Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

S&P Teams With Girls in Tech To Launch Free Tech School For Females

Posted by Tom Foremski - April 5, 2017

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S&P Global, a top financial services firm, has teamed with Girls in Tech to offer free online classes for 350 “girls and women around the world.”

The eight-week course is focused on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills. Students only need a web browser and an Internet connection.

Adriana Gascoigne, Founder and CEO of Girls in Tech, said: "No matter where she may be located, what social constraints she may have, we want to make sure that all girls and women have access to technical skills that will define their future."

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The Limits Of Persuasive Realities: Hacking The Brain Stem With VR Marketing Technologies

Posted by Tom Foremski - March 8, 2017

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Successful technologies start life by being good enough to be useful. Could some technologies become unbelievably good at what they do—and become too good to be used?

Todays marketing technologies have improved greatly thanks to all that personal data we constantly give away. And they are about to rocket to a new level.

With the addition of Virtual Reality environments bolstered by artificial intelligence and personalization — it will be possible to create the Dream Marketing Machine.

Prime the Dream Machine with any Brand and it will reliably churn out passionate and emotionally committed customers. You’ll get Fanboys and Fangirls by the stadium-load and for pennies on the dollar that Apple pays in marketing costs.

We could be very close to this Dream Marketing Machine. 

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Silicon Valley Innovators Warned About Hyperscale Tech Companies

Posted by Tom Foremski - February 17, 2017

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We are in an era of “Hyperscale companies” such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Apple that limit opportunities for startups warns Sam Altman, head of Y Combinator,  Silicon Valley’s influential investment group, accelerator and educator. 

The warning was part of a long 2017 YC Annual Letter:

Altman wrote: “We’re now in the era of hyperscale technology companies…
Companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google, Apple, and Microsoft have powerful advantages.”

“I expect that they will continue to do a lot of things well, have significant data and computation advantages, be able to attract a large percentage of the most talented engineers, and aggressively buy companies that get off to promising starts."

This situation “is unlikely to reverse without antitrust action.” 

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The Crunchies: An Aspirational Fantasy Of Startup Diversity; Plus Chelsea Peretti's App Ideas

Posted by Tom Foremski - February 7, 2017

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Chelsea Peretti (above) a comedic actress, introduced the 10th Annual Crunchies — awards celebrating startups and VCs in Silicon Valley — and managed some decent jokes poking fun at the techie audience and coming up with some great app ideas. (The final one is a killer app — people will need full-cycle tracking of nutrients to create total body datasets. See my video here.)

Diversity was once again the bold theme of the event as seen in the careful selections of the nominees for the awards. Time and again the stage was filled with winners: startup teams of mixed color and gender. 

People viewing from outside Silicon Valley would be tremendously impressed that our young startups are so progressive and clearly want to build the future the right way.

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Do No Evil, Google And The Year Of The Monkey...

Posted by Tom Foremski - January 31, 2017

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According to the Chinese zodiac Google became a public company in the year of the Monkey, in August 2004.

In Western culture we are familiar with the story of the three monkeys who very wisely: see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil. In some Asian cultures there is a fourth monkey: Do no evil.

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The Summer Of Love - Photos And Stories - SF Leads In Culture Not Just Tech

Posted by Tom Foremski - January 26, 2017

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 The California Historical Society has opened a Summer of Love photo exhibit and is collecting people’s stories about this very important cultural event.

To riff on the famous call to action voiced by Timothy Leary at the Human Be-In "turn on, tune in, drop out", we invite you to "log on, tune in, and join us" in this journey. If you have something to share—your first hand experience of the Summer of Love, an event you are planning, a book or article you are writing, or your memories of the era— or if you are interested in supporting this effort, please contact us.

It’s not just in technology that this small little place in the world leads the world. 

Here’s more information from Anthea Hartig, Head of the California Historical Society:

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The #FakeNews Effect On Commerce And Critical Thinking

Posted by Tom Foremski - January 26, 2017

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The issue of fake news is extremely serious and it requires immediate attention.  Its proliferation will undermine trust in everything. Everything will look fake. Including the truth.

Without reliable and trusted information:

- Consumers and commercial buyers will delay purchases.

- Businesses won’t have good information for investment decisions.

- Shareholders won’t have a clear view into investment risks.

The rich get richer…

The winners will be special self-interest interest groups — a variety of organizations with nefarious agendas. They will do very well in a fake news future and will learn to operate with impunity. Because even if outed — the truth will look fake. And anti-truth technologies will act as a red herring for a lot of censorship of valid content. 

