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Month: September 2015

We’ve Got This Whole Unicorn Thing All Wrong!

We’ve Got This Whole Unicorn Thing All Wrong!

Good morning, All,

Tim O’Reilly wrote an excellent column recently entitled, We’ve Got This Whole Unicorn Thing All Wrong! With all due respect to Cowboy Ventures’ Aileen Lee, who first referred to emerging companies with billion dollar valuations, such as Uber and Airbnb, as unicorns, with the ever-expanding roster of them of late, we personally have to agree with O’Reilly in his revised definition – as technologies that changes human behavior – rather than as companies that have achieved a wildly inflated valuation that may or may not have any actual justification in the real world. The mark of a true unicorn, in O’Reilly’s definition, is that elicits an a-ha moment: the first iPhones, Siri and self-driving cars are good examples. Unicorns are things that changed human behavior, and for the record, O’Reilly includes Uber/Lyft in this category, as they did accomplish this: people were suddenly summoning cars via an app.

The outliers aren’t always readily apparent – Yahoo! was thought to be wildly overvalued when it IPO’d: no revenue model, and the same was said of Facebook – and the currently-accepted unicorns aren’t always necessarily that: Dropbox is certainly having its problems these days (The case against Dropbox looks stronger with each passing day) and “Steve Jobs famously told Houston (while trying to acquire it) that his company was a feature and not a product. As Dropbox rocketed to 400 million users, Jobs’ viewpoint was easy to dismiss. But as its rivals caught up, and Dropbox began casting about for its next act, Jobs has come to look more prescient.” Read More...

Who Really Owns Your iPhone? It May Not Be You

Who Really Owns Your iPhone? It May Not Be You

Good morning, All,

Once upon a time there was this thing called ‘sales,’ which were dependent on these people called ‘customers,’ who are now primarily referred to online as ‘users’ - unless it’s an ecommerce site - and once upon a time, customers mattered. It’s only in tech that people who use a product or service are referred to as ‘users’ rather than ‘customers,’ which started us all down a slippery slope. In our opinion, we’re still on the downward slide and do not look forward to seeing what rock bottom looks like. For example, Who Really Owns Your iPhone? It May Not Be You. According to the piece, and depending on your plan, you may not own that new iPhone 6S, for which you might have paid a hefty price: it might actually be the property of Apple or your wireless carrier. Could you imagine if utilities treated customers this way? That you had to buy a new oven every few years – or have your house/apartment rewired, as the utility company upgraded and no longer supported the infrastructure you need? If Con Ed suddenly held that kind of sway over our stove, hey, we’d personally leave it to them to clean it, too.

“But Apple goes a step further,” the article continues. “Even if you pay full price for your iPhone upfront, Apple still asserts an extraordinary amount of control. It alone decides what apps can be distributed through the App Store, which is the only authorized way everyday customers can add third-party software to an iPhone or any of Apple’s other mobile devices.” Read More...

Mark Zuckerberg: Immigrants are the key to a knowledge economy

Mark Zuckerberg: Immigrants are the key to a knowledge economy

Good morning, All,

A couple of years back, a group of so-called tech luminaries from such companies as Facebook, Google, et al, got together and formed a group called fwd.us, purportedly designed to promote policies to keep the American workforce competitive and to create an easier pathway for foreign workers to enter the US job market.

In fact, “Zuckerberg published an op-ed in the Washington Post describing the group’s mission ‘to build the knowledge economy the US needs to ensure more jobs, innovation and investment.'” The result: well, for one, there’s this – California: Hundreds of American IT Workers Are Replaced by Foreigners using H-1b Visas and Southern California Edison IT workers ‘beyond furious’ over H-1B replacements. Says the article and one of the workers who was being replaced, “The H-1B program was supposed to be for projects and jobs that American workers could not fill. But we’re doing our job. It’s not like they are bringing in these guys for new positions that nobody can fill.” Read More...

Apple’s Tim Cook: “We Believe the Future of TV Is Apps

Apple’s Tim Cook: “We Believe the Future of TV Is Apps

Good morning, All,

Apple hasn’t had an easy time of it lately. It's still the world's most valuable company, but the stock hasn’t been what it was, and is still below $120. Which might account for all of the announcements at its event last week: they need sales. Even at the expense of true Apple innovation:

Apple TV: “We believe the future of TV is apps,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook. Well, Roku obviously agrees: they already have thousands of them. As for making the new Apple TV voice-enabled: see ‘Amazon Fire TV.’ No Apple Internet TV service yet. But after the recent launch of its music service, they’d better get it right with this one (Apple Music is a mess, and it's alienating the company's biggest fans). Read More...

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