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

NetSuite and iCharts: Enterprise Apps As Data Integration Platforms

Posted by Tom Foremski - May 17, 2016


iCharts founder and CEO Seymour Duncker

The future calls for enterprise apps becoming aggregators of trusted IT micro-services from many sources   — does that mean they can become effective data integration platforms? A low-cost path to Big Data’s promises of profitable business insights?

Story continues...

Gary Bloom Interview: Big Data Driving Booming MarkLogic Sales

Posted by Tom Foremski - May 17, 2016

GaryBloom 720

When I first met Gary Bloom more than 15 years ago he was second to Larry Ellison at Oracle, and when he jumped to run Veritas, I was one of the first reporters to interview him. Then came a short stint at Symantec, eMeter, then consulting with private equity firm TPG. With over 30 years in key positions he’s become one of Silicon Valley’s top business leaders.

Since 2012, Bloom has been CEO of MarkLogic, a fast growing Silicon Valley database company riding the hot wave of interest in NoSQL databases such as MongoDB, as large organizations attempt to mine their diverse stores of big data for business insights. 

Relational databases still run at the core of every large business but they are seen as too limited and too structured for the digital business world where there is a need for highly scalable, highly adaptable database architectures that can easily add unstructured data sources, run on clusters, and support complex web sites — without first mapping all the data into the correct rows and columns of a relational database. 

Story continues...

uHoo: Every Breath You Take -- Collecting Data On Your Personal Pollution

Posted by Tom Foremski - May 10, 2016


Our transition from a rural to an urban lifestyle means we spend far more time inside homes and offices and on the roads connecting them. And that means exposure to a huge number of gases leaking from the walls, carpets, industrial facilities and cars. It would be good to know the locations where the concentration of these gases are harmful to peoples' health.

Singapore based uHoo today announced a digital device that can detect a large number of harmful chemicals such as carbon monoxide, ozone, and volatile organic solvents in the air along with sensor data on air pressure, humidity, dust and temperature. 

Story continues...

The Future of Media: Can Publishers Become Media Platforms?

Posted by Tom Foremski - April 28, 2016

WeberPanel 720

From left: Vivian Schiller, Christina Farr, Charlene Li, Stephanie Losee.

Social media platforms Facebook, Medium, LinkedIn, Twitter, Apple are competing for traditional media publishers to use them as distribution platforms and in some cases are offering 100% of advertising revenues. Certain publications now rely on the majority of their traffic from these media platforms. But is this an equitable partnership?

Vivian Schiller, a veteran news executive at, NPR, Twitter, CNN and now Executive Editor-in-Residence at PR firm Weber Shandwick, introduced these and other questions as moderator at Weber’s second Future of Media panel series.  

The San Francisco event featured five additional women and one man: Christina Farr, reporter for Fast Company; Charlene Li principal analyst at Altimeter Group; Stephanie Losee, head of content at Visa; Jillian D’Onfro reporting for Business Insider; and Karen Wickre, content strategist, and Simon Rogers, a Data Editor at Google. 

Here’s some of my notes from the evening:

Story continues...

Thursday Event: San Francisco City Execs Talk Social Media Strategy

Posted by Tom Foremski - April 27, 2016

SFCity 720

The Social Media Club meeting this Thursday eve (April 28) looks fascinating. It will feature two San Francisco City and County communications executives: Kathleen Clark, social media manager and Lauren Jones, Digital Comms Manager. They will discuss the role of social media, strategy and future plans. 

More than 50 departments of the City and County of San Francisco publish social media pages. 

As part of Silicon Valley’s innovation communities, San Francisco city government could set a leadership position in how cities can use social media, and powerful publishing platforms such as Instagram, LinkedIn and Medium to communicate important news and engage communities on key city programs.

 More details and tickets here: Increasing Public Awareness: A Social Strategy for a Social City

The Limits On Big Data On Dating In Building Diversity At Work

Posted by Tom Foremski - April 6, 2016

Workplace 0022

Romantic relationships, and a person's relationship with their work, would seem to be too distant and the experience too different to be comparable, yet eHarmony believes its success with the lonely can be put to use to make happier workplaces, and match people with jobs they love.

