Posts Tagged ‘people’

The NSA and the Corrosion of Silicon Valley

December 30, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

I believe that the people who work at the NSA are patriots. They devote their considerable intellects to preserve, protect, and defend the people of the United States. I wish their patriotism + brainpower would do the same for the U.S. Constitution. But those issues are getting plenty of ink elsewhere. My concern is more personal and local: The NSA’s version of patriotism is corroding Silicon Valley. Integrity of our products, creative freedom of talented people, and trust with our users are the casualties. The dolphin in the tuna net is us — our industry, our work, and the social fabric of our community. Product integrity is doomed when the NSA involves itself in the product development process. The scope of NSA’s activity here is unknowable

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Bulk-SMS App Maker Bazuc Responds to Lookout’s Claims, Says Consumers Should Pay Attention to Risks

December 20, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

The maker of an app that Lookout has branded as a security threat contends that it is offering a potentially lucrative, if risky, business opportunity to consumers. Bazuc distributes an Android app that when installed sends SMS messages through a user’s phone, with Bazuc promising to pay users a tenth of a penny for each message sent. After spending a month researching Bazuc.net and its apps, Lookout on Thursday warned that the app poses a significant threat to users, including the potential for angry phone calls and seeing their phone service disconnected for violating the terms of their contracts. Lookout said it would warn users of its security software who have the app installed, and also said it was reaching out to carriers and other companies that it believes may have a problem with what Bazuc is doing. In an email, Bazuc creator Richard Loomis confirmed some things that Lookout said, but took issue with others, and insists that it details many of the potential risks on its website. “Yes, there are risks involved for the app users, which are very clearly posted in a very large font on both the website and inside the app itself,” Loomis said in an email to AllThingsD

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Target Hit by Credit-Card Breach

December 18, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Target Corp. was hit by an extensive theft of its customers’ credit card data over the key Black Friday weekend, people familiar with the matter said, in what appears to be a brazen breach of a major retailer’s information security. The theft happened in stores, not online, the people said. It may have been the result of software installed at the machines customers use to swipe their cards when paying for their purchases, one of the people said. Read the rest of this post on the original site »

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Sprint Preparing a Bid for T-Mobile US

December 13, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Sprint is working toward a possible bid for rival T-Mobile US people familiar with the matter said, setting the stage for a giant telecom merger that if permitted by regulators would leave the U.S. wireless market dominated by three big companies. Sprint is studying regulatory concerns and could launch a bid in the first half of next year, the people said. A deal could be worth more than $20 billion, depending on the size of any stake in T-Mobile that Sprint tries to buy. Read the rest of this post on the original site »

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N3twork Wants to Reshape Online Discussions Around Interests

December 12, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Online forums today look like throwbacks to the Web of the 1990s. Lots of text, lots of page breaks, lots of hard-to-follow conversations. Meanwhile, more modern social media conversations on Twitter and Facebook spring up around hashtags, but they aren’t organized. You can see if a topic is trending, but Twitter offers only basic tools for curating tweets . A product called N3twork wants to be the new center for those conversations. It’s a daunting task to try to attract the people of the Internet to leave wherever they are and have their conversations on your own property. But the people behind N3twork hope people will be attracted to it because it is built expressly for mobile, and it is highly visual. Today’s active, general-purpose discussion sites, like Reddit and Wikia, are lacking on both those fronts, said N3twork CEO Neil Young in an interview at the company’s San Francisco office. “They aren’t visual. They aren’t well-integrated on the devices we have in our pockets all the time. And they have segmented audiences,” Young said. That’s the other things about N3twork — it creates personalized feeds of activity around every topic a user is interested in, so they don’t have to click around to visit each page or discussion. This is done by users following hashtags, which are the central element of the service. Users are invited to create posts that are collages of content, including Web pages, photos and videos. N3twork has a nifty trick where it captures a preview of a video and plays it silently and automatically, so the content looks alive as you scroll. But there are a couple of big challenges in launching a tool such as this. One: How are you going to get people to join and care about something, when it’s quite so broad? And two, how are you going to avoid the inevitable problem of people spamming feeds by posting over and over to various hashtags? As for the first, Young said that his experience building games at Ngmoco (which was bought by DeNA for $400 million in 2010 ) taught him and his team how to build things that grow and get people engaged.

