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An Archive of the SOS Email Lists.

The Birth of the User-Owned Economy

The Birth of the User-Owned Economy

This past week was Blockchain Week in New York, in tandem with back peddling on the part of the tech cartel. As Quartz noted, “Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, long under fire for “programming people’s brains,” will testify before the European parliament about his company’s use of data. Not long after, transformative new European privacy rules go into effect that will give EU consumers far more visibility into what companies know about them.

“Now, tech CEOs insist they want to be part of the solution. On Tuesday, Facebook-owned Instagram confirmed a feature that will let users track their time spent on the platform. A week earlier, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced a Digital Wellbeing initiative geared at helping people moderate their use of Google’s products and services by suggesting breaks from YouTube or batching notifications.” Read More...

Rock, Paper, Scissors: Defining the Tech Cartel

Rock, Paper, Scissors: Defining the Tech Cartel

Facebook defines itself as a tech company. Google does as well. Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon as well as the Washington Post, defines the latter as a tech company, too, which, technically, means that the once venerated news organization, by definition, should no longer be considered a news publication of record, and thanks for playing.

Can’t have it both ways,

but definitions seem to be somewhat fluid in the tech world. All depends on which way the winds are blowing. Read More...

Common Mistakes Startups Make – And Knock It Off!

Common Mistakes Startups Make – And Knock It Off!

At one of our recent investor breakfasts, Howard Morgan, founding partner of First Round Capital and Chairman of B Capital, offered up the six P’s he looks at when evaluating a company: people, product, plans, profits, passion, and persistence, with ‘product’ including knowing your market, and ‘plans’ meaning financial planning. We’re going to add a seventh P, since Howard also believes that one of the most frequent startup mistakes is coming up with the wrong Pricing, whether it’s too high or too low.

Then there are the much more basics mistakes that startups make/common misconceptions that founders or the team have, which we feel contribute greatly to the fact that nine out of 10 startups fail. Remember: Anyone can start a company. Not everyone can build a business. These might be a few of the contributing factors that can make all the difference:

1. You don’t need to hire a writer. Anyone can write. Not really, but we’ll play. It’s not simply about writing – it’s about communicating. Effectively. Because founders believe that anyone can write, that skill is devalued. The concept needs to be rethought. Try this: you pay your tech developers, right? The writer is developing the concepts that will effectively get your message to your prospective audience/customers.  Think of it as a front-end coding skill. Anyone can learn to code. Not everyone can code well. Content writers are front-end developers who use a specialized coding language. Words instead of zeros and ones and symbols, etc. And remember: the first thing your customers see are the words, not the code. And glad we’ve finally clarified that one! Pay your writers! Read More...

And the Most Underreported Story of the Week Award Goes To…

And the Most Underreported Story of the Week Award Goes To…

…Changes to Terms of Service. You might have noticed those notifications popping up all over when you open certain sites, et al: Oath/AOL/Yahoo, Twitter, Periscope (“On May 25 we’re updating our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. You can see our updated Terms here”). The list goes on. And Yes, The GDPR Will Affect Your U.S.-Based Business.

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation go into effect next month

No such thing as a coincidence. We wondered why the tech press didn’t take notice.

Reads the Updates to Periscope’s Terms of Service and Privacy Policy: “We believe you should always know what data we collect from you and how we use it, and that you should have meaningful control over both. As part of our ongoing commitment to transparency, and in preparation for the new EU data protection laws that take effect next month, we’re updating Periscope’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Service and consolidating them into Twitter’s. We want to empower you to make the best decisions about the information that you share with us… Read More...

Technology and the Bloodless Coup

Technology and the Bloodless Coup

Just two weeks ago, Mark Zuckerberg said that he would not oppose regulation while testifying before a Congressional committee. Last week, knowing that GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) was about to be implemented in the EU, Facebook to put 1.5 billion users out of reach of new EU privacy law, Reuters reports. “If a new European law restricting what companies can do with people’s online data went into effect tomorrow, almost 1.9 billion Facebook Inc users around the world would be protected by it. The online social network is making changes that ensure the number will be much smaller…That removes a huge potential liability for Facebook, as the new EU law allows for fines of up to 4 percent of global annual revenue for infractions, which in Facebook’s case could mean billions of dollars.”

Facebook has no intention of respecting anyone’s privacy.

Never did. Read More...

