Thursday, January 29, 2015

Microsoft OneDrive adds super-intelligent searching of document text, photos | PCWorld

See this OneDrive Blog post for details

"Microsoft just made it easier to upload more photos and files to its OneDrive cloud service. But, perhaps more importantly, it’s also now easier to find these uploads again.

Specifically, OneDrive now intelligently “reads” your documents and photos—and even parses photos of text you’ve snapped—allowing you to search for text strings hidden inside both Word files and images. It’s just one of several new tools, along with a new Albums feature, that Microsoft added to its OneDrive Web app and iPad apps on Wednesday morning."
Microsoft OneDrive adds super-intelligent searching of document text, photos | PCWorld

Discuss: Tim Cook Is A Way Better CEO Than Steve Jobs Was (ValleyWag)

Excerpt from a Dan Lyons Apple snapshot

"When Cook took over in 2011, most people figured Apple would lose some of its magic. In a way that's true. Apple is less interesting without Steve Jobs. Its events are not as exciting. Cook doesn't have the cult leader charisma that Jobs possessed.

But holy crap can this guy make money. Apple generated nearly $75 billion in revenue last quarter, and kept $18 billion in net profit. Apple now has $178 billion in cash, enough to buy a lot of huge companies, like Intel, outright."
Discuss: Tim Cook Is A Way Better CEO Than Steve Jobs Was

Bill Gates Worries About Machines Gaining Super Intelligence | Re/code

Tangentially, see The Deep Mind of Demis Hassabis (Medium Backchannel) for some details about Google's AI ethics board

"Even the father of the mainstream personal computer is worried that machines might one day get too smart.

“I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence,” Bill Gates said during an “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit. “First, the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that, though, the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don’t understand why some people are not concerned.”"
Bill Gates Worries About Machines Gaining Super Intelligence | Re/code

Microsoft Brings Outlook to iPhone and Android | Re/code

Later in the article: "In addition to Microsoft’s own e-mail services, Outlook will support Yahoo, iCloud and Gmail accounts as well as supporting files from online storage companies such as Google, Box and Dropbox."

"Microsoft has planned new mobile versions of Outlook that make use of the technology it acquired in last year’s $200 million purchase of email startup Accompli.

The company on Thursday is releasing an iOS version of Outlook and a preview version of Outlook for Android, both of which use Accompli’s tech as well as a fairly significant amount of work by the team over the last 60 days. The biggest changes include customizable options, according to Javier Soltero, the former Accompli CEO who is now a general manager on Microsoft’s Office team."
Microsoft Brings Outlook to iPhone and Android | Re/code

Netflix’s Secret Special Algorithm Is a Human - The New Yorker

Speculation about the limits of data-driven decision making

"[...] In short, I do think that there is a sophisticated algorithm at work here—but I think his name is Ted Sarandos.

I presented Sarandos with this theory at a Sundance panel called “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Trust the Algorithm,” moderated by Jason Hirschhorn, formerly of MySpace. Sarandos, very agreeably, wobbled a bit. “It is important to know which data to ignore,” he conceded, before saying, at the end, “In practice, its probably a seventy-thirty mix.” But which is the seventy and which is the thirty? “Seventy is the data, and thirty is judgment,” he told me later. Then he paused, and said, “But the thirty needs to be on top, if that makes sense.”"
Netflix’s Secret Special Algorithm Is a Human - The New Yorker

Why Amazon Is Getting Into Business E-Mail - Bloomberg Business

Check this Amazon page for more WorkMail details; I suspect IBM would disagree with the "only two major competitors" (Microsoft and Google) assertion

"“You’re coming into a very established place with only two major competitors,” said David Mitchell Smith of market research firm Gartner. “They’re not coming in at the leadership position, that’s for sure.” 
That has never stopped Amazon before. And in a time when hacking and security issues are a growing concern in the business world, a new service with an express emphasis on privacy could make a dent in the e-mail game while bringing more customers into the Amazon fold.
The only surprise here is why it took Amazon so long."
Why Amazon Is Getting Into Business E-Mail - Bloomberg Business

Uber’s Business Model Could Change Your Work - NYTimes.com

"Sharing economy" optimization implications
"Uberization will have its benefits: Technology could make your work life more flexible, allowing you to fit your job, or perhaps multiple jobs, around your schedule, rather than vice versa. Even during a time of renewed job growth, Americans’ wages are stubbornly stagnant, and the on-demand economy may provide novel streams of income.
“We may end up with a future in which a fraction of the work force would do a portfolio of things to generate an income — you could be an Uber driver, an Instacart shopper, an Airbnb host and a Taskrabbit,” Dr. Sundararajan said.

