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

Exclusive: Japanese Giant NTT's Stealthy Global Ambitions Via Silicon Valley

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 28, 2014


NTT Group senior strategist Tsunehisa Okuno outlines NTT's future.

NTT Group, Japan's $112 billion communications giant, unveiled ambitious plans for expansion by leveraging its strengths in global communications infrastructure, its aggressive investments in its IT services division, and in the rapid monetization of key technologies and services created by its new Silicon Valley based research center, NTT Innovation Institute.

I was the only journalist at a recent strategy briefing at NTT's research and development center in Palo Alto. The company's representatives laid out an ambitious plan to grow out its overseas business into a $20 billion annual revenues operation by the end of its 2016 fiscal year (March 2017), a 33% jump from this year's projected $15 billion.

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Uber Sleazy Tactics: Should Investors Teach Startups Ethics?

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 26, 2014



Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Photo: JD Lasicka

Casey Newton in The Verge has a great story about how Uber, the San Francisco ride app startup, is trying to sabotage its rival Lyft by hiring people to call and cancel thousands of rides.

So much for the top innovator wins in Silicon Valley. These are very unethical and sleazy tactics:

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CNET's 'Vexed in the City' Series Examines SF's Divisive Tech Boom

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 25, 2014


CNET's reporters have published a series of articles under the title "Vexed in the City" examining the pressures on housing and community caused by the expansion of San Francisco's population of tech workers.

There are ten articles in the special report including an interview with Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce by CNET Executive Editor Charles Cooper:

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Intel Interns Compete In A Hackathon for Mathematics

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 25, 2014



Interns across Intel campuses in Arizona, California and Oregon participated in a two-day hackathon weekend, where the theme was “code for good.” Interns were tasked with creating a game that was both fun to play and taught mathematics.

By Intel Free Press

Every summer, students from around the world take part in Intel’s highly sought after internship program, where students gain working experience at a major technology company and Intel taps into young, brilliant minds. It’s also an opportunity to learn about Intel through training and networking events that supplement actual project work.

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Multimedia Pioneer Marc Canter Launches ThingFace Venture For Authoring Mobile Apps

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 14, 2014

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Marc Canter on stage and screen at a panel moderated by Dan Farber at the Mac 30 Anniversary event in January 2014.

Marc Canter, a leading pioneer of multimedia technologies with his work at Macromedia 25 years ago, has launched ThingFace, a startup focused on authoring mobile apps across all major platforms.

Canter says he hopes to emulate the power and popularity of authoring tools he helped develop at Macromedia, which led to an explosion of creativity in producing interactive media. At the time, CR-ROM based media titles were the only way rich interactive media could be distributed and presented on a computer. San Francisco in the late 1980s and early 1990s was at the epicenter of CDROM multimedia development and Canter was its leading figure.


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Luca Penati Leaves Ogilvy Joins Weber Shandwick/Mediaco (EC=MC)

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 12, 2014

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Luca Penati (above), a former senior executive at Ogilvy has joined Weber Shandwick as General Manager of its San Francisco and Silicon Valley offices. He spent 9 years at Ogilvy, mostly as Global Managing Director of Ogilvy's technology practice. 

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Strike Social Interview: 'Silicon Valley VCs Don't understand Advertising'

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 11, 2014


I had an interesting conversation with Patrick McKenna (above), CEO and co-founder of Strike Social, a Los Angeles based startup that focuses on Youtube-based advertising by large brands.

The company is able to analyze a brand's YouTube channel and also identify other YouTube channels that are a good fit for the client. Its technology works exclusively with Google's TrueView metric and AdWords. Here are some notes from our conversation:

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Tata Drives STEM Growth Across Silicon Valley And US Schools

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 11, 2014

Tata Consulting Services (TCS), employing more than 300,000 IT consultants, is celebrating the sixth year of its goIT student technology awareness program, which tries to build early awareness of computing skills, on August 13th at Cherrywood Elementary School in San Jose.

