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We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters. So who are these characters???

We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters. So who are these characters???

Peter Thiel, Photo: Wikipedia

It was Peter Thiel who said it, as we all know, and now it seems that at long last, we may well be on the verge of seeing flying cars. Or at least driverless hover-taxis will be taking off next year in Singapore. That could be a start. When we saw this article, we were reminded of Thiel’s quote and since we’re approaching the year’s end, when people and publications typically do their wrap-up “Best ofs,” “Worst ofs,” or “Top Ten Something or Others” lists, we decided that instead, it’s about time that someone attempted to identify those 140 characters that we’ve heard mentioned all this time.

Since we’ve personally been in the industry since the early days of Web 1.0 in New York and spent a considerable amount of time in Silicon Valley as well, we’ve decided to take it upon ourselves to do just that. Over the years, we’ve seen people and companies come and go. Some were bad timing. Many were simply bad ideas. Some were acquired for unbelievable amounts of money, only to disappear forever, leaving the then suddenly wealthy founders looking like geniuses. It was the Wild West, all right, and for the most part, a matter of too much money being thrown at too much youth and inexperience in those heady days of Web 1.0.

Some were true innovators who created platforms and software and devices that forged an entirely new industry. You may not be familiar with their names, but their contributions should never be forgotten. Read More...

What is a post scientific world? Only AI may know.

What is a post scientific world? Only AI may know.

Much has been written about AI, both utopian and dystopian. Elon Musk has launched a billion dollar crusade to stop the AI apocalypse. Bill Gates insisted that it was a threat, until he changed his mind. Mark Zuckerberg is a big supporter, insisting that “AI makes human life better.” Then again, he also told Congress that Facebook is not a publisher – until the issue came up in court: Is Facebook a publisher? In public it says no, but in court it says yes.

Remember when Facebook apologized after ‘the algorithm’ blocked the Declaration of Independence as ‘hate speech?’ And that was just an algorithm that was wrong or defective. 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...

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...

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...

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