And if eHarmony's algorithms could also help build more diversity in the workplace, there are many Silicon Valley companies that would love to place an order because this has become a very hot topic and there's no quick solution.

I spoke with Dr. Steve Carter who heads the recently launched eHarmony venture: Elevated Careers. He says the same data science, derived from eHarmony's many years in the dating and mating scene, are applicable to our relationship with work.

Carter says the same methods for predicting romantic bliss can predict compatibility between worker and workplace.

Over the years, eHarmony's analysis of its Big Data on dating, has been honed to such a degree that it can claim a very precise, "438 marriages per day on eHarmony."

If it can bring a fraction of that accuracy to predict a person's job satisfaction,  Elevated Careers will have made a start on its mission of repairing, "A broken recruitment model that costs US businesses $11 billion a year."

Could the same data science be used to help employers make their workplaces more diverse? Could Elevated Careers match people's diversity with compatibility in the workplace? Many Silicon Valley companies are searching for ways to add more diversity by increasing numbers of women, minorities, etc.

"Oh no, we stay away from that type of protected information," says Carter. "We focus on helping each person find a workplace with a high level of compatibility with the company's culture, the hiring manager, and shared attitude towards work."

Elevated Careers can't help build diverse workplaces because it is illegal for a company, or its agents, to discriminate in its hiring practices, based on a candidate's qualities of diversity, rather than job qualifications.

But on a dating site, it is perfectly legal to filter candidates based on ethnicity, gender, size, shape, religion, sexual orientation, looks, color of hair, color of eyes, height and age. It is not racist or sexist when it's used for dating because all these individual preferences are essential in predicting relationship success.

Because eHarmony says that what works in dating also works in predicting success in professional relationships, the best analysis of workplace compatibility would be with all available measurable traits of a person's diversity incorporated into the Elevated Careers algorithm. But that would be illegal.

Elevated Careers can't use eHarmony's vast archives of relationship data; and it can't use the lessons learned in compatibility between people.  Its algorithms would be attacked as racist and sexist if used to measure job compatibility.  This means Elevated Careers begins life with a big job ahead in collecting all the people and workplace data it needs to prove its approach will work.

For example, to predict job compatibility, Elevated Careers needs to survey a significant number of each company's workers independently of the employer, so that a true and honest assessment of culture and job satisfaction can be made, and then matched. 

It's going to take a while for it to build a large enough dataset, adjust its predictive algorithms, and start helping people find a happier relationship with work.

Elevated Careers has a worthwhile mission, and it might improve some workplaces just from the jump in self-awareness that each company will experience when considering questions about its culture, and why it has such a high staff turnover.  

Story continues...

Enterprise Security: The Easiest Hacks Are The Toughest To Stop With Technology

Posted by Tom Foremski - March 24, 2016

Corporate700  1

The challenge of protecting the enterprise from simple email phishing scams.

There’s no need to use advanced Black Hat technologies to get access to sensitive corporate data if you have a copy of a staff directory — as more than 21,000 employees of Sprouts supermarket chain found out recently. All had their social security numbers and other personal details exposed after an employee in the payroll department responded to an email from what looked like a senior executive asking for a copy of every employee’s W2. 

All of the Sprouts employees now face many years of anxiety over hackers patiently waiting to use and abuse their illicit data haul of taxpayer identities.

Story continues...

Intel's Andy Grove Is Dead - Silicon Valley Loses Top Business Leader And A Champion Of Diversity

Posted by Tom Foremski - March 22, 2016

BobNoyceGroveMoore1978 thumb

1978: Andy Grove, left, with Intel colleagues Robert Noyce (center) and Gordon Moore.

Intel yesterday announced that Andrew Grove, its former CEO and Chairman, had died aged 79.

Present at Intel’s 1968 founding with Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore, Andy Grove became Intel’s President in 1979 and CEO in 1987. He served as Chairman of the Board from 1997 to 2005. Both during his time at Intel and in retirement, Grove was one of the most influential figures in technology and business, writing best-selling books and widely cited articles, and speaking out on an array of prominent public issues.

Story continues...

