Posts Tagged ‘silicon-valley’

5 Digital Shows Created by Grown-Ups

November 21, 2013  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Silicon Valley has a lot of things going for it: advancing technology, an attractive environment for whiz kids, a (weak) stab at meritocracy among its residents, gobs and gobs of cash. But as anybody who's ever worked in the arts will tell you, money cannot buy taste. Frequently it buys whatever the opposite of taste is . Thus, the learning curve has been incredibly steep for video companies desperate to produce the elusive "premium content" that will command the kind of money that TV advertising moves every season, or, in the case of subscriber-only services, the kind of buzz that generates subscribers to pay-TV networks. At first, video services seemed to believe that "premium" meant "not cat videos," but after wave after wave of unbearable vanity projects

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In Data-Speed Race, Who Is the Fastest in LTE?

November 13, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

As smartphone usage has surged, so has the demand for reliable, fast cellular data. Sure, your smartphone can use Wi-Fi to surf the Web, watch video, stream music and download documents. But Wi-Fi isn’t always available or costs extra in some public places. In the U.S., the fast cellular technology of choice is called 4G LTE. The 4G just means we’re on the fourth generation of cellular data systems and LTE stands for Long Term Evolution, which is the fastest and most consistent form of 4G cellular data. It’s the one that U.S. wireless carriers are competing to offer in as many cities as possible, as quickly as possible. Verizon Wireless got the jump on deploying LTE and I reported my first tests of its nascent service in January 2011. But now AT&T claims it has almost caught up, and Sprint and T-Mobile are racing to build out their LTE networks. So I decided to test the availability and speed of the four major U.S. carriers’ LTE coverage in three metro areas where I happened to be in the past month or so. I focused on download speeds because the average consumer is still downloading much more than uploading

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QOTD: Cracking Andreessen Up

November 1, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

The stories crack me up. There’s sort of two criticisms. One is that Silicon Valley is the new elite, the new one percent, the new oligarchy, and that all the billionaires don’t give a shit about society and [welcome a] Mad Max dystopian wasteland of no jobs [as] technology takes everything over. The other argument is that technology produces nothing of value; it’s all just Snapchat apps so 14-year-old girls can send selfies to each other. I have a hard time reconciling the two arguments. – Marc Andreessen , talking to Strictly VC

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Twitter to Wait Until After IPO to Name Woman — Likely With International Cred — to Board

October 28, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

According to sources close to the situation, Twitter is planning on waiting to name its first woman to its board until after its IPO, which is set to take place next week. The move makes some level of sense, mostly because it would be difficult to have any new board member join the San Francisco-based microblogging company now, given that person would have to sign off on the public offering with little knowledge of its details. Sources also added that while many are expecting Twitter to seek out a female director with media or tech experience — and there are many laudable candidates in both those areas — the company’s execs, especially CEO Dick Costolo, believe one with international expertise is more important. The reason is clear — Twitter is a global player and runs into thorny issues all over the world around the proliferation of its open service. You might imagine in the future, as it grows, that the company will face even more international conundrums that it will need a lot of mental heavy-lifting to work out. While the board had put former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the top of its overall list, she has not been contacted about joining as a director. She’s also likely to be not available either, especially given she is expected to run for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States in the 2016 election. ( Sorry, but she’s busy, boys! While Twitter chairman and co-founder Jack Dorsey will be bummed, most there actually considered her a very long shot.) The number of women with international experience is also long. But if I were to bet whom Twitter is considering for its top picks, I would name only two: Condoleezza Rice and Madeleine Albright. Albright, among her many diplomatic roles, was the first woman to become the Secretary of State, named in the Clinton administration. She is now an international relations professor at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service (disclosure: I went there) and also is chairman of the Albright Stonebridge Group, a global strategy firm

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eBay Made Two Giant Bets Yesterday, but Only One Feels Right So Far

October 23, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

EBay has been nothing if not aggressive recently, with its agreement to buy Braintree for $800 million and its efforts to grab payment market share in brick-and-mortar stores. It continued that aggressive streak on Tuesday with two big announcements. Let’s start with what seems like a smart move. The Silicon Valley e-commerce giant is acquiring Shutl, a U.K.-based company that links retailers with a network of courier services in real time to make same-day delivery of goods possible. EBay is not revealing the acquisition price. That typically means it was less than $100 million, the company’s threshold for having to disclose acquisition prices publicly. The deal makes sense for Shutl because, while it has a strong presence in the U.K., it is not a known brand here in the U.S. The eBay name immediately helps solve the brand-awareness issue. For eBay, it would have been extremely challenging to quickly expand its eBay Now same-day-delivery shopping service to more than a few markets without some expertise in wrangling local courier services. The eBay Now service consists of a website and mobile app that let users shop from partnering retailers such as Home Depot, Walgreens and Macy’s and get deliveries in around an hour, usually for $5. Up to now, eBay had hired its own couriers, but it will now be able to use Shutl to more easily work with third-party delivery services, resulting in a more scalable model that will allow it to expand the service to 25 cities by the end of 2014, the company said. At the same time, the eBay announcement that got top billing today by the company is the one that has the feel of a potential flop in the making. It starts with a homepage product called eBay Today that packages items for sale into image-centric, thematically organized “collections.” Those collections are said to be assembled by a list of 200 “curators,” only a few of whom will be widely known to most people. EBay Today is the default homepage greeting for visitors who don’t have eBay accounts or aren’t logged in. That’s a big deal: It will be the first impression the site gives to potential new customers. The problem with this approach is twofold. First, the Web is littered with failed attempts at building social commerce experiences around celebrities. There’s no reason to believe that eBay’s take on the model will have a different result. Secondly, “curation” might be the single most abused phrase in e-commerce right now.