But the rise of such work could also make your income less predictable and your long-term employment less secure. And it may relegate the idea of establishing a lifelong career to a distant memory."
Uber’s Business Model Could Change Your Work - NYTimes.com

Biz Break: Facebook growth still strong despite warning of slowdown - San Jose Mercury News

Built to scale

"Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia described Facebook's earnings as "better across the board" than its previous report, describing it as an "outstanding quarter."

"Reach, engagement and monetization -- they exceeded on all fronts," he said in a telephone interview Wednesday afternoon.

Expectations of decelerating revenues and a patient path to producing profits from large acquisitions such as WhatsApp and Oculus VR have turned off some investors and analysts, but Facebook seems committed to avoiding talk of monetization for its expensive toys. In Wednesday's conference call, Zuckerberg called WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger as "indispensable services for the world" and spoke of the possibilities for Oculus, but did not divulge any plans for monetization.

"It's really important to get this right and not rush it," Zuckerberg said."
Biz Break: Facebook growth still strong despite warning of slowdown - San Jose Mercury News

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

MapR Unveils Free On-Demand Training Program with $50M In-Kind Contribution to the Hadoop Community | MapR

Check this MapR page for more details

"MapR Technologies, Inc., provider of the top-ranked distribution for Apache™ Hadoop®, today announced the availability of free Hadoop On-Demand Training for developers, analysts and administrators which represents a $50M in-kind contribution* to the broad Hadoop community. The Hadoop training program is a multi-course curriculum designed to expand worldwide adoption of Hadoop technology. The curriculum provides engaging and interactive video lessons, hands-on exercises, labs and quizzes, enabling professionals to acquire valuable Hadoop skills and knowledge on their own schedule."
MapR Unveils Free On-Demand Training Program with $50M In-Kind Contribution to the Hadoop Community | MapR

YouTube Engineering and Developers Blog: YouTube now defaults to HTML5

For some broader context-setting, see HTML5: Doomed to fail or just getting started? (TechRepublic, 8/2014)
"Four years ago, we wrote about YouTube’s early support for the HTML5 tag and how it performed compared to Flash. At the time, there were limitations that held it back from becoming our preferred platform for video delivery. Most critically, HTML5 lacked support for Adaptive Bitrate (ABR) that lets us show you more videos with less buffering.

Over the last four years, we’ve worked with browser vendors and the broader community to close those gaps, and now, YouTube uses HTML5 by default in Chrome, IE 11, Safari 8 and in beta versions of Firefox.

The benefits of HTML5 extend beyond web browsers, and it's now also used in smart TVs and other streaming devices. Here are a few key technologies that have enabled this critical step forward: "
YouTube Engineering and Developers Blog: YouTube now defaults to HTML5 <video>

Apple Reports Biggest Quarterly Profit in Its History | Re/code

Not just its history; also see Apple Just Had The Most Profitable Quarter Of Any Company Ever (TechCrunch)

"For perspective, Chief Executive Tim Cook said Apple sold an average of 34,000 iPhones every hour of every day in the quarter. In fact, it has surpassed 1 billion devices powered by the iOS mobile operating system in the quarter — a number which also includes iPad tablets as well as smartphones.

“One billion devices is an almost unfathomable milestone,” Cook said in a call Tuesday with analysts. “And we are all incredibly proud to be part of it.”"
Apple Reports Biggest Quarterly Profit in Its History | Re/code

A Data-Science Lender Takes on Student Debt - NYTimes.com

A modern version of the "know your customer" adage

"Earnest asks its borrowers for a lot of information. It wants to see their bank accounts, credit-card statements, student loan and any other loan balances. It also wants to see any investment accounts or retirement accounts. It asks loan candidates to make sure their LinkedIn accounts of job and education history are filled in and up to date.