The All Mark, All the Time Edition

The All Mark, All the Time Edition

Mark Zuckerberg got his hair cut, put on his big boy suit and best cherub-in-the-headlights expression and faced Congress, insisting, ad nauseam, lest the American public didn’t hear it the first several times, that “For most of our existence, we focused on all the good that connecting people can do… It’s clear now that we didn’t do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm, as well.”

Meanwhile, this just in: Facebook is using AI to predict users’ future behavior and selling that data to advertisers, according to the MIT Technology Review.

Then again, he wasn’t under oath. Read More...

The Facebook Takedown and the Underlying Agenda

The Facebook Takedown and the Underlying Agenda

Wonder why Facebook is suddenly under attack from all quarters, given that the user information collected by Cambridge Analytica occurred well over a year ago, and that this was far from the first time Facebook had breached user confidentiality (although if you read the TOS, all your data belongs to Facebook, anyway)? Apple CEO Tim Cook, Salesforce founder Marc Benioff, et al are all happily throwing Facebook/Mark Zuckerberg under the bus, so you might start wondering about the timing of all of this. And what you’re being distracted from otherwise noticing.

As Forbes says, Why Are We Just Finding Out Now That All Two Billion Facebook Users May Have Been Harvested? “The company acknowledged what (this article’s author) said many times before – likely the entirety of Facebook’s two billion public profiles (and quite a few private profiles) are archived in repositories all over the world by academics, companies and criminal actors, not to mention countless governments. The big story was not Facebook’s confirmation of this, but rather why the company took until (April 4, 2018) to confirm it.”

The Net Neutrality Factor

The tech cartel have been quietly attempting to reverse Net Neutrality, which, as we’ve said before and have written about and clarified in a past column, basically exempt the cartel/social media companies from being neutral and treating all content equally, via a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution. Read More...

Mark Zuckerberg and the Apology Algorithm

Mark Zuckerberg and the Apology Algorithm

It took Mark Zuckerberg a few days before issuing an apology over the Cambridge Analytica hack. Odd, considering how much practice he has had over the years:

2007: Zuckerberg Saves Face, Apologizes For Beacon. To refresh your memory, Beacon was an intrusive, controversial ad system that compromised consumer privacy. “We’ve made a lot of mistakes building this feature, but we’ve made even more with how we’ve handled them. We simply did a bad job with this release, and I apologize for it,” Zuckerberg wrote. “Instead of acting quickly, we took too long to decide on the right solution. I’m not proud of the way we’ve handled this situation and I know we can do better.” Oops, sorry. And nothing more to see here. As TechCrunch noted, (Zuckerberg) “also announced a new privacy control that lets Facebook members opt out of Beacon completely. Before, you had to opt out on a case-by-case and site-by-site basis… Maybe Zuckerberg is finally beginning to realize that he does not have permission to track his customers indiscriminately across the Web. Nobody does anymore.” Read More...

The Theranos Effect: The Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered Edition

The Theranos Effect: The Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered Edition

This past week, Theranos founder and Steve Jobs wannabe Elizabeth Holmes was charged with “massive fraud” by the Securities and Exchange Commission. She agreed to pay a $500,000 penalty, be barred from serving as an officer or director of a public company for 10 years, and returned 18.9 million shares she amassed during the alleged fraud.

The company, which raised more than $700M in funding, was “deceiving investors by making it appear as if Theranos had successfully developed a commercially-ready portable blood analyzer” that could perform a full range of laboratory tests from a small sample of blood…But in reality, we allege that after years of development, Theranos was able to process just a small number of blood tests upon its proprietary analyzer, and instead conducted the vast majority of its patients’ tests on modified commercial analyzers that were manufactured by others,” Steven Peikin, the SEC’s co-director of enforcement, told reporters, according to USA Today. Read More...

No is an Acronym

No is an Acronym

Investors hate to say no. They like to hedge their bets and keep their options open. But they will sometimes give you a hard and fast No. Still, that said, things change, so one never knows if it truly is a hard No.

For example, take Avner Ronan, founder of Boxee, a cross-platform freeware media center with social networking features that eventually spun out the Boxee Box. Et al, but more on that later. When he was going for funding, Ronen decided that Fred Wilson would be the perfect investor for Boxee, so he targeted Fred and did get the meeting, but Wilson said No. Undeterred, Ronen continued to send Wilson monthly update on their pivots and progress. The answer continued to come back as No. This went on for 18 months, until there came that one update that changed everything. Finally, Fred said ‘Yes!’ Read More...

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