The program has involved 7,000 students in Silicon Valley and in 10 additional US regions, a total of 35 school districts. Tata says that,

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There's No Free Lunch: Judge Halts $325m Settlement By Silicon Valley Giants With 64,000 Tech Workers As Too Small

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 11, 2014

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Facebook HQ - Mark Zuckerberg refused to take part in illegal scheme against tech workers.

Some of Silicon Valley's largest and most profitable companies are facing a serious setback in their attempt to finally settle a hugely embarrassing class action lawsuit alleging a conspiring to cap salary levels and limit job prospects for more than 64,000 tech workers.

Late Friday in San Jose, US District Judge Lucy Koh said the $324.5m settlement was too low given that the case against the plaintiffs had strengthened and that it was less than a $20m settlement paid by Lucasfilm, Intuit, and Pixar who were also part of the collusion. It would need to increase by at least $55m to $380m. The original suit asked for $3 billion in damages rising to $9bn under antitrust penalty laws.

Dan Levine at Reuters reported:

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A Nevada Developer Creates Fingerprint Wordpress Login

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 8, 2014

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I recently received this note from Pablo at Secsign Technologies... It looks like an interesting application especially for the enterprise market where security is a never ending battle. 

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Businessweek Defends Silicon Valley And Its 'Bro' Culture

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 7, 2014


There's a lot of backlash out there around Silicon Valley and I think it's largely because of the hypocrisy in techies claiming to be changing the world yet they can't change anything in the very places where they live.

Silicon Valley cities and schools face the same problems and high drop out rates that others face around the nation. What's the point of communities living with tech companies if there's little benefit? Twitter demands huge tax relief in one of the poorest neighborhoods in San Francisco. 

Silicon Valley's halitosis of hypocrisy stinks and it is becoming a laughing stock. Mike Judge's "Silicon Valley" on HBO is very funny — because it's very true.

Joel Stein at Businessweek comes to the defense of Silicon Valley and its predominately male techies in this month's cover story. However, he ends up reinforcing many negative perceptions of Silicon Valley rather than changing them. Here are some extracts:

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The Risks In Native Advertising Subterfuge: The Loss Of Brand Identity And Trust

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 7, 2014


A brand's identity is unique.

Native advertising has become the poster child of content marketing as companies try to raise awareness of their brands through promotional content that looks similar to the native content of a media site.

Where is their brand as differentiator? 

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Desperate Moves: NYTimes Reduces Labeling On Native Ads To Appease Brands

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 6, 2014


The New York Times has chosen the wrong path.

In another demonstration that the management of the New York Times doesn't understand the importance of its readers' trust in editorial content, it has reduced the labeling on paid editorial content.

The move is 180 degrees out of line with the findings of the largest survey of readers' attitudes to native advertising released last week by Edelman, the world's largest privately held PR company. Edelman's survey of 5,000 readers, recommended adding more labeling on native advertising, and it advised publishers to be careful because many readers said it adds no value to their experience.

 Michael Sebastian at Advertising Age, writes

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Cut-Price Coffee With Veteran Silicon Valley Exec Eric Schmidt

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 4, 2014

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Eric Schmidt, Google's former CEO and current chairman, is offering his time and a cup coffee to the winner of an auction organized by CharityBuzz, which will donate the proceeds to the Rush charity for disadvantaged youth.

Schmidt "is excited to show off the $2 billion digs in Chelsea. When asked about the auction, Schmidt said, "I look forward to hosting the auction winner at Google NYC!"" 

Last year, Tim Cook, CEO of Apple raised $610,000 for 30 minutes of his time. Warren Buffett cost the top bidder $156,000.

But his chosen charity might be a bit disappointed with Schmidt's auction. So far, he's raised only $10.5k from 6 bids, well below a target of $50K. But there's still a few days to go before the bidding ends August 14. 

His publicists are keen to point out his spontaneous generosity:

Schmidt is no stranger to giving back to great causes. Back in March he spontaneously selected 10 nonprofits to split a $1 million grant.

Forbes estimates his net worth at $9.1 billion.