Data Masking Saves CIO Jobs And Makes IT Heroes

Posted by Tom Foremski - March 10, 2016

Halloween 3

Working at Delphix, a virtual technologies startup in the heart of Silicon Valley, I've been learning a lot about enterprise software and the challenges facing global corporations as business becomes ever more digital. 

Data security is critical and its importance was underscored by the recent RSA Conference in San Francisco -- the world's largest gathering of computer security experts. About 40,000 people -- a jump of nearly 20% compared with last year -- attended its awards ceremonies, hundreds of presentations, and demonstrations from thousands of vendors of data protection technologies.

But if you bought everything at RSA would your organization be completely secure? 

Story continues...

#IN2Summit: Is Content Marketing Failing Us? 3 Ex-Journalists Say 'No'

Posted by Tom Foremski - February 16, 2016


From right: Michael Kanellos, (standing) SanDisk; Scott Lowe, Activision; Stephanie Losee, Politico; moderator Henk Campher Allison+ Partners.

The Holmes Report's Innovation Summit in San Francisco featured a panel of former journalists, now engaged on producing a broad range of editorial content for large brands, speaking on the topic of Content Marketing.

The first question was should the average person know anything about Content Marketing? They all nodded vigorously: No, because it is all about great content, and since the goal of Content Marketing is publish editorial content of substantial value then it is no different from the goals of independently produced content.

Story continues...

Pioneering Silicon Valley PR & Media Research Group SNCR Merges With The Conference Board

Posted by Tom Foremski - February 10, 2016

Around ten years ago I happened to be in the right place at the right time — meeting Jen McClure as she was setting up an extraordinary organization: The Society for New Communications Research (SNCR).

I was honored to be invited as a Founding Fellow and it has led to many wonderful friendships. I’m glad that Jen’s hard work has paid off as she announces a merger with The Conference Board, which has the resources to take the important work of SNCR further and farther afield with its offices in 60 countries. 

Here is Jen McClure to explain:

Story continues...

Crunchies Awards: Diversity Ruled The Stage But Silicon Valley Stars Absent

Posted by Tom Foremski - February 9, 2016


I was excited to be at The Crunchies Awards Monday evening. I was right behind two seats reserved for Mike Arrington (founder of TechCrunch) and my old buddy Om Malik founder of GigaOm.

Neither came to occupy their seats and neither did Silicon Valley's star CEOs and VCs as had been common in prior years. Arrington and Malik turned up on stage later to present an award for Angel of the year but there was no Silicon Valley royalty: no Zuckerberg, no Marissa Mayer, no Travis Kalanick, Elon Musk, Marc Benioff, Marc Andreessen...

Story continues...

Geoffrey Moore: Does IT Matter? Are Apps Important?

Posted by Tom Foremski - February 4, 2016


Geoffrey Moore's 1991 book "Crossing the Chasm" was incredibly influential in the tech sector with more than one million copies sold and it gave birth to the Chasm Consulting Group.

Story continues...

Silicon Valley Gets On The Same Bus Every Day...

Posted by Tom Foremski - January 18, 2016


Silicon Valley's pursuit of diversity is skin-tone distracted and gender confused. Diversity is more than a ratio...

Silicon Valley's leadership in sourcing innovative ideas is slipping and its feeble pursuit of diversity isn't helping.

Original ideas come from original experiences -- an environment that brims with a diversity of genders, skin colors, ages, economic backgrounds, national cultures, and artistic expression.

A tree grows in Brooklyn...

Story continues...

On Blogging And Bragging: Being Named By LinkedIn As A Top Media Writer And The Unbearable Awkwardness Of Self-Promotion...

Posted by Tom Foremski - January 8, 2016


I feel very honored to be ranked #4 by LinkedIn as one of the "top 10 media writers of the year" in the debut of its "Top Voices of the year" list that named 80 writers across eight industry sectors.

I also feel a little uncomfortable about drawing attention to such accolades as do the majority of former newspaper reporters. We don't mind if someone else blows our horn but it feels crass doing it yourself. In today's media world that attitude is a handicap because if you can't handle a certain level of self-promotion no one will see your work.

The early Blogosphere...

