Friday, June 24. 2016
Today, the UK voted to leave the European Union (EU), whatever that may mean.
Whatever you think of the outcome (this are not really a political blog), we are officially in Uncharted Seas, in Interesting Times - History is beginning again
From a technology point of view there are some interesting questions, for example about the UK's adoption of EU data rules, or whether the UK "Tech" sector is better of relocating to Berlin or Dublin or somesuch, or whatever.
We have been going for 10 years this year, and have had to do some quite interesting predictive work over the last 10 years, from the market opportunity of niche products future of entire industries, but we would never have predicted this until a few weeks ago when it was clear social media sentiment was rapidly shifting
Change is a constant.....the next 10 promise to be just as interesting.
Monday, June 13. 2016
It is hard to see exactly what synergies the deal brings - picture above courtesy Matt Zeitlin
Microsoft has bought Linked In, the question top of mind to us is "why - and why pay so much?".
They have paid about 50% over the odds (Linked In shares were c $130, now are c $195 on MSFT bid of $196), that is a considerable premium.
It would seem to be a bet on the "Future of Work" - Satya Nadella (MSFT CEO) says that:
Quite how this translates practically is hard to see, as the diagram shows above synergies are not exactly obvious so its an accretion play. But the business cases trotted out are speculative and not particulalry compelling:
- Microsoft Office combined with LinkedIn's network so Microsoft can point to a specialized expert through LinkedIn
This is not the stuff of a 50% level of valuation premium, it's fluff for diverting tech journos. Yet Nadella is no fool, so what is really in play here? Thinking laterally, it gives MSFT access to a lot more data about YOU!:
- Access to the social graphs and details about a lot of working people globally, i.e. the list of nearly every customer, and insight into many companies that Microsoft has or wants - a CRM system wet-dream
Now that is the sort of thing that has got real value, and the price then starts makes sense - deter others from entering any bidding war.
Of course, it could not be be, as one wag on Twitter suggested, MSFT's attempt to "consolidate its dominance over the most joyless aspects of your computing life" - though if we follow Lewinsky's Law, that the most dull tech is the most profitable, it also explains the valuation
Friday, June 3. 2016
It gets, er, better - from troncInc's own press release:
“tronc pools the company’s leading media brands and leverages innovative technology to deliver personalized and interactive experiences to its 60m monthly users,”
And then there is troncX, an “online curation and monetization engine” which utilizes artificial intelligence technology “to accelerate digital growth”.
Oddly enough, the marketplace has not been wowed, in fact some have been uncouth enough to even suggest that the brand name was badly troncated, or even that the Branding Consultants were tronc (OK, OK, nearly everyone is hooting with laughter and taking the piss)
But all is not lost - firstly, its an excellent Wildean Strategy and lets not ignore that they have all those right-on-the-money buzzwords - Monetization, premium, AI, digital, accelerate - and it starts with a small letter to boot. Not a bad start for Unicorn bingo, but Broadstuff analysis shows a serious flaw - surely, surely to hit max points they should have gone for that double "oo" thing?
You know it makes sense....besides, what (more) could go wrong?
Friday, May 27. 2016
Godwin's Law of Online Discourse - that as an online discussion continues, the probability of a comparison to Hitler or to Nazis approaches 1 - has been proven.
From Mr Godwin himself:
On the law itself, he notes that:
That hasn't gone so well it seems...he also noted the propensity of London mayors to invoke it nowadays:
Tuesday, May 17. 2016
BBC is being required to reduce its spend by our current Government, and one of the decisions is to remove 11,000 food recipes built up over 15 years or so:
A number of interesting lessons from this about electronic vs. paper media:
- Online data is not "permanent" - it can be removed at the whim of economic (or in this case, more likely political) changes in the winds. Once gone, its not clear it can be returned
This being the UK, there is already a campaign and a petition to keep the recipes (and perish the thought the BBC knows this would have happened)
The recipes are part of a broader picture of a larger attack on the BBC's taxpayer funded free content model, which is free for citizens to use and hurts the business models of commercial online businesses.
The BBC represents a real alternative to Ad-funded online content, essentally its a tax funded high quality content model, and has shown itself to be largely superior to the Ad-funded model in the UK and thus represents an existential threat to Ad funded approaches, hence the increasing attacks on its online assets.
Thursday, April 21. 2016
This shouldn't surprise readers of this blog, but there is a nice analysis of the problems Unicorns have with the funding rounds with guaranteed payouts to certain funders (ratchet, prefs etc) on "abovethecrowd" blog - "dirty deals" made by "shark investors"
One is that they “unpack” or “explode” at some point in the future. You can no longer simply look at the cap table and estimate your return. Once you have accepted a dirty offering, the payout at each potential future valuation requires a complex analysis, where the return for the Shark is calculated first, and then the remains are shared by everyone else. The second reason they are a massive problem is that their complexity will render future financings all but impossible.