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Where Do Startups Shop for Financial Talent? eBay.

October 22, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Meet the eBay Mafia. That is the tongue-in-cheek name for the at least 20 executives who have become chief financial officers in Silicon Valley and beyond over the past three years after training in the big e-commerce company’s finance department. Many of these eBay Inc. alumni stay in touch with one another, regularly sharing tips about the growing pains of startups and initial public offerings, while waxing nostalgic over a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon at a trendy San Francisco restaurant. Read the rest of this post on the original site »

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Mark Zuckerberg Becomes a Landlord

October 11, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Irony of ironies: Mark Zuckerberg is going above and beyond to keep his privacy in check. As the San Jose Mercury News first reported , Zuckerberg purchased a series of houses near his own Palo Alto home earlier this year. Apparently, Zuckerberg isn’t going to build a mansion for himself with his new property. According to the Merc, he plans to continue leasing the homes to the existing tenants — essentially characterizing it as a defensive play against an opportunistic land developer. Indeed, according to real estate records, in December of last year, the home directly behind Zuckerberg’s was sold to an LLC associated with Iconiq Capital, a San Francisco firm that handles financial accounts for many Silicon Valley luminaries — including Zuckerberg and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. A source familiar with the transaction also confirmed the accuracy of the Merc’s report. Zuckerberg paid a reported $30 million-plus premium for the four properties combined, the Merc said. Despite the ridiculous prices he paid, I don’t particularly fault the famous founder for wanting his personal privacy in his own neighborhood, especially considering that he has one of the most famous faces in the world. I imagine, too, it would feel rather invasive if potential new next-door neighbors moved into their houses based on the fact that Zuckerberg would be nearby. That is to say, if that “defensive play” line is the whole story. Facebook representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Actually, the Pool Is Quite Deep

October 9, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

“Dick Costolo, Twitter’s chief executive, has prioritized finding a woman to be on the board, but has found it difficult.” “The issue isn’t the intention, the issue is just the paucity of candidates.” “… the pool for board-qualified women in technology is shallow …” “There is definitely a supply-side problem.” So asserts Twitter’s Chief Technology Officer, Adam Messinger when asked about women on boards … – New York Times, October 5, 2013 Wow. Where to begin? Let’s start with a fact: There are fewer women then men who write and debug software code for a living. No denying that. Now an observation: Having been in many, many board meetings over the years as a director, and other times as an adviser, I have never, not even once, been in a meeting where at any time, even for five minutes, any board member of any gender was asked to give a company directive in machine language, scratch out a decision policy in Ruby on Rails or, for that matter, code anything at all in any language. Image copyright hxdbzxy Most of the meetings I have attended have called on board members to ask questions, make introductions, discuss potential acquisitions or acquisition inquiries and, most importantly, to debate and discuss product strategies, marketing plans, management challenges, compensation structures, financial progress, financing options, investment decisions, how to deal with Wall Street and short- and long-term business goals. None of these topics requires a CS degree or years in the CTO’s office. Tech companies may well choose to have some engineering prowess on the board, but companies with nothing but technical directors will, in all likelihood, lose out to companies strategically advised by those with a diverse set of opinions, perspectives and experiences. The problem isn’t a “shallow pool” of qualified candidates; it’s a dearth of high-profile individuals with the right skill set. The real question is how many companies are building boards to provide actual advice versus how many are looking to put impressive, “A-list” names on a list. Sure, it would help any organization to have Marissa or Sheryl on the board, but as genuinely gifted as those two leaders are, they are not the only females in the Valley with demonstrable talent for thinking strategically, solving problems creatively, analyzing financial performance, negotiating terms and perhaps most importantly, assessing management skills

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Sequoia Capital Values Skyscanner at $800 Million in Mobile Travel Search Deal

October 3, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

The worldwide use of mobile devices to search for flights, hotels and other travel information is growing, and Sequoia Capital is betting on one mobile app maker to become the leader in the sector. The Silicon Valley venture firm has made one of its largest equity investments ever, acquiring shares of Skyscanner Ltd. in a deal that values the Scotland-based company at $800 million. Read the rest of this post on the original site »

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Meet the NSA’s Own Social Graphs, Comprised of Americans’ Data

September 28, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

The hottest, stealthiest social network won’t be found in any Silicon Valley incubator. It’s up and running. And you may already be a member. In an effort spanning the past three years, the United States National Security Agency has mined its massive stores of collected citizen metadata to create a series of social graphs, according to documents and confidential sources unearthed by the New York Times , mapping the large, interconnected web of connections between people. The graphs — which the Times claims details specifics as granular as citizens’ locations at certain times, personal connections with others, and traveling companions — were created piecemeal from vast public data stores, including (but not limited to) Facebook profiles, voter registration records, tax data and property records. The NSA acknowledged the program in a statement to the Times, but declined to state the number of Americans involved. Any data queries are required to have some sort of “foreign intelligence justification,” an NSA spokeswoman told the Times. The report is the latest in a series of revelations on the scale and depth of U.S. surveillance efforts, kick-started by the bombshell disclosures of former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden over the summer. Since Snowden’s disclosures, Silicon Valley Internet companies have issued vehement denials that the U.S. government had carte blanche access to customer data. The extent to which companies can explain how much data has been handed over to the government is limited, however, as current laws prohibit companies from disclosing certain details related to national security. It is unclear how much the NSA’s graphing efforts rely on data from Facebook, Apple, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft or any other number of Internet companies that have complied with the government’s requests for private data. Read more of the Times’ in-depth account here .

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