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Strava CEO Steps Down, and Former CEO Returns, but Not for the Usual Reasons

December 10, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Strava , the endurance-sports app maker, is going through a leadership change. CEO Michael Horvath will publicly announce today that he is stepping down for family reasons, and former CEO and board chairman Mark Gainey is returning to the top role. Horvath will become president and chairman of the board. But this is not the normal smoothed-over executive battle. Horvath plans to post that the reason he is leaving is because his wife Anna has cancer, actually for a third time. Earlier this fall, she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in her liver that can be managed for an unknown amount of time. To complicate matters, Horvath has been splitting time for years between Hanover, N.H., where his family lives, and San Francisco, where Strava is based. So he is stepping back in order to be at home with Anna. Horvath said they agreed to talk about it publicly in the hope that other people will benefit from their openness. The other unusual part of this story is that Gainey is ready and waiting to take over from Horvath in what appears to be the smoothest of ways. The two men are longtime best friends — they rowed crew together at Harvard, and started their first company together in 1995. (It was actually originally supposed to be a “virtual locker room,” a la a ’90s version of Strava, but turned into the still-extant customer-communication company Kana .) The two men co-founded Strava in 2009, and Gainey stepped down as CEO in 2010, coincidentally due to a family issue of his own, he said

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Simulmedia’s Investors Bet $25 Million More on Smart TV Ads (Video)

December 10, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Dave Morgan’s pitch is simple, and counter-intuitive: There’s going to be a boom in video ads – and it’s going to happen on TV. The Simulmedia CEO  doesn’t mean that the TV Industrial Complex is  going away (and  you would miss it if it did ). Instead, he predicts, advertisers and programmers are going to get savvier about the way TV ads work, and will start using the same data and mechanics that power Web ads. And since TV ads are going to be a much bigger business than Web video ads , for a quite some time, he wants his company to be in the middle of that. Morgan has been making some version of this pitch for several years now , and he admits that the future isn’t here quite yet. But investors keep betting on the thesis, and him. Simulmedia has just closed a $25 million round, led by Valiant Capital and R&R Ventures, bringing its total raised in 5 years to $58 million. Until now Simulmedia has been making money by buying leftover airtime from programmers and pay TV providers, adding in a dollop of data about who’s actually watching the stuff, and reselling it to advertisers. Now it wants to use some of the new funding to build out a platform so other people can use to do the same thing. Morgan’s idea is that networks may want to apply advanced analytics to their prime ad inventory, but won’t want outsiders like Simulmedia inserting themselves as middlemen. So he’ll sell them the tech instead. You can hear him explain his plan in his own words at the bottom of this post. But one quick detour first. I don’t usually spend time talking about the people behind the money in funding stories but I’ll make a brief exception here, because they’re interesting. So: Valiant is a hedge fund run by Chris Hansen, which normally makes big bets in late stage Web companies like Facebook, Dropbox, Pinterest and Uber; you may also have heard of Hansen because he’s the guy who nearly bought the Sacramento Kings and moved them to Seattle earlier this year. Hansen used to be an analyst at Montgomery/ Banc of America, the bank that almost took Real Media, Morgan’s first company, public, back in the first boom. And R&R Ventures is a new fund run by former Time Warner CEO Dick Parsons and media investor Ron Lauder. Earlier investors including Time Warner, Avalon Ventures, Union Square Ventures, and Allen & Co. are all back in this round as well.

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Dell Tablets at Bargain Prices

December 4, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

If you’re thinking of getting someone a new, name-brand tablet for the holidays, but blanch at spending base prices of $229, $399 or $499, Dell is hoping you’ll look its way. The computer giant, battling an industrywide slump in PC sales, is once again making a push into tablets and one of its weapons is low pricing. Dell has had little success in tablets. But it introduced this fall a family of four Android- and Windows-based slates called Venue models. I took a close look at one model, the seven-inch Venue 7, which, at $150, is the least expensive new major-label tablet I’ve seen at the standard 16-gigabyte base memory level. (There are a few year-old models, or models with less memory that cost somewhat less.) To understand how low $150 is for a name-brand, 16GB tablet, consider that the market-leading Apple iPads start at $499 for the 9.7-inch iPad Air, and $399 for the iPad Mini with a 7.9-inch Retina display. Even the latest seven-inch models from Google and Amazon, known for aggressive pricing, start at $229. In fact, mostly because they adopted better screens, the 2013 models of the iPad Mini, Google Nexus 7 and top-of-the-line seven-inch Kindle Fire actually rose in price from the 2012 models. So, what exactly do you get from a $150 name-brand tablet? The answer: You get a lower-quality device with weak battery life, which might suffice for a first-time tablet buyer with a tight budget. The Venue 7 is a relatively chunky black plastic tablet running Google’s Android operating system, that’s available via Dell’s online store. It operates over Wi-Fi only, though a cellular version is planned for next year. It cannot be ordered with more internal memory than 16GB, but it has a slot for a memory expansion card. This tablet has a big brother, the Android-powered Venue 8, with similar specs, that starts at $180, still a good price. On the plus side, I found the Dell Venue 7 to be fast enough not to be annoying. Common apps like Gmail, the Chrome browser, the Kindle reading app, Google Maps, Twitter and Facebook all worked fine for me. Videos played smoothly. But buyers of this tablet aren’t getting the latest or best technology. The processor, an Intel Atom, and the version of Android used, Jelly Bean 4.2.2, are last-generation editions, though Dell says it hopes to offer an upgrade to the latest version of Android next year