When I left the Financial Times more than ten years ago to become a "journalist blogger" I suddenly fell into a very small, very strange community of writers I hardly knew before. It felt great to be part of this tiny and very feisty band of bloggers with Robert Scoble, Om Malik, Renee Blodgett, Dan Farber, Anil Dash, Doc Searls, Craig Newmark, Andy Lark, Dennis Howlett, Nick Denton, David Galbraith, Dan and Steve Gillmor, Jeff Clavier, etc (please see: Original Thinkers list).

Story continues...

The Software Defined Megacorporation - Why IT matters

Posted by Tom Foremski - November 17, 2015

IMG_0470 (1).jpg

There's a new business reality that few companies know about. If you want to be a player in global markets you will need a top-notch IT department. It won't be the same as the current one but whatever you do, don't buy the hype that you can just use off-the-shelf technologies and that the cloud makes IT departments obsolete.

Business edge will be defined by IT edge. IT matters and the performance of your IT department matters a lot.

The following is from my ZDNet column: IMHO:

The IT department will be transformed from a slow changing cost center and into a vibrant, creative organization essential to every business competing on a global scale.

More than ten years have passed since the publication of the book, "Does IT Matter? Information Technology and the Corrosion of Competitive Advantage" by Nicholas Carr, the former Executive Editor of the Harvard Business Review.

Few people disagreed with Carr's argument. In a world where every large company has the same IT systems, the same ERP apps, the same IT infrastructure, the same commodity hardware, no one has a strategic advantage.

Carr was right but that was then...

Story continues...

Computer Pioneer Alan Kay Says Tech Industry Ignores The Future

Posted by Tom Foremski - November 4, 2015



I was at SAP in Palo Alto earlier this week to see computer pioneer Alan Kay give a talk and also to meet with him for an exclusive interview.

I’ll have more on the interview coming up. I just uploaded the video of his talk here: Alan Kay @ SAP - YouTube

Alan Kay is a computer pioneer, he was part of the the Xerox PARC team of about 30 researchers who developed many of the key concepts of the PC and notebook. Here he talks about the lack of forward thinking in technology design and innovation.

He advocates designing products for how we expect to use technologies decades from now instead of trying to replicate old technologies.

He also talks about system thinking rather than discrete products such as apps and hardware, the goal is integration and collaboration among our technologies because that’s what’s important for humans: more collaboration.

He also mentions that Steve Jobs missed a lot when he visited Xerox PARC and replicated the graphical user interface and mouse — he didn’t see the computers were all connected, used Ethernet, and they connected to the nascent Internet then called ARPAnet. Steve Jobs missed half of it and didn't see that the computers were all networked "because he's a visual guy."


Internet Archive Hero Award Goes To Viral Marketing Pioneers Grateful Dead

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 22, 2015

IArchive  1

John Perry Barlow accepts Internet Archive Hero Award from Brewster Kahle.

The Internet Archive (IA), the San Francisco based non-profit digital media archive, this week announced several new programs in collaboration with major US libraries and a new annual award: Internet Archive Hero.

The programs include partnerships with top libraries and music archive organizations. Music is a key focus for the IA which unveiled a "music locker" approach to enlarging its store of music without triggering copyright suits. It allows music collectors to upload digital copies of their libraries to their music locker stored on the Internet Archive. It will signal if a title has already been digitized and uploaded by another but it will still be available in the music locker. This should increase the size of the music archive by eliminating duplicate work and focusing on titles not yet digitzed.

Story continues...

Weber Shandwick: Not Much Future In Spirited 'Future Of Media' Discussion

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 14, 2015

SVW  1  1 copy

Weber Shandwick had a great turnout for its Future of Media event moving it to FAME on Broadway, a larger location in the heart of North Beach. And we had a rare all-woman panel after the lone male dropped out.

The moderator said it was a pleasure to be part of an all woman panel especially when the subject has nothing to do with women. 

SVW  1  4 copy

The moderator was Vivian Schiller Executive Editor-in-Residence at Weber Shandwick and the former Global Chair of News at Twitter, and a former CEO of NPR, did a good job including everyone in the conversation even if some panelists were way behind the times in their advice. For example: This is not a good time for journalists to strike out on their own, those days have come and long gone! Teams win.]