Make Media: Bayview Tech And Arts Center Celebrates 10 Years

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 4, 2014

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Teaching media literacy means teaching how the media sausage is made. The tools are becoming so much cheaper but it doesn't mean they are within the reach of all. The Bayview Hunters Point Center for Arts & Technology (BAYCAT) has been providing access to media technologies and teaching people how to create media in one of the poorest communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. It's an extremely valuable skill for these times.

This Thursday it celebrates its ten year anniversary at an event that will showcase its work:

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The 49ers' 'Smart' Stadium Is Set For Kickoff

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 4, 2014


By Intel Free Press

Over three years in the making, Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara will be the new home of the San Francisco 49ers this fall. Before the very first kickoff, Major League Soccer club San Jose Earthquakes will host Seattle Sounders FC on August 2 as the first event at the new venue.

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Berkeley Memorial For Its 'Fearless Scientist' Alexander Shulgin - Psychedelic Drug Creator And Activist

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 1, 2014

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Saturday, August 2, there was a memorial service for Berkeley-born chemist Alexander Shulgin, who died recently aged 88. Mike Power, reporting for the Guardian newspaper (above) described his work as "fearless" because 

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AI Firm Genieo Acquired By Somoto For $34m

Posted by Tom Foremski - July 31, 2014

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Sol Tzvi is CEO and co-founder of Genieo

Genieo, an Israeli startup developing AI software for consumers, has been acquired by Somoto, a publicly traded software company specializing in toolbars for monetizing users' web browsing.

The deal is worth $34.12 million — $20m in cash and the rest in shares. Aviv Levy, reporting on Globes,

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InPowered's New Brand Promotion Tool Focuses On Trusted Experts, Not Influencers

Posted by Tom Foremski - July 29, 2014


Co-founders of InPowered: Peyman Nilforoush and Pirouz Nilforoush.

InPowered, an online platform designed to allow brands to promote stories about their products or services across a large number of web sites, has introduced a new ranking of writers that focuses on their expertise rather than their influence.

Brands are expected to use this information as in this example of an advert: "Read the #1 Toyota Expert on the new Toyota models." 

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Media Disruption Continues: 1300 Newsroom Jobs Lost in 2013

Posted by Tom Foremski - July 29, 2014

RobotPress  1 of 1The pool of working media professionals continues to shrink wth the loss of 1,300 newsroom jobs in 2013, reports the American Society of News Editors.

Rick Edmonds at Poynter, writes:

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Analysis: No 'Magic App' For Journalism As Omidyar's $250m First Look Venture Takes A Second Look

Posted by Tom Foremski - July 28, 2014

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Former Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi will launch a satirical online magazine for First Look Media.

Pierre Omidyar, the co-founder of eBay, has delayed the roll-out of his $250m First Look Media venture.

In a blog post, Omidyar wrote:

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The Risky Human In The Algorithmic Car

Posted by Tom Foremski - July 28, 2014

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MIT researcher Karl Iagnemma believes one of the biggest risks of self-driving cars is the Human-Machine Interface problem.

By Intel Free Press

Depending on where you get your news, the phrase “autonomous vehicle” can mean anything from a benign self-driving Prius to a sentient and rampaging four-wheeled Terminator. But this image of a machine may be rooted more in science fiction than science fact.

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Large Native Advertising Study Finds Benefits For Brands At The Expense Of Publishers

Posted by Tom Foremski - July 23, 2014

In one of the largest studies of people's attitudes towards native advertising, 62% said that it didn't help to enhance the reputation of news sites, but brands were seen to benefit from appearing on highly trusted media sites.

The study shows that media companies carry a far higher risk to their reputation and value perception in allowing native advertising than their brand advertisers. However, native advertising on business news, and entertainment news sites, was less problematic than on general news sites. 

In addition, six out of 10 people visiting general news sites said it was not clear if a brand had paid for the content.