This is all done without paperwork. Earnest expects its borrowers to conduct their financial lives online. Earnest says it has read-only access to the information. It pledges not to store personal data or sell it. Earnest’s software algorithms give weight to things not factored into traditional credit analysis like education and savings, which, in the start-up’s calculations, point to capacity to pay and lower risk."
A Data-Science Lender Takes on Student Debt - NYTimes.com

Uber for Snowplows: Startups Dig Out of the Blizzard - Businessweek

Driveway disruption (yesterday's storm dumped 24.4 inches of snow in Boston, according to this Boston Globe article)

"Plow services have traditionally operated as route businesses, signing up customers in advance and digging them out when it snows. Plowz and Mowz caters to homeowners who don’t pay for a regular service but want occasional help clearing a driveway. To meet customer demand, the startup uses software to assign new jobs to drivers who are already planning to be in the area. Wills Mahoney, who launched the startup in 2013 with a former college roommate, expects to process 2,000 jobs in Boston as a result of the recent blizzard, which deposited 18 inches of snow. Rates will top out at around $80 per driveway, and Plowz takes a 30 percent cut. Those economics and some angel funding have helped the startup grow from four markets at the beginning of last year to 34 today, with an expansion into landscaping services. “We see ourselves as billion-dollar company,” Mahoney says."
Uber for Snowplows: Startups Dig Out of the Blizzard - Businessweek

‘Staggering’ iPhone Demand Helps Lift Apple’s Quarterly Profit by 38% - WSJ

More Apple financial factoids

"Apple Inc. surpassed even the most bullish Wall Street expectations for its holiday quarter with an improbable trifecta: selling more iPhones at higher prices—and earning more on each sale.
[...]
Apple posted net of $18.0 billion for its fiscal first quarter ended Dec. 27, up 38% from $13.1 billion in the same period a year earlier. That is more than 435 of the companies in the S&P 500 index each made in total profits since 2009, according to S&P Capital IQ."
‘Staggering’ iPhone Demand Helps Lift Apple’s Quarterly Profit by 38% - WSJ

Yahoo to Spin Off Its Stake in Alibaba - NYTimes.com

Innovative accounting, at least

"Yahoo executives promised shareholders that they would find a way to dispose of the rest of the Alibaba stake in a way that incurred a much lower tax bill. Their solution — a spinoff of the Alibaba stake and a Yahoo operating business — avoids $16 billion in corporate taxes that Yahoo would have owed if it had simply sold the stake, executives said.

Investors will receive shares in the spun-off company in proportion to their stakes in Yahoo, and will pay taxes on their capital gains when they sell those shares. But the plan will not give Yahoo a new pile of cash with which it could make big acquisitions."
Yahoo to Spin Off Its Stake in Alibaba - NYTimes.com

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

I just saw the first movie from Oculus, and it is the future | The Verge

Check the full post for an overview

"Earlier today [1/26] Oculus announced Story Studio, its in-house production team dedicated to producing virtual reality movies. We’ve been seeing VR narrative experiences for years at this point, and while they’ve been getting more and more impressive, they’ve still been iterative steps forward. Despite how much we’ve all wanted to it to happen, nothing has stood up, raised its hands, and shouted "I’m the project that proves this crazy thing could actually work."

I just watched Lost, the first short from Story Studio. That stand up and shout moment? It’s arrived."
I just saw the first movie from Oculus, and it is the future | The Verge

Biz Break: Apple earnings are like nothing Silicon Valley has seen before - San Jose Mercury News

Raising the bar

"Apple showed off the highest quarterly profits and revenues in its history Tuesday, revealing net income of $18 billion, or $3.06 a share, on sales of $74.6 billion. That completes a calendar year in which Apple reported profits of $44.46 billion on sales of $199.8 billion, nearly producing the first annual sales total of $200 billion in Silicon Valley history. Apple's year-over-year gain of 20 percent for profits and 14.8 percent for revenues puts its sales total higher than the 2013 gross domestic product totals for all but 52 countries out of 192 measured by the World Bank."
Biz Break: Apple earnings are like nothing Silicon Valley has seen before - San Jose Mercury News

Twitter Adds Group Messaging and Video Recording - NYTimes.com

Check this Twitter blog post for more details

"While hardly groundbreaking, the video and messaging features finally bring Twitter on par with Facebook, its much larger rival, which has offered group messaging and integrated video for some time. Perhaps more important for Twitter’s investors, the improvements show that the company, which was notorious for the creeping pace of its product improvements, is picking up the tempo under the new leadership installed by Dick Costolo, its chief executive, in a series of management shake-ups last year."
Twitter Adds Group Messaging and Video Recording - NYTimes.com

Amazon Family Library Set Up - Business Insider

A handy overview of sharing via Amazon Family Library

"With Family Library, you can create a six-person Household, linking your account with another adult and up to four children. The two adult profiles can buy and share content with each other — including apps and audiobooks — and the child accounts, which still have to be using devices registered with one of the parent's accounts. 

