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140 Characters Who Helped Shape the Tech World

140 Characters Who Helped Shape the Tech World

It was Peter Thiel who said, “We were promised flying cars. Instead we got 140 characters.” It looks like flying cars may be slowly rolling out, with Singapore’s flying taxi trial set to begin in the second half of 2019, but who the hell are those 140 characters to whom Theil might have been referring? As a co-founder of PayPal and an early investor in Facebook, LinkedIn, Yelp and Quora, he certainly knows what sorts of characters tech can breed.

We’ve been involved in the tech world since the nascent days of Web 1.0 in New York City – with monthly trips to Silicon Valley at the time, as well – and over the years, have encountered many of those characters, upfront and personal, for better or for worse. Of course we have stories to tell, but that’s for a later date and a much longer opus.

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. Some forgot their original drivers, whether it was to not be evil or to connect the world, tracked the world’s population in ways and to an extent to which it had never been tracked before, storing it and parsing out that information to the highest and/or any and all bidders, and paying no heed to the concept that we might have the right to be forgotten. Read More...

Big Tech is riding the same rails as robber barons of the past

Big Tech is riding the same rails as robber barons of the past

The Last Spike, 1869.

The tech industry – in particular, the FAANG stocks – have hit a strange inflection point. They’re taking a beating on Wall Street. And Facebook is under attack from all sides.

There was The New York Times piece (Delay, Deny and Deflect: How Facebook’s Leaders Fought Through Crisis), which was written with the assistance of no less than 50 sources.

An international committee of foreign governments has requested that Zuckerberg appear before lawmakers to face inquiries, particularly into disinformation, election meddling and privacy issues. Zuckerberg refused. 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...

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...

The Time’s Up Edition (Because ‘Heads Up’ Is No Longer Cutting It)

The Time’s Up Edition (Because ‘Heads Up’ Is No Longer Cutting It)

Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress last month, and there were a few points he needed to clarify. He promised to get back to the legislators, and so he did.

Notes Buzzfeed (“Here Are 18 Things You Might Not Have Realized Facebook Tracks About You Including: information about your online and offline actions and other devices on your Wi-Fi network), “Last week, Congress released a massive document with written answers to those questions. These responses were a good reminder that Facebook records a ton of information about you.” Read More...

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...

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...

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