Simple is Elegant

Simple is Elegant

When Albert Einstein met Charlie Chaplin, Einstein said, “What I most admire about your art, is your universality. You don’t say a word, yet the world understands you!”

“It’s true,” Chaplin replied. “But your glory is even greater! The whole world admires you, even though they don’t understand a word of what you say.” Read More...

Control and Censorship: What Has Big Tech Become?

Control and Censorship: What Has Big Tech Become?

Is there really such a thing as too big to fail? Mark Zuckerberg’s Augustus Caesar syndrome aside, there was a time when the Roman Empire dominated the then civilized world.

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Google, the biggest of the big, did not feel the need to send anyone (Larry Page’s presence was requested) to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee – an empty seat was left for Page, complete with placard. Yet Google has no problem cooperating with the Chinese government (Google China Prototype Links Searches to Phone Numbers, making it easier for the Chinese government to monitor people’s queries. Ed: and note to Android owners: wonder where they are or have been beta testing). Read More...

Dumb Things Founders Do, Say or Believe

Dumb Things Founders Do, Say or Believe

Summer break is over. Time to get real again. Speaking of which, we’d like to offer a few observations which may help your pitch or strategy and which will hopefully help you move the needle just a bit. Or at least to get real. We do actively mentor at accelerators, and attend pitch events and demo days and host semi-monthly investor breakfasts for entrepreneurs. We don’t claim to have seen and heard it all, but there are a few things you might want to take note of – and a few claims and phrases we’d rather not hear again:

“We have 30+ years experience in ecommerce.” A team of maybe four young co-founders pitching, say, an ecommerce play and claiming to have 30+ years of experience between them. Note to self: most of your team looks as though they’re under 30. Ecommerce itself has only been around for some 20+ years, when most of your teams were still in diapers or hadn’t made his or her debut yet on the planet. Stop it. You’re not fooling anyone. Read More...

Net Neutrality and How the Tech Cabal Just Shot Themselves in the ISP

Net Neutrality and How the Tech Cabal Just Shot Themselves in the ISP

The Senate Intelligence Committee is meeting this week about foreign influence on tech platforms. In the hot seat: Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

Google refuses to make an appearance, even though the committee specifically requested Larry Page’s presence. Google no doubt prefers not to come under too much scrutiny. Just last week The Intercept reported that Google Executives Misled (Their Own) Staff on China Censorship. With so many balls in the air/fronts to defend, the cabal (Google, Facebook, Twitter, in this instance) have become such hydras with so many tentacles – and fronts – to defend, that they may well be on the verge of falling on their own swords – and they themselves have provided the arguments and ammunition, should Congress or an oversight committee be forced to step in. Notice: we don’t necessarily suggest regulation. They did that themselves: Last week, Google, Facebook, Netflix, Twitter and others urged a U.S. appeals court to reinstate federal “net neutrality” regulations on internet service providers, to maintain a “free and open internet.” Read More...

Is This the Social Media Tipping Point?

Is This the Social Media Tipping Point?

Mark Zuckerberg Quietly (Sold) His Facebook Stock back in March and as Recode reported in February, Mark Zuckerberg will likely sell billions of dollars of Facebook stock this year. He’s not alone. On Friday, Satya Nadella unload(ed) 30% of his Microsoft common stock in his biggest sale as CEO.

The Age of Social has reached a tipping point, and it’s taking all of tech with it.

Some can see the writing on the wall and are cutting their losses. Read More...

Post-Steve Jobs: Wash, Rinse, Repeat – Apple Hits $1T

Post-Steve Jobs: Wash, Rinse, Repeat – Apple Hits $1T

Here's to the crazy ones

What If Ma Bell Had Behaved Like Facebook? The Facebook Stock Fail Explained

What If Ma Bell Had Behaved Like Facebook? The Facebook Stock Fail Explained

Facebook’s stock took a nosedive last week, sending shockwaves through the stock market. Twitter also took a big hit. Time for perspective: the price is back to where it was in May. The stock price took a big jump in July, then came back down to earth.

Are we looking at end of days, an overdue correction, or time for Facebook et al to reexamine the business model?

The tech sector has no historic perspective. They have always felt that the rules of business don’t apply to them. Tech is a mere extension of utilities we’ve seen before. Facebook, in many respects, is the telco reimagined. Only, in this case, you can reach out and touch people globally, without incurring long distance charges. Or make a conference call, when it comes to posts. Read More...

Is Facebook a publisher? In public it says no, but in court it says yes. Who’s to say?

Is Facebook a publisher? In public it says no, but in court it says yes. Who’s to say?

Facebook raised ire last week when, in an interview with Recode’s Kara Swisher, Mark Zuckerberg volunteered, unsolicited, that the platform would not be banning holocaust deniers – an editorial decision, which would make Facebook a publisher. In fact, The Guardian recently asked, Is Facebook a publisher? In public it says no, but in court it says yes In its defense against a former app startup, Facebook is contradicting its long-held claim to be simply a neutral platform. Strengthening the argument – its business model: Facebook makes its money off advertising.

Zuckerberg did note that the company plans on adding 20,000 people to help police the platform and to watch Facebook Live videos and alert authorities when certain people may be about to harm themselves. The number hardly dents Facebook’s bottom line. As Techonomy notes, “(Facebook) is the most profitable large company that ever existed… Its 43% net margins, on revenues that this year will exceed $55 billion, are unprecedented for a company this size. That means it will have profits this year, after taxes, of roughly $23 billion.” Read More...

“Don’t teach people how to fish, but teach them to build fishing schools.” Esther Dyson’s long term thinking on healthcare in a short attention span world.

“Don’t teach people how to fish, but teach them to build fishing schools.” Esther Dyson’s long term thinking on healthcare in a short attention span world.

Esther Dyson spoke at a CapGemini event recently. If the name is unfamiliar, her LinkedIn profile is a start, but it’s not the half of it. Dyson was an early tech guru, impresario of the highly influential PC Forum conference  and the Release 1.0 newsletter, and friendly with Steve Jobs, Bill Gates – and Yours Truly.

Esther is a long-term thinker in a short attention span world. Her current focus: Wellville, where she has gone into five communities to disrupt healthcare by stopping health problems before they become problems, through education. As she put it, not to teach people how to fish, but how to build fishing schools. Will her program, which she calls not a startup but rather, the beginnings of a restaurant chain, make a difference? Time will tell: she’s four years into a 10-year project. As for the difference between long and short term thinking: her team is educating people about healthy food and food preparation, rather than delivering meal kits or take-out with the results (potentially) being making a difference on long-term health, rather than achieving a quick billion-dollar valuation. And bringing down insurance payouts and by extension, health care costs. A potentially multi-billion dollar savings. Read More...

The Wright Brothers Didn’t Have a Pilot’s License and More Sage Advice from Investors

The Wright Brothers Didn’t Have a Pilot’s License and More Sage Advice from Investors

Some investors put a lot of stock in startups or founders who have subject matter expertise. Jeanne Sullivan, founder of Starvest, loves to hear from founders who are doing something totally new, in which case, how can you be a subject matter expert. After all, as she said, “the Wright Brothers didn’t have a pilot’s license.“

We host a breakfast every two weeks with one investor and a small group of entrepreneurs. We prefer this over filling the room with 100-400 people, as investors tend to say things in a smaller group and impart information that might not come out during the Q&A in a larger group. Since it’s summer and many of the investors are away – which means that we’re only hosting one breakfast in July and one in August – we felt that this might be a good time to share some of the information that they’ve share with us (and the attendees) with you: Read More...

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