If you have a friend or family member with similar taste in books, Family Library is a great way to save money. 

Here's how you turn it on:"
Amazon Family Library Set Up - Business Insider

Dropbox acquires design-minded collaboration software startup Pixelapse | ZDNet

Dropbox picks up a couple collaboration startups
"Dropbox has added another collaboration startup to the portfolio with the acquisition of Pixelapse. Founded in 2011, the Palo Alto-based company develops cloud-based collaboration tools aimed toward freelance designers and creative teams.[...] 
The Pixelapse deal follows up the purchase of Israeli startup CloudOn last week.
Said to boast more than nine million users, CloudOn makes document editing and productivity tools for mobile devices. The five-year-old company started out with a focus on editing Microsoft Office documents and has since evolved to other file types."
Dropbox acquires design-minded collaboration software startup Pixelapse | ZDNet

TechHandicapping Apple's earnings - Fortune

High expectations for Apple's quarterly earnings, to be announced this afternoon

"Apple told Wall Street to expect total sales somewhere in the range of $63.5 to $66.5 billion — representing, at the midpoint, 15% growth from fiscal Q1 2014.

Analysts aren’t buying it. They saw the lines for the new iPhones. They’ve seen IDC’s Mac numbers. They know iPad sales haven’t totally died. They watched Apple shift production to meet demand for the larger — and higher margin — iPhone 6 Plus.

They’re expecting a big quarter."
TechHandicapping Apple's earnings - Fortune

Dennis Woodside on Motorola, Google and the future of Dropbox - Telegraph

Google/Motorola iDisrupted; check the article link below for a profile of Woodside's current employer, Dropbox

"Indeed, the 6-inch Nexus 6, he can now admit, was stymied by just one of those big players. A dimple on the back that helps users hold the device should, in fact, have been rather more sophisticated. “The secret behind that is that it was supposed to be fingerprint recognition, and Apple bought the best supplier. So the second best supplier was the only one available to everyone else in the industry and they weren’t there yet,” says Woodside. Nonetheless, he adds, the addition of fingerprint recognition, “wouldn’t have made that big a difference.”"
Dennis Woodside on Motorola, Google and the future of Dropbox - Telegraph

FY15 Q2 - Press Releases - Investor Relations - Microsoft

The most important numbers in Microsoft's earnings release yesterday, imho: "Commercial cloud revenue grew 114% driven by Office 365, Azure and Dynamic CRM Online, and is now on an annualized revenue run rate of $5.5 billion"; tangentially, from The Man Behind IBM’s Cloud-Based Campaign (WSJ), "Robert LeBlanc, a 33-year Big Blue veteran, was named the leader of a new dedicated cloud unit in early January. He reports directly to CEO Virginia Rometty, overseeing cloud-related businesses that IBM says are generating about $7 billion in annual revenue—a target the company reached a year earlier than it expected—and growing at a 60% clip."

FY15 Q2 - Press Releases - Investor Relations - Microsoft


IBM denies it will lay off a quarter of its workforce - San Jose Mercury News

Perhaps it's all in the definition of "lay off"? See Cringely's update, IBM is right, I am a gadfly, for additional speculation

"Calling it "ridiculous" and "baseless," IBM on Monday dismissed a report that said the technology giant plans to lay off 1 in 4 of its workers, or 100,000 people.

The company "flatly denies" the Forbes report, IBM spokesman Ian Colley said in a phone interview. IBM previously has announced layoffs affecting "several thousand people," only "a small fraction" of the number predicted last week by a blogger on Forbes.com, IBM said in a statement."
IBM denies it will lay off a quarter of its workforce - San Jose Mercury News

Monday, January 26, 2015

Handle Emerges With $9.9 Million for New Approach to Organizing Email - Venture Capital Dispatch - WSJ

A new attempt to get a handle on messaging and personal information management

"Despite the ability to build Notes apps that the creators thought would develop into various corporate knowledge management systems, email turned out to be the most important feature of Notes, Mr. Kapor said.

