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Year: 2014

Why is Yo worth so much?

Why is Yo worth so much?

Good morning, All,

In case you’ve been on a desert island or in a coma, welcome back, and yes, an app called Yo that was developed in half an hour or so, raised $1 million. Oh, wait, that was last week’s news and update – make that $1.5 million. We know what you’re thinking:

Y? Read More...

Breakfast-with-an-Angel-July

Breakfast-with-an-Angel-July

Good morning, All,

First, our next Breakfast with an Angel is tomorrow morning. You can register here. . Tech is an industry that loves its catch phrases and paradigms of the day. “We’re disrupting (INSERT VERTICAL HERE)” or “We’re the Airbnb/Uber of (INSERT VERTICAL HERE).” All well and good, but and like it or not, Airbnb and Uber quietly changed something. They did more than just herald what we’re now misnaming the sharing economy. It’s more than that: they disrupted, they fixed, they make money, and they empower people. Which was always the promise of tech. They raised the bar. And they wrote the blueprint for the possibilities of tech. They built a better mousetrap.

Uber didn’t really disrupt taxis. It disrupted car services – that’s the model, if you think about it. But they built a better mousetrap, and by extension, and disrupted taxis all over the world. Mistakes were made – and addressed. UberX rocks our world. Read More...

billionaire investors ,so-called business leaders

billionaire investors ,so-called business leaders

Good morning, All,

Simple math. Let’s give basic post pubescents millions – if not billion – of dollars, fawning accolades in the press, not to mention from billionaire investors and so-called business leaders. You think all of this might go to their heads and they might get the idea that they’re not only bullet-proof, but endowed with powers beyond those of mere mortals and –shudder – above the law? They may get older, but they don’t seem to outgrow it.

First, we had the reports of Facebook manipulating a small percentage of its users for data collection. ‘Small’ for Facebook is nearly 700,000 people. Not much less than the population of Alaska. The story has changed a few times
– has been altered/updated, but it’s pretty much FB standard practice to act first, offer a weak apology later. (Facebook COO tells users she deliberately tried to upset: “We never meant to upset you”. For the record, ‘she’ is that arbiter of appropriate behavior – Sheryl ‘Lean In’ Sandberg). Read More...

set TV innovation back a decade

set TV innovation back a decade

Good morning, All,

Two things happened last week to which attention must be paid. Aereo lost their right to exist, because, well, that’s the way court wanted it, since they pretty much ignored the facts and made their decision based on, that’s the way they wanted it. Aereo offered an “alternative to the bundle” that consumers are forced to accept from cable providers. (Why the Supreme Court just set TV innovation back a decade. The Supreme Court’s decision to kill Aereo was bad from a legal point of view — and downright horrible from a policy and innovation perspective.) The company ceased providing access to broadcast television as of this past Saturday. We’re reminded of Napster, which was also shut down by the courts in the Web 1.0 days and note to self and heads up to the broadcasters: even with napster gone, the music labels still failed to seize technology, thinking that it would just go away and leave them alone, and that given the court’s decision, it was game over and life as usual. Didn’t happen. Au contraire.

Google also held their i/o developer conference this past week, and here’s Everything You Need to Know. We’ll bottom line it: Android is “becoming contextually aware, flowing from place to place with you, and taking advantage of any input you throw at it—be it your voice aimed at a device on your wrist, a button on your steering wheel, your mouse on your laptop, or a gaming control on your TV.” They’re taking over your home, your car – they’re already at the office – and all sorts of other devices you may own now, or in the near future. (Does Nest remind anyone else of HAL – and just waiting for that little red eyeball to be enabled…) Let’s not forget what Google Everywhere really means. The cloud part of the announcement was interrupted by a protestor who chanted “wake the fuck up, you’re all working for a totalitarian company that builds robots that kill people.” Our question is: with Google in every aspect of our lives and waking moments, how are they different from the NSA, except that we opt in? Knowingly and completely? Read More...

like Larry and Sergei or Mark Zuckerberg, or even Jeff Bezos

like Larry and Sergei or Mark Zuckerberg, or even Jeff Bezos

Good morning, All,

If technology had a mantra, it would be that you’re only as good as your last innovation. Now, imagine being a so-called tech wunderkind or leader, like Larry and Sergei or Mark Zuckerberg, or even Jeff Bezos, and being under that kind of pressure.

Hot off the presses: Facebook released Slingshot (yeah, well, it seems that Snapchat acquisition didn’t quite work out) and Amazon released Fire, their long-expected entré into the smartphone market that’s not likely to ignite any mass exoduses from the Apple platform. Kindle was something of a game changer. Fire? Not so much. Not yet, anyway. No YouTube on the phone? We’re sure that no one is taking that as being a glaring omission on Bezos’s part. Pay attention and eyes right. More to come, you can count on it. Bezos wants to be a media mogul – he already owns the WaPost - and tech always demands more, more, more. Read More...