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Intel On The Outside: The Chip King's Wearables Strategy

Posted by Tom Foremski - July 22, 2014

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Intel missed the mobile market but it is determined not to miss out on wearables. Mike Bell, Intel vice president and general manager of the company’s New Devices Group; and Jeff Holove, now a general manager in Bell’s New Devices Group  discuss Intel’s strategies.

By Intel Free Press

In March, Intel announced it had completed the acquisition of Basis Science Inc., a privately held company specializing in wearable device technologies for health and wellness. With major industry players like Apple, Google, Samsung, Intel and others racing to grab a share of the expected $8 billion wearables market by 2018, the Basis acquisition was viewed as a move that would help Intel accelerate its wearable focus. 

Q. What is Intel’s wearable strategy?

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NSA's Crypto-Kids - It's Never To Early To Start Recruitment

Posted by Tom Foremski - July 21, 2014

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The National Security Agency (NSA) has lots of computer power but what it needs the most is brain power. It's not too early to plan ahead. A friend gave me a copy of an activity book for kids published by the NSA. Here's a few pages:

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San Francisco's Extraordinary Media Heritage - 12 Daily Newspapers

Posted by Tom Foremski - July 21, 2014

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SF historian Gary Kamiya signing a copy of his book "Cool Gray City of Love."

San Francisco's transformation into a bedroom community for Silicon Valley's business parks is a huge mistake because tech companies should be exposing their people to the city's rich diversity and its incredible culture, a history steeped in more than 150 years of media innovations.

San Francisco historian Gary Kamiya, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, tells the story of San Francisco's early newspapers (and the passionate duels using the pen and the gun):

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The Media Industry Is Blind, Dumb And Dumber: The Great Media (Train) Robbery - Billions Missing

Posted by Tom Foremski - July 19, 2014

The media industry, including digital media companies, is breathtakingly silent on the issue of advertising fraud.

What other industry would sit quietly while being robbed in broad daylight on such a massive scale? As huge as $6 billion to an astounding $16 billion a year is being siphoned away from the media industry through fraudulent advertising methods.

Why isn't the media industry screaming mad about this?! Instead it is blind, dumb, and dumber about this issue.

The media industry needs to band together to stop ad fraud today. It should insist that its advertisers, the big brands, sign a pledge not to support ad fraud and only advertise on real media sites.

It's in the advertisers' interests to support a healthy independent media sector staffed by professionals producing quality content on which their ads will perform fabulously. It's a virtuous circle that keeps producing professional quality media.

But what we have instead, is a race to the bottom as quality of media goes down on falling ad revenues and advertising performance plunges. 

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What’s Driving Investor Interest in HR Services?

Posted by Tom Foremski - July 18, 2014

Editor's Note: Wall Street and VC investors seek out companies selling services in the human resources (HR) sector, as compliance with new legislation grows in complexity.

Guest column: By Burton Goldfield, CEO, TriNet.

If you look at the HR cloud market, you’ll find recent growing financial interest and investment in cloud-based, human capital management. Companies like TriNet, Paylocity, Workday and Paycom have all had recent IPOs, while ZenPayroll and Zenefits have received VC funding. Additionally, within the last two years Oracle and have acquired Internet-based HR software firms.

So, what fuels the recent interest in HR services companies?

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Coffee And Big Data With Ray Wang - Video Series

Posted by Tom Foremski - July 18, 2014

Ray Wang, principal analyst at Constellation Research, has a new video interview series sponsored by Actian, a "Big Data 2.0" company. I watched the latest one, an interview with Vibhor Rastogi from Intel Capital Group. What's the subject? Big data.

Here's the video:

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Forensiq: Tracking The Media Industry's Stolen Billions

Posted by Tom Foremski - July 16, 2014


An article from Ad Age about a recent campaign from video ad server firm Vindico.

I recently spoke with Forensiq an interesting startup based in New York that has technologies capable of shutting down advertising fraud — a huge problem for the media industry.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) trade body estimates ad fraud in 2013 to be at least $6 billion to $7 billion but it could be as high as $16 billion in the US. The Wall Street Journal reports that 35% of Internet traffic is bogus.

And no one is prosecuted.

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