Since then, “it’s become a victim of its own success,” he said. “The death of email has been announced over and over, and not only does it refuse to die, but it becomes more and more central to our lives.”

Handle’s team developed its software after studying ways that people try to organize themselves that are not working, Mr. Carolan said—flagging emails, emailing reminders to themselves, posting reminders on their calendars and dragging them forward, using legal pads to make daily lists and so on."
Handle Emerges With $9.9 Million for New Approach to Organizing Email - Venture Capital Dispatch - WSJ

Revolution Analytics joins Microsoft (Revolutions blog)

This will be an interesting case study for "the new Microsoft," e.g., in terms of commitment to open source and ongoing support for non-Windows platforms; also see Microsoft is a 'strange bedfellow' for recently acquired open source company (Puget Sound Business Journal)
"We’re excited the work we’ve done with Revolution R will come to a wider audience through Microsoft. Our combined teams will be able to help more users use advanced analytics within Microsoft data platform solutions, both on-premises and in the cloud with Microsoft Azure. And just as importantly, the big-company resources of Microsoft will allow us to invest even more in the R Project and the Revolution R products. We will continue to sponsor local R user groups and R events, and expand our support for community initiatives. We’ll also have more resources behind our open-source R projects including RHadoop, DeployR and the Reproducible R Toolkit. And of course, we’ll be able to add further enhancements to Revolution R and bring R capabilities to the Microsoft suite of products."
Revolution Analytics joins Microsoft

Box Shares Are Soaring, And My Head Feels Like It Is Going To Explode (ValleyWag)

Dan Lyons on the Box IPO; check the full post for a "video of frenzied mom-and-pop investors racing to buy shares"

"The stock was priced at $14, opened at $20, and traded above $24, giving Box a market value of nearly $3 billion.

Bear in mind: From 2011 forward, Box has lost $466.1 — nearly half a billion dollars! — while generating $361.1 million in revenue.

But maybe profitability is just around the corner? Er, no.

In fact the Box prospectus says, right there in big boldface print: "We have a history of cumulative losses, and we do not expect to be profitable for the foreseeable future."

Translation: This is a big huge black pit filled with hellfire; won't you please throw many of your moneys into it?"
Box Shares Are Soaring, And My Head Feels Like It Is Going To Explode

Your College May Be Banking on Your Facebook Likes - NYTimes.com

Donor data mining

"At a moment when President Obama is pushing for federal consumer privacy legislation, these nascent donor data-mining techniques demonstrate how easy it is for companies to repurpose the details that individuals volunteer about themselves in one context for a different use. “I do think there’s an ethical issue. It’s one thing to estimate someone’s wealth, but then to gauge how willing they are to give, you have to look deeply into a person’s life,” says Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum, a consumer group in San Diego. “I’m not sure alumni would appreciate or want that — if they knew about it.”"
Your College May Be Banking on Your Facebook Likes - NYTimes.com

The Car Windshield Is Turning Into a Computer Screen - Businessweek

Heads-up display technology poised to go mainstream

"Automakers have been adding a flood of information designed to keep drivers safe—some requested by customers, others mandated by governments—but it risks having the opposite effect. As weird as it sounds, projecting text and graphics onto the windshield may be less distracting to drivers than forcing them to look down at cluttered in-car screens—or worse, their mobile phones. A HUD, which sits within the driver's line of sight, would be free of "check engine" and "change oil" lights, and only display the alerts a driver might need at any given moment. Hyundai, Toyota, and General Motors expect the HUD to go mainstream very soon.

"It's about keeping the driver's eye on the road," says Carson Grover, a product planner at Hyundai Motor America. "For a long time, we thought a HUD was kind of a gimmick. Now we see this as a technology that's going to get more important over time.""
The Car Windshield Is Turning Into a Computer Screen - Businessweek

Verizon’s Mobile ‘Supercookies’ Seen as Threat to Privacy - NYTimes.com

Perhaps Verizon will start to pay customers to use its services, for advertising fodder collection purposes...

"The practice has given ammunition to supporters of net neutrality — the idea that the Internet should be a level playing field for companies of all sizes — who have lobbied the F.C.C. to reclassify broadband providers as common carriers.