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Adult Swim Crashes a Spaceship in NYC for New Show Rick and Morty

December 2, 2013  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

If you were wandering aimlessly around Manhattan last week, you probably saw lampposts with a flier showing a cheap, grainy-looking photo of a spaceship and little perforated "take one" pull tabs at the bottom telling you to go to 23rd Street and Broadway to buy a slightly used spaceship. When you got there, the perceptive among you may have noticed the spaceship, which appeared to have crashed into the ground next to the Flatiron Building, with cartoon characters Rick and Morty from the new Adult Swim show (titled, cleverly, Rick and Morty) hanging around. (Well, actually, they were statues. Morty was still inside, and Rick was on a bench taking a slug from a bottle of XXX.) The installation is pretty impressive—they even mangled some chairs that look like the furniture that sits in the public area around the building and put together foam bricks that look exactly like chunks of the tan pavement. The network's campaign for the show has been an elaborate one—there's an ad on Craigslist for the spaceship, too, as well as normal(ish) posters for the show around town. The network also posted the first 22-minute episode of the show, which premieres Monday night at 10:30 p.m., on YouTube. You can check it out below, along with the network's own time-lapse video of its spaceship assemblage. And we've got an interview with co-creator Dan Harmon here. Here's a snippet we had to cut to make the interview fit in the magazine, but is still pretty cool: "It's very much like Doctor Who and Ford Prefect in Hitchhiker's Guide, and Willy Wonka," Harmon said when we asked him why he liked crazy, antisocial characters like Rick. "They just don't have time to interface with the people around them in a way that makes anybody comfortable. I think the answer over time is that you'll come to believe that he's a real person. I think even by the end of these first 10 episodes, we've figured out that the more hours you log with this guy, he never really jumps the shark in terms of revealing that he loves all the people around him, or crying and saying 'Oh, it's so hard to be this big a prick,' but you get it, or you get that you don't get it. It made me so excited that this character could possibly live for a long time." You can check out the clip below to see how insane Rick is, or stop by the Flatiron to say hi until the end of today.

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Showrunner Dan Harmon Discusses His New Animated Series

December 2, 2013  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Specs Who Dan Harmon Age 40 New gig Creator/showrunner of Rick and Morty on Adult Swim. Also on Season 5 of Community. Old gig Creator/showrunner of Community, from which he was fired after three seasons. So how did Rick and Morty, your new animated original series, begin? Justin [Roiland , co-creator] had always been sort of playing around with these very intense, strange characters. They started off as a kind of punk rock, sneering immolation of a relationship we all grew up on, which is the one between Doc Brown and Marty McFly , and they kind of evolved from there. I think there was something about this insane, sociopathic, gruff character who keeps burping while he’s talking and this kid who keeps asking these questions, the answers to which are, “I don’t have time to answer that question.” Like everything on Adult Swim , Rick and Morty has a really distinctive look. How much input do you have into that? If somebody puts something in front of me and asks for an opinion, I’ll give them one, but I’m not the person whose eyeball one should be deferring to, especially not with Justin. If he says, “Well, I want there to be a giant testicle monster with testicles hanging off of it, and it has a vagina in the middle of it,” what I can provide is, “OK, what kind of story might make use of that? Does the testicle monster come in on page one, and what are we learning on page five?” It’s kind of dark, man. It’s from the opposite corner to Community —the character who makes everything happen is a scientist and an ingenious one, who, like a lot of smart people, is burdened with the knowledge that a lot of what you think matters doesn’t matter. He knows that there are different timelines, and that there’s a universe where Hitler won World War II, and just as many as there are where Hitler lost World War II. But the stories are specifically different from Community stories. Community starts with the idea that we are all people and part of some family, and usually the call to adventure is the insinuation that there’s a system or ideology that’s more important than people, and it causes chaos.

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