Story continues...

Churchill Club: Intel's Andy Grove Receives 'Legendary Leader Award'

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 30, 2015

Churchills 00159

From left: Saleem Janmohamed, Accenture; Andy Grove, Ben Horowitz and Geoffrey Moore, M.C.

Andy Grove was a founder, CEO and Chairman of Intel during a long career that saw the Silicon Valley firm grow to become the world's largest chip maker.

Story continues...

Weber Shandwick And The Future Of Journalism

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 28, 2015

Screenshot 2015 09 28 15 25 48

The San Francisco office of PR firm Weber Shandwick is hosting an interesting panel on October 13 with top journalists and corporate media execs titled: Journalism Disrupted, Journalism Reborn: The Future of Media in a Digital World.

Weber scores marks for a female-dominated panel with four of the five panelists: Connie Guglielmo, Editor in Chief at CNET News; MC Wellons, SF Bureau Chief for CNBC; Ann Grimes, Professor at Stanford University and a former Wall Street Journal SF Bureau Chief; Caroline Fairchild, New Economy Editor at LinkedIn; and Joaquin Alvarado, CEO for The Center for Investigative Reporting. 

Weber Shandwick has an active interest in the subject of journalism disrupted as do many PR firms because there’s plenty of new business opportunities. As the number of journalists continues to shrink, PR firms are offering businesses a wide range of editorial media services that includes: creating and publishing online magazines;  writing articles, columns and features; creating video news reports; etc.

Also known as “content marketing” it’s an attempt to try to plug the gaps in media coverage of companies that journalists once provided. It’s become a huge market. 

Weber Shandwick offers its media services through a business division called “Mediaco - We Help Every Company Become A Media Company”. [I worked with Mediaco last year on a client project.]

Foremski’s Take:

Story continues...

Jasper And The Connected Car

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 21, 2015

IoT Infographic

Jasper is positioning itself firmly in the Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure sector where it already has a lot of customers for its technologies.

If you are interested in IoT and the "connected car" there is a panel and networking event coming up this Thursday September 24 at 6pm  in San Francisco and you can request an invite here. Panelists include:

Story continues...

Technologies For Understanding Human Sign Language

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 15, 2015

A report from Intel Free Press on the challenges in developing communications technologies for deaf people... 

By Intel Free Press

Adam Munder, a lithography process engineer at Intel, has been 100 percent deaf since he was 1 year old. He doesn't read lips, nor does he speak. His communication is primarily based on using American Sign Language (ASL) and using two interpreters, one who listens to conversations and converts the dialog into ASL and another who reads his responses in ASL and voices this to his audience.

Munder seldom uses technology to communicate, despite being immersed in an extremely technical environment within Intel. And these technical conversations about lithography, a process for etching geometric shapes on a silicon wafer, are what actually pose the biggest difficulty for him communicating.

Story continues...

Finn Partners Acquires Horn Group...And The PR Industry's Gender Barrier

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 10, 2015

Screenshot 2015 09 10 14 40 56

PRWeek’s Lindsay Stein reports that Finn Partners has acquired Horn Group for an undisclosed sum to boost its tech practice.

After more than two decades in the business, Horn said she started thinking about selling, and Finn Partners was attractive because of its fresh thinking, independent stature, and culture. She noted that the deal will also expand its reach both in terms of geography and services. Horn’s security software clients may be interested in Finn Partners’ lobbying practice in Washington, DC, for example.

In 2014, Finn had 370 staffers worldwide and more than $52 million in global billings. Following the Horn acquisition, the agency will have about $70 million in annual fees and 500 employees.

Finn Partners boosts tech practice with Horn Group acquisition | PR Week

Foremski’s Take: Sabrina Horn is one of San Francisco’s top PR industry mavens, (even though she has been spending most of her time in New York these past few years). I’ve worked with Horn Group’s San Francisco teams on many stories over the past 15 years. 

Story continues...

'Leaders aren't afraid to be wrong' Says LinkedIn's Head Designer Amy Parnell

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 2, 2015


Above, LinkedIn's Head Designer Amy Parnell interviewed by Adam Leventhal CTO of Delphix.