If that happens, it could prohibit carriers like Verizon from selling intelligence about its customers for ad-targeting purposes.

“Stuff like this is worse than what Google or Facebook or anyone else does,” Mr. Feld said. “I can avoid Google and Facebook, in theory at least. But if the network operator is going to spy on me, there is nothing I can do about it.”"
Verizon’s Mobile ‘Supercookies’ Seen as Threat to Privacy - NYTimes.com

Google, Cablevision Challenge Wireless Industry’s Business Model - WSJ

Wireless disruption ahead

"Two companies, two plans

Google’s service, which could be rolled out in the first half of this year, would sift through cellular connections provided by Sprint and T-Mobile US and Wi-Fi ‘hot spots,’ picking the best signal for routing calls, texts and data.
Cablevision next month will start offering a Wi-Fi-only mobile-phone service dubbed Freewheel, that will include unlimited data, talk and text for $9.95 a month for broadband Internet subscribers and $29.95 for noncustomers."
Google, Cablevision Challenge Wireless Industry’s Business Model - WSJ

Despite fall, bitcoin fans keep the faith - Business - The Boston Globe

Final paragraphs from a bitcoin reality check; also see Bitcoin and the Digital-Currency Revolution (WSJ)
"“The penetration has really been quite small, relative to the media hype,” he said.

Yermack did say the blockchain has great promise to safeguard other vital information. For instance, the title to your home or car is recorded on a piece of paper and on a computer in a government data center.

“It can be altered, forged, burned down, and lawyers have to be paid to go looking for it,” Yermack said. But putting the same data on a blockchain computer network would be cheaper, far more secure, and easier to access, said Yermack, who predicted the blockchain technique will become the standard method of recording many important transactions."
Despite fall, bitcoin fans keep the faith - Business - The Boston Globe

Friday, January 23, 2015

Box Bolts Higher After Delayed Public Debut (Forbes)

BOX is up ~66% as I type this; Irrational Exuberance 2.0 is now official... Also see Box’s IPO Could Rain All Over Microsoft’s Comeback (Wired)

"It may have taken longer than anticipated, but Box's debut as a public company is off to a rousing start.

Shares of the cloud storage firm opened for trading at $22 Friday, a 57% pop from its $14 IPO price. The company sold 12.5 million shares to raise $175 million (underwriters led by Morgan Stanley MS +0.08%, Credit Suisse and JPMorgan Chase JPM -0.47% have the option to purchase another 1.9 million shares to lift the total proceeds from the deal to just over $201 million)."
Box Bolts Higher After Delayed Public Debut

Apple targets for Apple Watch battery life revealed, A5-caliber CPU inside | 9to5Mac

Actual results may vary

"According to our sources, Apple opted to use a relatively powerful processor and high-quality screen for the Apple Watch, both of which contribute to significant power drain. Running a stripped-down version of iOS codenamed SkiHill, the Apple S1 chip inside the Apple Watch is surprisingly close in performance to the version of Apple’s A5 processor found inside the current-generation iPod touch, while the Retina-class color display is capable of updating at a fluid 60 frames per second.

Apple initially wanted the Apple Watch battery to provide roughly one full day of usage, mixing a comparatively small amount of active use with a larger amount of passive use. As of 2014, Apple wanted the Watch to provide roughly 2.5 to 4 hours of active application use versus 19 hours of combined active/passive use, 3 days of pure standby time, or 4 days if left in a sleeping mode. Sources, however, say that Apple will only likely achieve approximately 2-3 days in either the standby or low-power modes."
Apple targets for Apple Watch battery life revealed, A5-caliber CPU inside | 9to5Mac

The Age of Unicorns - Fortune

Check the full article for a handy, er, bubble chart of unicorns and "decacorns"

"“I think you’re going to see a lot of failure in 2015,” says Benchmark Capital partner Bill Gurley, who sits on Uber’s board of directors. “If you’re a public company worth $3 billion and your stock trades down to $1 billion, you can survive it because you can still issue options to hire new employees, etc.  If it happens when you’re private, though, it becomes immediately harder to hire or to get incremental investment.”