It’s very bad for the economy. Fake news is also bad for your head. 

"The point of modern propaganda... is to exhaust your critical thinking"

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The Rise Of Fake News Amidst The Fall Of News Media

Posted by Tom Foremski - January 24, 2017

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The Fake News epidemic is a direct result of our continued failure to create a stable business model around professional news media. We seem to have forgotten that the news media sector continues to be in turmoil.

Take a look at a few of the headlines above from last year. And in just the first few days of 2017:

- Medium — one of the most popular online publishing sites says it will cut 50 jobs and change to an unspecified business model. Medium was founded by Ev Williams, founder of Blogger, co-founder of Twitter.

It doesn't pay for much of its content yet this digital-first social media savvy media company is struggling. All media companies are in the disruptive path - not just digital.

Ev Williams wrote:

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US Venture Capital Investments Plunge In Fourth Quarter 2016

Posted by Tom Foremski - January 11, 2017

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Two major reports on venture capital activity from PricewaterhouseCoopers/CB Insights and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) showed a steep drop in US venture capital investments in the last months of 2016 but a strong overall year. 

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The Advantages Of A Ten-Year Overnight Success

Posted by Tom Foremski - January 10, 2017

Lots of great observations on the value of ten-year old startups in this post by Irish entrepreneur Cronan McNamaraYour Overnight Success will be 10 Years in the Making + 10 Innovation Tips for the Long Term

He makes a good case that over a ten-year period the founders and management teams have learned a lot and now can leverage that expertise very effectively by using new tools and resources that provide global business opportunities. 

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Wearables Are Generating A Tsunami Of Useless Medical Data

Posted by Tom Foremski - December 12, 2016

At a recent media roundtable discussion about the future for wearables, hosted by Vivalnk, I was sitting next to two doctors who have been working in this field as advisers.

They told me they don't know what to do with all the data that patients keep sending them from their wearables, heart rate, steps taken, etc. And some wearables collect data on biometric data that's unknown to medical science. 

All of that big data and it has no medical value. I was astounded.

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Illuminate - Duarte Debuts New Movements Marketing Practice

Posted by Tom Foremski - December 2, 2016

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The Silicon Valley firm that helped Al Gore create a movement to curb climate change introduces strategy team to help leaders spark and sustain change. Guest post by Chris Knight 

In 2012, Nancy Duarte and Patti Sanchez set out to write a book to help business leaders envision the future and make their big, audacious visions a reality. In their 2016 book Illuminate: Ignite Change through Speeches, Stories, Ceremonies and Symbols, they lay out a five-part taxonomy for leadership movements.

Based on four years of in-depth research, Illuminate is rich in case studies about how great leaders like Apple's Steve Jobs, Starbucks' Howard Schultz and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used speeches, stories, ceremonies and symbols to mobilize the masses.

In a review of Illuminate, Forbes’ contributor Nick Morgan highly recommends the book for organizations that are keen on thinking through and telling stories that take

“best advantage of human cultural symbols, signs and signposts along the way. You can run an organization without telling stories to bring employees, customers, and the public into your fold – but you can’t run it very well.”

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Facebook is a tech-enabled media company

Posted by Tom Foremski - November 18, 2016

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Every day Facebook publishes millions of pages of content with advertising - what's "not a media company" about that?

Yet Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has lately been determined to identify Facebook as a tech company who's engineers are on a global mission of simply trying to connect people with each other.

Reuter's Giulia Segreti reported on Zuckerberg's recent comments in Rome, where he visited the Pope.

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Redfin: Big Jump In Women On Tech Boards Could 'Reshape' Business

Posted by Tom Foremski - November 16, 2016

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The number of women on the boards of tech companies has more than tripled since 2013 according to analysis of 100 public technology companies by Redfin, a national real estate brokerage.

The study says that tech company boards began to change because of a newspaper story. The New York Times pointed out that Twitter, which was preparing to go public in 2013, had an all-male board.

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HBO Comedian Loves That Silicon Valley Can't Take A Joke

Posted by Tom Foremski - November 15, 2016

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The winter issue of CNET Magazine is out and comedian T.J. Miller is on the cover and featured in an interview.

Miller is one of the characters in HBO’s sitcom Silicon Valley. In the interview he says,

I consider everybody who takes themselves seriously to be a little bit off,” Miller says. “And Silicon Valley seems to be the most effusive about how important their contributions are to society.