Joel Edwin Segall, Economist and President of Baruch College, Dies at 80

Joel Edwin Segall, Economist and President of Baruch College, Dies at 80

Good morning,

All, Or so contended economist Dr. Joel Segall. We understand. Uber recently raised $1.2B, which put the company value at $18.2B – making it worth more than Hertz and Avis, combined. Uber is an app. The company owns no cars. Their ‘drivers’ get no employee benefits, since they are not employees, nor does Uber cover their insurance, liability or otherwise. Taxi drivers all over the world have been protesting the arrival of ride sharing services like Uber.

Uber isn’t truly creating massive numbers of jobs- but it is creating income for people who need it. And jeopardizing the livelihoods of many others. On the other hand, there are a finite amount of cabs on the street in NYC, and they all change shifts at the same time – right around rush hour, for the record. A license costs about $250k, and then there’s the cab itself, which costs $800k+. What’s wrong with this picture? Read More...

proliferation of co-working spaces

proliferation of co-working spaces

Good morning, All,

You might have noticed that there seems to have been a proliferation of co-working spaces, especially in New York. Co-working spaces are the new black. Both General Assembly (which is no longer a co-working space, but that’s where they started) and AlleyNYC have investments from VCs. Which doesn’t mean that they’re going to invest in you or in your company, and not all co-working spaces are the same, so choose wisely if/when you decide to take up residence in one and some things to consider:

1. Most spaces allow you to work out of the space for a day as a try out. Take advantage of the opportunity. Read More...

The Complete Guide to Coworking in NYC

The Complete Guide to Coworking in NYC

Good morning, All,

Google Glass. Google drones. Google WiFi. Android TV. Now Google cars, which are being touted as cute, cuddly things that could change transportation forever. No steering wheel. No gas pedal. No brakes. No driver. No owner, other than Google. It basically sounds like public transportation, reimagined. Just get in and it’ll take you from Point A to Point B. We do realize that it’s a prototype, but no brakes? What happens when someone in front of you stops suddenly? Or a kid suddenly runs out into the street after a ball? Oops. But it’s like Google Glass: a shiny new thing dangled in front of you, that you’re not likely to get any time soon, (in the case of Google Glass) what, with its $1500 price tag, no matter that they cost $80 in materials to produce. Google Glass is a limited application technology at best, and despite the fact that Google doles them out slowly, making them only periodically available, making them a precious commodity. In the meantime, you don’t notice any bidding wars on ebay, do you? There’s your yardstick.

We do understand that it's early days for driverless cars, but has Google lost it's mojo? Where is Google TV? Read More...

Vinod Khosla: Doctors cannot compete with machines

Vinod Khosla: Doctors cannot compete with machines

Good morning, All,

We nearly entitled today’s newsletter, ‘Is Silicon Valley Making Itself Irrelevant?’ but benefit of the doubt to the population out there at large.

Doctors cannot compete with machines,” contends Silicon Valley uber investor Vinod Khosla. He’s talking Big Data. Medicine may not be an exact science, and it certainly has its problems, most notably, the pharmaceutical industry and that’s as far as we’re going down that rabbit hole today. But technology is not as sophisticated as it needs to be for us to allow ourselves to be diagonsed by Big Data. Nor is it secure enough - nor can we trust Big Government. It’s a dangerous road to take, given the number of hacks we see, even in something as simple as online transaction, and what if this happened in the health care system? Not if, when. Ever deal with an automated help line, even when a simple mistake was made? Imagine if your health data is compromised. One word: heatbleed. Equally importantly, who’s then in charge? The titans of Silicon Valley? We are unfortunately personally plagued with both a science background and an excellent memory. One of Mr. Khosla’s investments was in a company called Unreal Candy, a ‘healthy’ version of confections. They may be 100% ‘real,’ but healthy – far from it. And we defy you to find nutritional information or nutritional comparisons to their so-called unhealthy competition on their site. They also claim to be low glycemic yet their products contain cane sugar, too, which is not low glycemic – and there’s still no such thing as being a little bit pregnant. Bill Gates endorses the brand, but then, he’s an investor. And is as clueless about food science as is Khosla. Read More...

from New York Tech Day to the DLD Conference to TechCrunch Disrupt

from New York Tech Day to the DLD Conference to TechCrunch Disrupt

Good morning, All,

That was MSFT Explorer’s tag line, for those of us who remember the days before Safari and Bing.

It’s Internet Week in New York and we’ve attended a number of conferences lately, from New York Tech Day to the DLD Conference to TechCrunch Disrupt, all varying in price from free to expensive. Not just to attend, but to exhibit as well, and while NYTech Day was a lot more affordable to exhibit (it’s startups who are exhibiting, most bootstrapped) and free to attend, the question is: is it worth it? Did you get value from it? Read More...

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