In the meantime, expect more billion-dollar startups to emerge—at least for now. “You can’t choose not to play,” Gurley says. “If you’re in the enterprise segment and your competitors are raising $150 million at high valuations and pouring it into sales, you either can do something similar or be conservative and no longer matter.” Which might explain why some VCs continue to invest even as they predict failure. There’s always the hope and belief that the value created by a few successful unicorns will offset the losses of those that fail."
The Age of Unicorns - Fortune

Google Is the Last Thing the Wireless Carriers Need | Re/code

Tangentially, see Will HBO on the Web Pull the Plug on Pay TV? Survey Says: Yep! (Re/code)

"As if the wireless carrier industry wasn’t doing a good enough job of driving prices and its business into the ground — now Google may be here to speed up the process.

The Information reported this week that Google is expected to tap the networks of Sprint and T-Mobile to create a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) and essentially offer cell service under its own brand.

The two carriers might enjoy a short-term boost in revenue and traffic from the Internet giant, but they may also have let a brand new deep-pocketed competitor into the cutthroat business of stealing each others wireless customers."
Google Is the Last Thing the Wireless Carriers Need | Re/code

Technology Leaders Define Digital Fault Lines - NYTimes.com

In other World Economic Forum news, see Executives in Davos Express Worries Over More Disruptive Cyberattacks (NYT) and Privacy is dead, Harvard professors tell Davos forum (Yahoo Tech)
"Mr. Benioff said his company was diligent about protecting its customers’ data. But he was questioned by an audience member about another company he owns that crowdsources personal data and sells it.

“You can opt out,” he said.

That prompted Tim Berners-Lee, a professor of engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the creator of the web’s bedrock software standards, to wonder how one even finds out about all the entities that collect data on people.

“How do I know all these places I need to opt out?” he asked. “Do I need to come here?”"
Technology Leaders Define Digital Fault Lines - NYTimes.com

Facebook at Work Offers Little New as Corporate Social Network - Businessweek

From a Facebook at Work and overall enterprise social reality check

"Facebook at Work’s lack of these kinds of sorting mechanisms could seriously impede its usefulness. “The reason that these systems have failed in the past is that information wasn’t germane enough to allow the user to make a decision or take action,” says Lisa Hammitt, the vice president for marketing at Salesforce Communities. By forcing workers to rely on its algorithms to determine which items they see, Facebook is betting it can interpret and manage any given set of corporate communications well enough to keep its corporate social network from feeling like an avalanche of HR spam, scheduling chatter, and ice bucket challenges."
Facebook at Work Offers Little New as Corporate Social Network - Businessweek

Box Inc. IPO Prices at $14 a Share, Above Expectations - WSJ

I suspect many early investors are doing some out-of-the-BOX planning

"The company, which will begin trading Friday on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol BOX, had been looking to sell shares in the $11 to $13 price range.

Box’s success as a public company will hinge on its ability to differentiate its offering amid increasing competition from tech giants like Microsoft Corp. and Amazon.com Inc., who have used their heft to offer online storage at ever-lower prices."
Box Inc. IPO Prices at $14 a Share, Above Expectations - WSJ

Vice Uses Virtual Reality to Immerse Viewers in News - NYTimes.com

More VR mainstreaming

"There are three options for experiencing the project at home. The first is a virtual-reality headset, like the Oculus Rift device. The second is with the Vrse app, downloaded onto a smartphone and connected to a simple viewer, like a cardboard one that Google designed to be built on your own. Finally, viewers can download the app and watch directly on a phone, which provides a close approximation of the experience but loses some of the 3-D features.

Long the purview of the gaming world, virtual reality represents a new frontier for journalism. News reports for years have borne witness to the events shaping the world. Now, directors and reporters are experimenting with virtual-reality technologies to essentially transport people into those events."
Vice Uses Virtual Reality to Immerse Viewers in News - NYTimes.com

Winklevoss Twins Aim to Take Bitcoin Mainstream With a Regulated Exchange - NYTimes.com

Check the full article for assorted Bitcoin company crash-and-burn snapshots

"Bitcoin, the virtual currency that was once the talk of the financial world, has been taking a beating over the last year with the price tumbling downward.

Now two of the biggest boosters of the virtual currency, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, are trying to firm up support by creating the first regulated Bitcoin exchange for American customers — what they are calling the Nasdaq of Bitcoin."
Winklevoss Twins Aim to Take Bitcoin Mainstream With a Regulated Exchange - NYTimes.com