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Month: October 2016

The Internet of Things and the Great Disconnect

The Internet of Things and the Great Disconnect

It’s been over a year since we sounded the alarm on the lack of security on the Internet of Things, and in fact, we first mentioned it when it was back in its extremely nascent stage. While it is arguably still early days, we now have connected toasters, home alarm systems, refrigerators – and heaven forfend we should be out grocery shopping and can’t ping our refrigerator to tell us which staples we need to replenish.

We have a digital native friend who is always trying to get us to download some app or other, every time we see him. We rarely comply – primarily because it seems to be the latest iteration of something we already use, and the differentiators are not great enough to convince us that the app/company are necessarily going to be around in the next few months. He’s a young entrepreneur, who is also big on having connected devices all over the home, to make his life as easy and as remotely controllable as possible.

And therein lies the rub. Read More...

Yahoo, Twitter and Inside Baseball

Yahoo, Twitter and Inside Baseball

We came across this piece that we just had to share: I’m Done Pretending SF Tech Is Visionary Welcome to Silicon Valley. We’re smart enough to solve real problems, but we don’t. Again, it reminded us of Startup L. Jackson’s reference to Silicon Valley as assisted living for the young, and truth be told, we now have pause to consider if those visionaries are true visionaries, considering that a number of the so-called visionaries have been having quite a few problems lately. For example, no one seems to want to buy Twitter, despite the fact that visionary CEO Jack Dorsey is back at the helm.

To wit,  “It’s been a banner year for corporate scandals in Silicon Valley and beyond,” writes General Catalyst Managing Director Phil Libin, (Rate company scandals with this handy five-point system.) “but until today there hasn’t been a crisp way to categorize them. Are all scandals the same? Hardly! When you’re experiencing these problems from inside a company, everything feels like the end of the world. Sometimes it’s not. For your convenience, and to put things in perspective, I hereby present my five-point scale for company scandals.” Of course, Theranos and Zenefits come to mind, and let’s not forget Yahoo! and Marissa Mayer’s failure to tell users – for two years – that their information had been compromised. Half a billion of them, to be a bit more exact, but when there’s money on the table, ah, details. Or maybe not, considering the fact that Verizon walked – so far – on the acquisition.

What should Twitter do to survive and thrive? For one, visionary Dorsey might want to try showing some vision. Twitter, you’re a publishing platform. So, why aren’t you a publisher? You might also want to consider rethinking the censorship of writers and articles that aren’t lockstep with the Silicon Valley talking points, or you will lose part of your audience, which is already happening (How a GIF of Aly Raisman’s Floor Routine Got Me Permanently Banned From Twitter Update: After this story picked up enough steam, my permanent Twitter suspension was coincidentally lifted. Funny how that works) “It’s disappointing that Twitter will throw users under the bus to do it by permanently banning the very users that built Twitter into the vibrant community it is today,” writes Jim Weber. “It’s even more frustrating that I didn’t have a single human interaction but was delivered form letters determining my fate — likely sent from somewhere halfway around the world… Not only do I not plan to start a new Twitter account, I’m hesitant to post anything to social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat with the knowledge that they can and will permanently shut down your account with the snap of their fingers. As idealistic as social media platforms make themselves sound, at the end of the day, they’re just like every other business: They only thing they have to answer to is money.” Read More...

Just When You Thought It Was Game Over, Oh, Snap!

Just When You Thought It Was Game Over, Oh, Snap!

It wasn’t all that long ago that so-called ephemeral messaging app Snap (nee SnapChat and SnapChat is less private than you think, as we know) hit the zeitgeist, and quickly seized a sizeable share of one-time Facebook users – especially the younger ones. Now, as Business Insider notes, Snap is working on an IPO for March that would value the company at $25 billion, and “…as part of Snap’s evolution, it’s become an increasing threat to Facebook and Instagram in terms of both attracting younger users and chasing ad dollars. A Nielsen study from September 2015 showed that the company was reaching 41% of all 18- to 34-year-olds.

“That number is likely higher now. A recent eMarketer study said that Snapchat will have reached 58.6 million people in the US, or 31.6% of social media users, by the end of 2016.”

And to think that founder Evan Speigel was considered non compos mentis for having turned down a $3B offer from Facebook just a few short years ago, although as we ourselves reported back in 2013, “right or wrong, Snapchat skated to where the puck is going.” Read More...

Trust, Transparency and Totalitarianism

Trust, Transparency and Totalitarianism

Don’t look at us: Mark Zuckerberg started it.

Last week, The Guardian published a piece entitled Facebook and Google: most powerful and secretive empires we’ve ever known, and, considering the power and reach of the platforms, they’re not merely tech companies: more accurately, they are perhaps two of the most powerful nation-states in the world at the moment and given how ubiquitous they are in our lives, they arguably wield more power/have a larger reach than any corporation or government that the world has seen, to date. As Ellen P. Goodman and Julia Powles state in the piece, “We call them platforms, networks or gatekeepers. But these labels hardly fit. The appropriate metaphor eludes us; even if we describe them as vast empires, they are unlike any we’ve ever known. Far from being discrete points of departure, merely supporting the action or minding the gates, they have become something much more significant. They have become the medium through which we experience and understand the world.

“As their users, we are like the blinkered young fish in the parable memorably retold by David Foster Wallace. When asked, “How’s the water?” we swipe blank: “What the hell is water?” Read More...

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