Browsed by
Year: 2015

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...

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...

Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace

Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace

Good morning, All,

Amazon has certainly come under fire lately, thanks in no small part to the New York Times piece describing the brutal workplace and environment the company seems to have fostered (Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace The company is conducting an experiment in how far it can push white-collar workers to get them to achieve its ever-expanding ambitions.) Stories have come out on both sides of the issue (An Amazonian's response to "Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace"; Dear Jeff Bezos: My husband needed therapy after working for Amazon).

What we find interesting is the timing of the Times piece, in light of the infusions of cash that other media outlets have enjoyed of late, (Comcast’s NBCUniversal Agrees to Invest $200 Million in BuzzFeed), what to speak of Bezos’s own investments in both the Washington Post and Business Insider, neither of whom covered or responded to the NYT’s piece, which seemingly everyone commented on, including Mark Suster in his blog: What to Make of Amazon’s Work Practices? The New York Times received no outside investment. Then again, things are not always so black and white with the Grey Lady. Read More...

Remarks to the Commonwealth Club

Remarks to the Commonwealth Club

Good morning, All,

Apologies if your’e receiving this twice this week. Mailchimp seems to have had a glitch and we’ve heard from a number of you that you hadn’t received the newsletter today.

Said Michael Crichton back in September of 2005 in his remarks to the Commonwealth Club, “I have been asked to talk about what I consider the most important challenge facing mankind, and I have a fundamental answer. The greatest challenge facing mankind is the challenge of distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda. Perceiving the truth has always been a challenge to mankind, but in the information age (or as I think of it, the disinformation age) it takes on a special urgency and importance.” Read More...

Funding To Food Tech Startups Reaches New Peak

Funding To Food Tech Startups Reaches New Peak

Good morning, All,

We took a food handling safety class – as is required by law in New York, in order to work in the food business, and we are preparing to launch Sweet Freedom (coming soon). While the class was both informative and enlightening, in light of the bigger picture – what’s happening with our food supply/food itself, and various companies’ attempts to disrupt food – that was two plus days of our life that we’ll never get back again.

California, that part of the world that has attempted to reinvent or disrupt everything from ride-hailing (Uber and Here Are the Internal Documents that Prove Uber Is a Money Loser) to house cleaning (Homejoy) has spent quite a bit of time and money of late taking aim at food itself (Funding To Food Tech Startups Reaches New Peak – someone please fund another food delivery service soon!). Between Soylent, described in Crunchbase as having been developed “from a need for a simpler food source. Creator Robert Rhinehart and team developed Soylent after recognizing the disproportionate amount of time and money they spent creating nutritionally complete meals.” Just add water and voila: $22.3 Million from investors, mostly to disrupt programmers from having to take time away from their work to forage for food/feed themselves. As Soylent investor Chris Dixon also pointed out, it only costs about $10/day for the regimen. Part of the reason for having developed Soylent was to help feed the Third World, where food is sparser and note to self and Silicon Valley investors who might not be aware of how the lower 99% lives: $10/day per person for food is First World pricing. Read More...

500 Startups

500 Startups

Good morning, All,

Ok, it’s not, but anyone who knows Dave McClure (500 Startups) and/or has heard him speak, knows that he will invoke the ‘f’’ word at least a dozen times into any given three minutes of conversation. His TV show, Bazillion Dollar Club, (with Brady Forrest, who runs the Highway 1 hardware accelerator) premieres on Scyfy next month, and here’s a preview. Dave is nothing if not strongly opinionated, and he recently posted a series of tweets aimed at startup investors. While we rarely do this, they were too good for us not to share, and founders, there are takeaways here for you, too:

1/ Dear Startup Investors: STOP PARTICIPATING IN BUSINESS PLAN COMPETITIONS. You are propping up a HORRIBLE practice in the industry. Read More...

Apple shares plummet after lower than expected iPhone sales

Apple shares plummet after lower than expected iPhone sales

Good morning, All,

Earning were reported last week, which made it an odd week for Apple, which reported a 35% increase in iPhone sales over last year, but the sales were well under the expected numbers. Still, Apple shares plummet(ed) after lower than expected iPhone sales. But remember: stock prices are based on predicted future earnings, and iPhones sales are expected to ‘go even softer:’ no new versions of the iPhone are going to be released in the near future.

According to the article, the iPhone did draw a number of ‘switcher’ – people who crossed over from other platforms - and Mac sales were up (iOS device sales outpace Windows PC sales for first time). Hard numbers on Watch sales were not released, although according to Apple CEO Tim Cook, June sales surpassed the sales of the previous two month, whatever that means in hard numbers, but ok. And while the press has pretty much bashed Apple’s latest platform, primarily non-tech consumers don’t necessarily agree: Apple Watch Satisfaction. It seems that the farther removed you are from the tech industry, the more you like the watch. For more user feedback, check out wristly. Read More...

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial
%d bloggers like this: