Posts Tagged ‘technology’

Clear Channel CEO Bob Pittman Says Don’t Follow the Digital Hype

November 11, 2013  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

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Google’s Chief Business Officer Says It’s Time to Invent What’s Next

November 11, 2013  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

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Leo Burnett Creative Chief Susan Credle Has the Most Important Question for Your Brand

November 11, 2013  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

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Michelle Trachtenberg Is Well Prepared for Her Role as Marina Oswald

November 8, 2013  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

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Is Apple Set to Take on TV?

October 29, 2013  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Tim Cook hinted today that Apple is well positioned to take over the TV. Speaking during an earnings call with Wall Street analysts, who asked what new product categories Apple would step into in 2014, Cook advised them to think about what the company already does well: Hardware, software services and its app ecosystem. No one else has a set of skills like these, Cook said, and Apple would use those unique skills to push into new product categories. He didn’t name TV explicitly, but his description sounded like a recipe for the television of the future. It also would match the expertise needed for a smartwatch or even a gaming console. "If you look at the skills Apple has, from hardware to software to services and an incredible app ecosystem, this set of things are very very unique," Cook said

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Stationary Startup Minted Raises $41M for Larger Crowdsourced Design Push

October 16, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

A few years ago an unknown designer from Galena, Ohio asked for feedback on a wedding invitation design on the crowdsourced design site Minted that had fireflies flying out of three Mason jars. Minted commenters helped strip the design down to a perfectly twee finished product with a single jar, which was posted on the site. Paige Rothhaar’s “ Fireflies ” has now sold more than a million dollars worth of print-on-demand stationary on Minted. The designer won a cash prize on Minted and continues to receive at least six percent of retail sales. “On the right substrate, the combination of medium and design are magical,” says Mariam Naficy, founder and CEO of Minted. Naficy has just raised $41 million in Series C financing for Minted led by Technology Crossover Ventures and including Allen & Company and Benchmark Capital. Minted is also backed by some 37 angel investors including Kevin and Julia Hartz, Jeremy Stoppelman and Marissa Mayer. San Francisco-based Minted has “substantial eight figures of revenue” (meaning tens of millions), growing more than than 100 percent per year, and is cash-flow positive, Naficy said. Minted founder and CEO Mariam Naficy After six years on $11 million in funding and with 115 employees, “Once we started researching how much we had underfunded the company, we realized we had a much bigger opportunity,” Naficy said. Minted has started expanding into products that aren’t printed on paper, like party favors, and Naficy’s goal is for the site to become a broader crowdsourced design marketplace. This week Minted announced its first retail partnership, a selection of wall art to be sold at West Elm. Who uses Minted? Brides and moms. Naficy won’t give an actual customer number, but said Minted cards have so far been received in 29 million households. Of 5,000 designers, 98 percent are women and 40 percent are mothers. “We see lots of submissions at 1 a.m. and 2 a.m.,” Naficy said. “And I, being a mom myself, am right there with them.” “This is blurring the line between a lay person with a great hobby and professional,” Naficy said, pointing to other crowdsourced design businesses like Threadless, Quirky and 99designs

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Utah’s Startup Scene Is Almost as Spectacular as Its Fall Scenery

October 11, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

This week, I’ve been in Park City, Utah, attending the Venture Capital in the Rockies Fall conference . Basically it’s a gathering of VCs based in the intermountain west and early-stage startup companies on the hunt for investors. As you can see from the image I snapped with my iPhone on the day of my arrival, the fall foliage makes for a pretty awesome view, and the cold crisp air — it even snowed briefly yesterday — has an infectious quality to it. But there’s more to the place than pretty pictures. There’s a fairly active tech startup scene here. I sat through several presentations yesterday from some companies with cool ideas that are just getting off the ground. Here’s a few that caught my attention. Storyvine: This two-person startup based in Boulder, Colo. aims to make producing high-quality videos easier and cheaper than ever before. It walks you through the process of shooting and editing a video in a way that comes out more polished and thoughtful. Computing giant IBM is an early client. Founder Kyle Shannon started the interactive marketing firm Agency.com back in the 1990s, took it public and later sold it to Omnicom. Monique Elwell is longtime Wall Street analyst. Cypher: If you’ve ever tried to take a call on your mobile phone in a noisy environment, like a restaurant or on a busy street, you’re going to want Cypher technology on your phone. It has developed a technology to isolate the sound of your voice, mute the background noise you don’t want to hear. The result is a clearer call.

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Interoperability and Openness: Why an Open Cloud Is the Only Cloud for the Future

October 10, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Image copyright Ivo Pregelj Enterprise attitudes toward the cloud are changing; there is no doubt about that. Taking a look at Gartner’s recent cloud projections for the current $130bn industry, the largest growth areas in enterprise cloud spending are for Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and cloud management and security, all critical business operations. Larger organizations are now prepared to utilize the cloud for far more than simply hosting email or non-critical applications, and it’s a sign that the cloud is coming of age. Despite the trend toward cloud adoption, there is still debate around exactly what form it will take. One of the key reasons for moving to cloud infrastructure is the promise of agility that clouds are known to provide. Agility requires flexibility and so smart organizations are looking for cloud technologies that are going to give the greatest range of options. This is partly in response to the early days of cloud being dominated by largely closed, proprietary systems which could restrict the users both at a technical and a commercial level. Now, with more critical workloads moving to the cloud, organizations can’t feel comfortable entrusting their operations to a single vendor that potentially won’t meet all their needs for scalability, cost and other key factors. In fact, data and application portability are arguably more important to today’s enterprise than any specific technology, and, if organizations can’t move workloads in and out of clouds at will, they won’t want to use them. Further, as organizations of all stripes juggle more and more data volumes and rely on increasingly complex applications, the rate at which they must adopt new IT infrastructure components is becoming exponential. Enterprises with diverse and rapidly evolving technology needs can’t settle for a closed cloud deployment characterized by excessive vendor lock-in. Rather, they need a flexible model where cloud components from various vendors are highly interoperable, meaning they can work together seamlessly, so that best-of-breed solutions can be combined in a way that builds a cloud tailored to the organization’s unique business model. Open source technologies are particularly valuable here because of their customizability and relatively high compatibility with other solutions. An uptick in interoperability and openness among cloud vendors will ensure that vendor lock-in and closed ecosystems don’t strangle all the best business benefits out of the cloud: Cost efficiency, scalability, accessibility, reliability, etc. Additionally, interoperability supports the growing momentum of hybrid cloud strategies, which utilize any number of private and public cloud components that must be efficiently connected. These are all reasons why highly interoperable “open cloud” models, epitomized by the open source cloud platform OpenStack , are rapidly gaining ground among the myriad of startups, enterprises, telcos and service providers entering the cloud market today. It’s Not Public vs. Private Anymore In many ways, the shift to open clouds is intertwined with the shift to hybrid clouds. There has been much debate over whether private or public clouds will gain mainstream enterprise adoption, but it’s becoming clear that hybrid strategies utilizing both public and private clouds are, basically, the future.

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Square Competitor Leaf Scores $20 Million Investment From Payments Giant Heartland

September 30, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Leaf CEO Aron Schwarzkopf For a while, it wasn’t clear how payments startup Leaf would get the distribution it needed to compete against Square and others trying to reinvent point-of-sale technologies for small and medium-size businesses. Just this summer, CEO Aron Schwarzkopf said in an interview that his young company had signed on fewer than 1,000 customers. Now we have an answer. The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based startup has raised a $20 million strategic investment from Heartland Payment Systems, a publicly traded payments processing company that does $2 billion in revenue annually. Heartland isn’t Starbucks, the glitzy partner of Square, but it has a huge and valuable base of small-business customers to which it can introduce the Leaf system. Like Square, Leaf makes software that helps small businesses sort, track and analyze their in-store transactions and access that information anywhere from the cloud. But unlike Square and others, Leaf actually makes and sells its own tablet that runs on a custom version of Android so it can control the experience that the merchant gets end-to-end. Yet despite wanting to own how the hardware and software interact, Leaf is attempting to build an open platform that others can build apps on top of. Leaf doesn’t actually process payments and lets its customers choose from several payment processors, including Heartland and some of its competitors. But Heartland CEO Bob Carr said he is a fan of the open approach. “We have done some work in POS before … but it’s not the most modern architecture so we began looking around at good platforms that were consistent with our architecture,” Carr said in an interview. “We looked at many, many competitors of Leaf and felt like Leaf had the best architecture and most importantly had a shared philosophy where they have a platform that allowed merchants to do business with any number of vendors, and some of our competitors, so merchants could get exactly what they wanted.” Earlier this year, before the investment, Heartland signed on as a reseller of the Leaf system. With the investment, Heartland will have even more incentive to sell the system and, if things go well, the company plans to ultimately retire its own point-of-sale product and recommend that its customers switch over to Leaf. For that product handoff to take place, Leaf will have to expand its capabilities to serve different kinds of categories. Right now it is popular with companies that conduct business at a counter, such as cafes and small retail shops. Yet the category of business that is top of mind for Heartland is table-service restaurants, of which Heartland counts more than 60,000 in the U.S. as customers. If Leaf can build the technology to support such businesses, Heartland will feel comfortable recommending the Leaf system to those customers. Carr said that Heartland is also working to integrate some of its payroll technologies into the Leaf POS system

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Intel Looking for Help from Amazon or Samsung to Keep Its Web TV Project Alive

September 26, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Erik Huggers Intel executives, who have promised to launch a Web-based pay TV service by the end of 2013, are now looking for a strategic backer to help them fund and distribute the service. If they don’t find one soon, it’s possible the project will be scrapped. People familiar with Intel’s plans said the company has been talking to both Amazon and Samsung in the hope of keeping the service afloat. Executives from Amazon and Intel declined to comment; I’m waiting to hear back from Samsung reps. In February, Intel executive Erik Huggers said he planned to start selling an “over the top” pay TV service that would contain a full compliment of broadcast and cable TV networks, by the end of the year. Other technology players, including Google, Apple and Sony, have pondered a similar service, though none of them have publicly committed to the idea. But Intel has yet to finalize a deal with a major TV programmer. And new CEO Brian Krzanich, who took over the company in May, has made a point of striking a tentative tone when discussing Intel’s TV ambitions .

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