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Month: October 2015

The Just Because You’re Paranoid Edition

The Just Because You’re Paranoid Edition

It’s comforting to envision a tech utopia, where our homes know our wants/needs; where our cars are self-driving and hot meals show up on our doorstep. Startup L Jackson referred to the on-demand economy as assisted living for the young, and no, this is not about Millenial bashing. This is a wake-up call.

In case you missed it: US Senate passes CISA, a very bad spying bill dressed up as a cybersecurity bill. We understand that it’s not law yet, that it has yet to pass the House, and for the record, the president is very much in favor of the bill.

According to an article in Wired: ‘…privacy advocates and civil liberties groups see CISA as a free pass that allows companies to monitor users and share their information with the government without a warrant, while offering a backdoor that circumvents any laws that might protect users’ privacy. “The incentive and the framework it creates is for companies to quickly and massively collect user information and ship it to the government,” says Mark Jaycox, a legislative analyst for the civil liberties group the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “As soon as you do, you obtain broad immunity, even if you’ve violated privacy law.”’ Read More...

At the Crossroads and In the Cross Hairs

At the Crossroads and In the Cross Hairs

Once upon a time, you could buy this device called a television, plug the power cord into the wall, hook it up to the antenna, turn it on, and entertainment appeared. It offered a variety of content, across channels. Oh, and there were commercials. That’s how broadcasters/content providers made money. It was referred to as a ‘revenue model.’ It worked well for a very long time.

Then cable TV came in, for which you paid a monthly fee, but at least there were no commercials, at first, but that didn’t last long. Suddenly, you were paying for cable and being subjected to commercials.  Some of us were being charged nearly $200/month for the privilege of being shown commercials. And you wonder why people started untethering en masse and turned to services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, et al.

Now we’ve entered a new age of tech and online shopping/search/social and it’s all about Big Data. People are being tracked, scrutinized, targeted, marketed and advertised to – and discovering that all is not fair and equal in the online world, when it comes to pricing. Try ordering an airline ticket. Come back an hour later, and the price has gone up. Try it! Read More...

Airbnb’s first pitch deck

Airbnb’s first pitch deck

Airbnb's first pitch deck has been circulating of late, and while it's a great lesson in how to put together a deck and launch not only a company, but a viable business (Lessons From Airbnb's Investor Pitch Deck), remember - seven investors passed on it. Quelle dommage and for the record, we first heard about the company not long after it launched, when an early adopter frequent-traveler British friend put it on our radar. We thought it was a no-brainer (only couchsurfing had been around before that, which might have been their closest competitor, but that company had no revenue model. There's a non-starter for you).

The Trouble with Tribbles

The Trouble with Tribbles

Good morning, All,

In case you missed the reference (doubt it), the subject line was the title of an episode from the original Star Trek series, about adorable, harmless little creatures called tribbles who procreated ad nauseam and gorged themselves to death – without giving away too much of the episode.

And we do see a parallel in tech, where the unicorns are starting to fall by the wayside, and there’s even more trouble brewing in River City.  Taking the view from a thousand feet, it seems to us that tech is at a strange crossroads and the rush to market we’ve all come to take as necessary for growth/staying front of mind – even at the expense of the customer – is taking its toll on the unicorn population (Evernote, the bug-ridden elephant).  Here’s The inside story of how $1 billion Evernote went from Silicon Valley darling to deep trouble, and again, it’s to do with the rush-to-market fevered pitch from which tech suffers, even if it means releasing buggy code or code that exposes customers to vulnerabilities (New Android vulnerabilities put over a billion devices at risk of remote hacking). Google aside, this is what happens when you chase valuations over profits or sustainable products. The center will not hold. In Google’s case, they chase newer/faster/’better’ over customer privacy/safety, and that’s no more than the story told differently. Read More...

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