The recent Delphix Tech Talk series featured Amy Parnell, Director of User Experience at LinkedIn. Adam Leventhal, Delphix CTO interviewed Amy on several key topics that helped surface some of the best practices she has developed at LinkedIn over the five years she's worked there. She leads more than 60 designers.

Here's the link to the WebEx video recording of her excellent talk: Amy Parnell @Delphix Tech Talks

Some of the key points that stood out for me:

Story continues...

Computer History: The Wearables Are New But The Challenges Are Old

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 18, 2015


Clint Zeagler, co-curator and co-designer of the “On You: A Story of Wearable Computing” show at the Computer History Museum.

By Intel Free Press

While wearables may be the latest rising trend, the concept of technology that can be worn on one’s body has actually been around for decades. Some of those original concepts even faced the same challenges that current devices currently are up against. A new exhibit, “On You: A Story of Wearable Computing” at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, showcases how wearables have evolved and overcome many challenges during that time.

Story continues...

What's Next When Every Company Is A Media Company? MaaS Media...

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 11, 2015


I'll be speaking Wednesday afternoon at PR Summit in San Francisco on the topic "Every company is a media company." 

I coined that term nearly a decade ago. Now every company is exploring what it means to be a media company because it has to, it has no choice.

Ten years on, I'll now tell you what is next in this exciting, but badly misunderstood trend that is tearing up the media industry and reorganizing companies and industries.

Every company is a media company but media companies don't write about themselves all day long. Media companies provide a service, companies have to discover how to produce  Media as a Service (MaaS) otherwise it is self-serving.

MaaS media is the best media. Find out more Wednesday afternoon at my Master Class session.

Media Business Models: Paper And Electron? That's Creativ

Posted by Tom Foremski - July 30, 2015


I recently received this well written pitch from Kaitlyn Garcia at VSC Consulting:

Print is dead. Magazines are dying.

Not so, thinks Creativ.

This magazine did something unique. They launched on mobile first, thanks to a large but relatively under the radar startup known as issuu, a platform that helps content creators build long form content vs. the short-form stuff we’re used to on apps like Flipboard.

Story continues...

Super-Fast Energy-Saving Memory Chip Breakthrough Will Change Computing

Posted by Tom Foremski - July 29, 2015


We will all be using a new type of memory chip soon reports Intel Free Press, thanks to the fruits of a partnership between Intel and Micron.

By Intel Free Press

After years of research by Intel and Micron Technology, the first new memory technology in 25 years has been announced. Called 3D XPoint it combines the best of DRAM and NAND (Flash) and promises to change computer designs.

"This has no predecessor and there was nothing to base it on," said Al Fazio, Intel senior fellow and director of Memory Technology Development. "It's new materials, new process architecture, new design, new testing. We're going into some existing applications, but it's really intended to completely evolve how it's used in computing."

Story continues...

Twitter's Problems Could Harm SF Mayor's Re-Election

Posted by Tom Foremski - July 28, 2015


Twitter is cleaning up in the Tenderloin.
Twitter's second quarter financial loss was smaller than Wall Street estimates but it also reported a large slowdown in the number of users and shares slid about 6% in after-market trading.

It reported its slowest rate of growth with the number of monthly active users up by just 1% or about 2 million to 304m compared with Q1. The company has lost several senior executives this year including its CEO. Twitter's share price at $34 is well below its IPO debut of $45.10. 

Foremski's Take: Twitter has become better at monetizing its large numbers of users but the lack of new user momentum, and endless leadership problems have left investors exasperated with the lack of progress.

Story continues...

If urgent: send text or call 415 336 7547

Bacon's names Silicon Valley Watcher one of the
most influential blogs in the US.

Tom Foremski is a Founding Fellow of the Society for New Communications Research - a Silicon Valley based think tank focused on developments in media and PR.


The Holmes Report names Tom Foremski one of the top 25 Innovators of 2013.

Tom Foremski #28 on San Francisco - Silicon Valley
Top 50 Most Influential

Best Bay Area Blog

SF Publicity Club's ninth annual awards
celebrating excellence in media.