wine.com, over the fact that many wine shops and other merchants were skirting the byzantine laws which govern the distribution and shipment of alcoholic...



Follow-up discussion: more on channels for raising equity [Sid Mohasseb]

2007-12-09T18:21:29-08:00

In follow-up to the Podcast discussion Frank Peters, Dave Berkus and I had a couple of weeks ago (http://www.thefrankpetersshow.com/), a few entrepreneurs wanted to learn a little more about the various channels of raising equity and particularly the characteristics of each channel.Following is a 10,000 foot level, but focused discussion of the various equity sources:Friends & FamilyYour dad, uncle or a rich body – almost always non-strategic, almost always come with confused valuations and even more confuse structures that will be costly to clean-up later, and often the money raised gets to be wasted on experimentation. It is however, the easiest money to raise since they know you and trust you the most. Raising Friends and Family round generally does give the VC’s and the Angles the warm and fuzzy that at least your relatives and friends trust you.Angels (individuals & groups)An individual angles or group of angles that pull together to invest – generally invest as individuals or as an LLC. If you have the right angel or the right lead (if a group) to spearhead the process things go smooth, the right group or person can bring significant focus to the process, the wrong angels can introduce a confused direction, non-professional angels often offer less assistance than you expect or they originally may claim, professional angles go out of their way to help a good entrepreneur. Angles often do not make second round investments, if dealing with a group the process [...]



Entrepreneurial Case Study: A true failure story. [Sid Mohasseb]

2007-11-30T09:54:26-08:00

… and it happens everyday - different people and different businesses.A year and change ago, I was asked to make an investment in a venture – a couple of smart technologist with previous management experience creating a VOIP related company. I knew the entrepreneurs and was absolutely convinced that they are smart and dedicated. The business model, however, did not make sense to me and I did not invest.The company raised around $500K. A few months later, they are looking for money and are considering a change in the business model… and later, a new angel investor with another $500K or so has influenced the team to focus on an originally tangent mobile technology to create a novel consumer application.The new business model and technology was intriguing and reached for my check book! But before signing, met with the two founders and the recent addition to the team, a brilliant new CEO with big telecom and carrier experience.So, I met the team and my check book was quickly back in my pocket. The founders were showing early stages of the “founder disease” – we are in love with what we are building, we know exactly how it should work, if we only need money to scale the product and market it, the company is worth millions and WE will build it into a new giant. In short, I found the team non-coachable and looking only for a check book and not a partner. I also found the new hotshot CEO Was suffering from the “big company syndrome” -- very l[...]



Open Discussion on early stage funding options [Sid Mohasseb]

2007-11-29T14:05:14-08:00

Recently, Dave Berkus, Frank Peters and yours truly participated in a round table style podcast on the the Frank Petes Show -- click here to listen. http://www.thefrankpetersshow.com/

You may find it interesting.

Additionally, Graeme Thickins did a nice summary of the podcast on his blog at: http://graemethickins.typepad.com/graeme_blogs_here/2007/11/raising-startup.html(image)



For Those About to Carve [Consuming Ambitions]

2007-11-21T16:36:26-08:00

Just in the nick of time, my wife came through with a pointer to a very helpful article in the New York Times (registration required) describing an excellent turkey carving technique. She is hoping to save me from the ignominy...



A Trillion is a Thousand Billion? Why Wasn't I Informed of This? [Venture Again]

2007-11-06T22:21:50-08:00

With the title of this post, I am paraphrasing another favorite New Yorker cartoon (again).As I toil away trying to raise a million here or a million there for some great cleantech companies (see the side bar of this blog), PetroChina made its debut on the Shanghai stock market, tripling in value, and becoming the world's first trillion-dollar market cap company.Certainly, PetroChina cannot qualify as a Cleantech company, despite some notable important activities. So this boom is just a reminder of the importance traditional energy continues to play in our global economy, and the extent to which demand for it is now driven by China and other developing nations.I guess investors were not concerned by the strong non-market forces which affect the stock price. Chinese regulators just announced a delay in the expected lowering of restrictions on capital flows from mainland investors. These restrictions have driven an unsustainable difference between the Shanghai-listed shares and Hong Kong-listed shares of several comapnies.Also (coincidentally?), Chinese regulators raised the mandated price of retail gasoline last Friday by 10%. These higher prices substantially aid PetroChina's financials, since they buy crude on the world's open market, but sell refined gasoline into a price-controlled market in China.With all these non-market influences, it is difficult to see how t[...]