As the blog points out, later-stage investors may be tempted to become Sharks themselves and start including "dirty deal" into their own term sheets. They will need to embrace a Shark culture, and be comfortable knowing that they are adverse to and in conflict with the founders, employees, and other investors on the capitalization chart. This is filed under "No Shit, Shylock" in Broadstuff Towers...
Troubled waters lie ahead for many of the Unicorns.....clearly these deals have inflated the Unibubble, but it looks like they will also be a major reason it bursts.
(Update - this article by Sarah Lacy notes the author of the above is an early stage VC, and thus one of those being scraped by the "dirty deals" I assume. Now while one feels a tad sorry for him, he must have known (i) the VC game, (ii) the potential burn rates of these businesses trying to colonise industries with neglibible costs of entry and (iii) that they have been in the Bubbletime for c 3 years - heck, we did, this is not hard!
Thursday, March 24. 2016
Now who would have predicted this - Sarah Perez at TC:
The clue is Sarah's line "Given that this is the Internet" - it was an 800lb Gorilla "Given"
Cue a million human internet trolls thinking today "hey, with one of those I am unstoppable 24 x 7"
The problem AI has is that it potentially promises everything and the Hypesters run with that as fact, but in truth today's early AI systems are more like intelligences with Savants syndrome - there's one thing they are taught to do very well, but are completely clueless at anything else. Deep Mind can beat Lee Se Dol at Go, but it can't do any of the other things Lee can do (and it burns 50,000 times more energy in not doing it....). Tay can "learn" (aka parrot) what people tell it but cannot distinguish between deep truths and inflammatory statements.
Oh - one last thing - Tay is modelled on a teenage girl. Sheeesh.
To be fair this is not Tay's fault per se, that you have to lay at the hands of its "parents" - how did they not see this one coming (and, when it started, who was watching its first faltering steps on its first day out playing in the traffic?). Anyone who has been around the internet for more than a few months (or even days - Boaty McBoatface anyone) would have seen that this was a not improbable risk.
PS There is a deeper story here, about the reliance on machine intelligences before they are ready, and the damage they can do without anyone knowing. The thing about complex systems is it's often very hard to find out when they are not working properly, malfunction is often not obvious - so it is necessary to watch them very closely, not let them off to roam on the Interwebz like Tay.
Monday, March 21. 2016
Over 10 years it's essentially moved from people laughing at it, through enormous hype, to people incraesingly attacking it. If Gandhi is correct, next step is it wins.
We have long opined its a system of extremely high potential, but suffers from an "interesting" management culture, with all the turmoil making it hard to focus on execution and any long term plays, so it is consistently under-achieving. One of teh pities in our view is that its seen as a "social network". It's not - its a lightweight universal comms system.
There's an interview with co founder and current CEO Jack Dorsey on Bloomberg, these snippets are interesting re "where the value is":
As to Twitter vs. Facebook, I think the best differentiation I've heard was from Caroline Criado-Perez on BBC Newsnight tonight, it was something like this - Facebook is your safe home village where you're preaching to the converted and no one argues with you too much. Twitter is where you meet people who disagree with you, that can be scary, but its also where you reach out and communicate with many, many people and that is invaluable.
Thursday, March 17. 2016
We've been following the path of Boston Dynamics over the last decade or so, and here is the next step in the saga - Google, having bought in haste, has divested it fairly quickly. How come? Bloomberg thinks its about time to market:
Hmmm...further down the article is something I've seen a lot of over the years - senior exec with a view does deal, rest of top management wasn't really bought in, senior exec leaves, acquired company strangled or sold:
Walking robots are a scary narrative when you're trying to persuade the world you're good guys with cute electronic cars, perhaps?
Friday, March 11. 2016
This is astounding - Wirecutter
That's between a 50% and 67% saving in battery life from using an Adblocker. In technology terms that's a 2 year Moore's Law improvement in battery life (better in fact, as betteries are inproving at a slower rate than chipsets). Or to put it another way, Ads remove much of the advances in battery life over the last few years (and bandwidth too, but that's not for today)
As a comparison Wirecutter also measured the drain of (i) continuous bright screen and (ii) watching a movie continuously...:
Running on bright screen vs minimum brightness
....using the Geekbench utility’s battery-intensive routines for an hour, an iPhone 6s used 54 percent less battery—12 percent of a full charge versus 26 percent—with the screen brightness at minimum compared with maximum brightness. A Moto X Pure Edition Android phone used 30 percent less (21 percent of a full charge versus 30 percent
Watching a movie
So per hour, they found the extra drain was, for the iPhone and Moto X respectively:
No Adblocker for an hour of browsing - 4.5% and 14%
Bright screen on all the time vs low - 14% and 9%
Movie watching over Wifi at 50% brightness - 5% and 11% respectively
So on the iPhone for example, the difference Adblocking makes per hour is roughly the energy required to watch a movie, or using the phone set for using at minimum brightness vs medium brightness.
More pressure on the Mobile Ad industry - the presure from bandwidth and load time frustration is already increasing Adblocker adoption, this is yet another turn in the sorry tale.
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