Miller proved his point last year when he hosted The Crunchies awards and upset many in the audience with his jokes about startups and the organizers said he would not be asked back.

Please see: The Crunchies’ Bitchgate: High Horses With Fake Unicorn Horns Ignore Decades Of Silicon Valley Misogyny -SVW

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Glassdoor Study: Big Gender Gap In Key Tech Salaries

Posted by Tom Foremski - November 15, 2016

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Robert Hohman, CEO of  Glassdoor announces gender pay gap study at Stanford University

Many US tech jobs show high levels of gender pay discrimination, well above other professions reports online jobs site Glassdoor in a study of more than 500,000 salaries.

The report listed the widest gender pay gap as 28% for computer programmer, 16% for game artists, 15% for information security specialists, 11% for software architects, and 10% for SEO strategist. A further 11 jobs were singled out for gender pay gaps, the lowest 2% for hardware engineers.

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A 'Tumultuous Decade' Rolls On... More Lost Generations Of Journalists

Posted by Tom Foremski - November 3, 2016

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Journalism’s uncertain future

This book looks interesting- Journalism’s Lost Generation: The Un-Doing of U.S. Newspaper Newsrooms by Scott Reinardy, a journalism professor at the University of Kansas.

Deron Lee at CJR, writes

When Scott Reinardy began studying the state of morale in newspaper newsrooms more than 10 years ago...He didn’t know the industry was about to enter a traumatic period of upheaval that would deplete the ranks of journalists around the country and force newspapers to reassess their mission...in that tumultuous decade.

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Media Disruption Accellerates As Paper Ads Plunge

Posted by Tom Foremski - November 2, 2016

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The disruption in the media industry is far from over as the transformation to a digital business model continues to challenge large newspaper groups according to recent financial reports.

Gannett and The New York Times Company are among companies reporting a steeper than expected drop in print advertising revenue in their latest financial quarter.

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The Brexit Silver Lining: 20% Discount On Top Euro Talent Says Radius

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 26, 2016

 

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Stephen Chipman and his teams at Boston-based Radius have helped a lot of  US companies set up their European headquarters in the United Kingdom especially London, and they are understandably concerned about what to do in the wake of the country’s referendum to leave the European common market.

Those UK offices employ a lot of people, a lot of skilled engineers, technicians, marketing and sales staff. So the prospect of moving their operations because of restricted access to the much larger European market is a top concern.

“There’s no need to worry right now,  I tell them,“ says Chipman. “And there’s nothing that can be done right now, until we know what the terms of the exit will be. It could take years.”

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GE startup will test ideas that could lead to a radical restructuring of its manufacturing business

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 13, 2016

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General Electric (GE), the largest industrial company in the US, says it has developed processes that more than double the speed of innovation and which have the potential to completely restructure its own business.

GE will next week launch its first business venture, called Fuse that will test a hugely ambitious and radical approach to creating new companies through processes and technologies designed to harness the work of global crowds of experts. 

The GE startup “will usher in what we believe is the future of work,” said Dyan Finkhousen, Director of GE’s Open Innovation and Advanced Manufacturing group.

She was speaking at Brightidea’s Synthesize user conference in San Francisco. Brightidea is an enterprise software platform that helps organizations generate innovative ideas. Finkhousen said the Brightidea platform was important to GE because it supported internal and external teams of people.

It’s the first details of GE’s ambition to be at the forefront of the future of work and a strong measure of its conviction that it already knows what the future of work looks like.

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What race is your AI? Obama discussion adds politics to tech

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 12, 2016

 

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Above photo by Christopher Anderson/Magnum Photos for WIRED

Joi Ito, head of the prestigious MIT Media Lab told President Obama he is concerned that the core development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology is being built by a “mostly white” and “predominately male gang of kids."

Ito's remarks were made at a recent meeting with Barack Obama and Scott Dadich, Editor-in-Chief of Wired Magazine. They have been published here: Barack Obama on Artificial Intelligence, Autonomous Cars, and the Future of Humanity | WIRED

Ito said:

This may upset some of my students at MIT, but one of my concerns is that it's been a predominately male gang of kids, mostly white, who are building the core computer science around AI.

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Intuit Has Big Plans For Small Business With New Quickbooks Platform Initiative

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 25, 2016

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Vinay Pai leads Intuit's developer initiative.

Intuit is planning a major expansion of its online Quickbooks business group into a machine learning advice, data and services platform for creating, managing and operating all types of small businesses.

The expansion of the Quickbooks platform and new partners will be announced at Intuit's Quickbooks Connect conference in late October, in San Jose, California. The event will feature some of the top developers of apps for Quickbooks' users, such as payroll services. 

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Culture Watch: Board Game 'Settlers of Catan' Has A Cult Following In Silicon Valley

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 11, 2016

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Photo from Catan.com 

Guest Post: By Janet Miller — a board game addict, habit scientist, former Silicon Valley executive and cofounder of Jen Reviews.

Settlers of Catan Settlers of Catan was one of the first European games to gain popularity in the U.S., and has been called “the board game of our time" by the Washington Post

Settlers has gone from being a Monopoly style game set in an island valley to a social, cult-attracting capitalist paradise. If you don't play, you're not going to fit in with the crowd of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.

The game is very popular in Silicon Valley — here’s some suggestions why:

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Laugh.ly: A Comedian In Every Pocket

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 11, 2016

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For fans of stand-up comedy: Laugh.ly launched today what is described as a “Pandora for standup comedy” smartphone app. It features 400 comedians such as Chris Rock, Amy Schumer, George Carlin, Aziz Ansari and also - you!

Self-publishing tools provide users with the means to create, publish and distribute their own stand-up act. 

Deals with large media companies such as Comedy Central provide a media library of tens of thousands of comedy routines. 

Cybersecurity Costs - An Unsustainable Tax On Business

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 4, 2016

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The cost of cybersecurity has become a burdensome tax on business and with 1.5 million IT security jobs unfilled, US corporations are losing to sophisticated criminal gangs, said security experts at a recent event in San Francisco.

"Cyber is a tax on business. Jamie Dimon [JP Morgan Chase CEO] has had to double his cybersecurity budget to $500 million. Things can't continue this way forever, we have to get ahead of the problem," said Ray Rothrock (photo), a veteran VC, now chairman and CEO of RedSeal, a startup that measures the effectiveness of enterprise security.

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Survey Warning: Millennials Will Shun Tech-Laggard Workplaces

Posted by Tom Foremski - July 19, 2016

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Millennials will leave jobs that use technologies “not up to their standard” and they prefer to have “high-tech perks” than free food and ping pong, according to a global survey commissioned by Dell and Intel. 

The Future Workforce Study questioned almost 4,000 employees in 10 countries working at various sized businesses. It found:

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Women In Tech: Is It OK To Say "Guys"?

Posted by Tom Foremski - July 11, 2016

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Is it OK to use the word “Guys”  when addressing a mixed gender group of colleagues? Should women celebrate their feminine qualities or seek to avoid those stereotypes entirely at work?

These were some of the things discussed at a recent event, “The Gender Gap and How to Defeat It,” organized by Thomson Reuters and hosted by Blurb, a self—publishing startup in San Francisco. It featured a panel of younger and older women working in the tech sector and primarily aimed at an audience of young women students preparing to enter the workplace.  

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Blockchain: Revolutionary Technology Or Over-Hyped Bandwagon?

Posted by Tom Foremski - June 28, 2016

 

Is blockchain technology the second coming of the Internet? That seems to be the enthusiastic message from many new startups that I meet with and also from top business consultants such as Don Tapscott, who authored with his son Alex Tapscott, the recently published book, "Blockchain Revolution: How the technology behind Bitcoin is changing money, business, and the world."

Blockchain is a globally distributed ledger -- a platform for reliably clearing transactions without the need of a bank or other third-party. I get the concept behind blockchain, that everyone owns the same ledger and thus it can't be easily altered unless you can gain control of the majority of all the computing resources.

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Women & Tech: How To Defeat The Gender Gap

Posted by Tom Foremski - June 27, 2016

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Thomson Reuters and Blurb are hosting a special evening Tuesday June 28 in San Francisco, focused on the topic: Empowering women to work in technology.

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Intel's Andy Grove Named Silicon Valley Visionary

Posted by Tom Foremski - June 27, 2016

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Visionary Awards: Craig Barrett, center with Tim O’Reilly and Jane Evans-Ryan, Genuity. 

This year’s Silicon Valley Forum Visionary Awards featured a tribute to the late Andy Grove, the legendary leader of Intel, who helped build the company into the world’s most valuable semiconductor company.

Three additional people received a 2016 Visionary Award: Carl Bass, CEO Autodesk; Tom Wheeler, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and Jennifer Pahika, founder and Executive Director of Code for America.

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