Friday, March 28. 2014
Interesting 2 paragraphs from Fred Wilson's blog, talking about "what's next":
But the roadmap has been clear for the past seven years (maybe longer). The next thing was mobile. Mobile is now the last thing. And all of these big tech companies are looking for the next thing to make sure they don’t miss it.. And they will pay real money (to you and me) for a call option on the next thing.
I'm intrigued by the idea of a call option, I think it could be executed better than via VC funding though, Fred - now that would be disruptive
But I think Fred's largely right that Mobile was the last Next Thing - though strictly speaking its not "Mobile" now per se, but PC level processing power meeting Moore's Law and shrinking in size and price so it can be easily portable, with a damn good UI (think iPaq then iPhone). These "Smart" phones and "tablets" killed good old Planet Mobile dead in about 3 years (Motorola, Nokia, Blackberry - where are they now? They were earth shaking giants a few short years ago!)
Anyway, where is the Next Big Thing to be found is the question Fred asks. The future is of course here, just unevenly spread, so the trick is to see what bits of the future are here, now - and actually are going somewhere. Ten things that have changed exponentially in the "networked technology" areas we follow, in the time we've been writing Broadstuff (est 2006) are:
- Robotics (including the flying type)
As you can see, these are hardly New New Things, just things that were already here in 2006 and even then clearly had high potential. What's interesting is that they were all already on very predictable development vectors in 2006, but no one looked at them as killer technologies in those days. That was because at that time, their rate of development was still mainly all theoretical, and not provably valuable. To compare, here are 10 other things that were also floating around in 2006/7 that I thought also could happen sooner and haven't yet, but still may as they are all Big Next Next Things potentially.
These are all here today, unevenly distributed, and still chugging along - but at slower rates than the various laws of networking, learning, Moores et al would predict. Typically there is a something in them that is missing, obstinately sticking at current capability or economically unavailable, awaiting the "key" to their leap over the Chasm. But all it takes is a small shift (think iPaq vs iPhone again) and over they go.
All you have to do to build your own mind-boggling portfolio of New Next Things To Watch is read the various Gartner Hype Curves for the last 10 years, and you will see a slew of things on the hot S curve one year and disappearing 2-3 years later. They don't go away though, and are still evolving in the Darwinian mud of technology species, it's just that something hasn't yet quite worked out for them yet. And somewhere in that stew already, are the next 10 New New Things.
Wednesday, March 26. 2014
King Digital stock price fall on IPO day courtesy Yahoo Finance
It was no great surprise to us that the makers of Candy Crush, King Digital Entertainment Plc , had a less than illustrious IPO. As we wrote in February, it was high time to run for the IPO gate before it closed on them, and they have. Good luck to them, they now have $500m in the bank now, a useful cushion against the slings and arrows of outrageous future misfortune. The c £8.5bn valuation (now c $7bn) will not be quite so easy to live with, I suspect.
But nothing changes our analysis since February, this stock is a still very high risk punt, and sold at Bubbletime prices to Bubble-minded investors to boot.
Tuesday, March 25. 2014
Who needs Google Glass with these goggles...
Facebook has bought a tiny Virtual Reality company with a near-virtual product for $2bn (mainly stock) - Grauniad.
Kudos to Oculus, it started as a kickstarter project 2 years ago and has taken some serious funding. And actually, its likely that goggles or glasses of some sort will be the view-screen of choice at some point. This is clearly where Facebook see it going, as Mark Zuckerberg notes:
After games, we're going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences. Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face -- just by putting on goggles in your home.
This does point to a rather interesting tussle between Google Glasses and Facebook Goggles for nerdiest eyewear, and it also points to a new tussle for video screenware device-as-portal. But this is very early days for a virtual product for virtual reality, to go for for $2bn. Still, its all virtual money and it all works out in the Bubbletime.
Can't wait for the iGlass now.....you just know its coming.
Wednesday, March 12. 2014
Everybody loved Archie & Veronica before 1993
Today is the 25th "birthday of the Web", although strictly speaking that was the first proposal submitted, a memetic sperm if you like. The actual thing only came out in any recognisable form about 4 years later in 1991. For me it arrived 5 years after it's birth.
It was summer 1994, the day I downloaded the newly released NCSA Mosaic software on Windows (It was already out on UNIX, but I didn't have a UNIX tin anymore). Suddenly, all that stuff I'd been doing before was easy (FTP, Gopher et al). The thing about Mosaic was it was easy to use, put graphics where you actually wanted them and - most importantly - didn't crash! ("Browsing" had been around in buggy pieces of software - Cello anyone - before that, but Mosaic lit the spark - and sealed CompuServe and AOL's doom).
The rest, as they say, is history.
Anyway, with a sad (but quick) wave goodbye to Archie and Veronica, and grabbing my trusty basic guide to HTML, I started writing my first website.
Today of course you can knock out a whole web experience in the time it took to write one page then, but what the hell, that was web hacking early 90's style.
(Archie and Veronica were pre-Web search engines for FTP and Gopher respectively)
Monday, March 10. 2014
Kudos Gangstersout blog
Two pieces of news in quick succession - Friday, drones are cleared for use commecially in the US* - Pando Daily:
And then today: news in that two major US legal practices, LeClairRyan and McKenna Long, have set up Drone case chasing groups. - Washington Post:
What a marvellous world......still, as the picture above shows, the hunting season could be prolonged all year
*Update: The FAA have appealed, which means the drones don't fly until its settled, and there will be lots of lawyers droning on about drones
Friday, March 7. 2014
Some weeks ago I gave a talk about the "Dark Side of Open Data" at the Open Data Institute, where I predicted that the major beneficiaries of government data were not going to be private citizens, taxpayers, or enthusiastic small startups, but large enterprises with deep pockets and less than altruistic service models. The slide I used noted that history tells us any potential goldmine will be mined, and the obvious business model would be:
As to who would do this, the question I posed was "Which side are all the sharpest knives on?". No surprises then, that today I read in a McKinsey article on trends in Big Data that:
...there was a growing awareness, among participants, of the potential of tapping swelling reservoirs of external data—sometimes known as open data—and combining them with existing proprietary data to improve models and business outcomes. (See “What executives should know about open data.”) Hedge funds have been among the first to exploit a flood of newly accessible government data, correlating that information with stock-price movements to spot short-term investment opportunities.
Which immediately begs the question as, given the government is giving away the data, and the taxpayer funding it, should they be getting a better deal and not letting it go for $0.00?. I contend, in a world where companies such as Facebook valued at c $ 175 bn will pay $19bn for companies like Whatsapp primarily for their user data assets, that the answer is "no".
Another slide I put up was a rather perceptive comment by Jo Bates, of Manchester Metropolitan University, from 2012:
The current ‘transparency agenda’ [of the UK government, supported by prominent Open Data advocates] should be recognised as an initiative that also aims to enable the marketisation of public services, and this is something that is not readily apparent to the general observer.
The issue is that there is major asymmetry between those that stand to gain (a few corporation s and companies) and those that stand to lose (citizens who have their data appropriated and misused with no recompense). That point is made loud and clear by the McKinsey news...and this is just the beginning, I'd predict. My last slide but one was about what I predict we will see for the next few years:
- The combination of enthusiasts who see no problems, and commercial interests who intend to make money from the exact problems it will cause, will ensure data will get out without adequate protections or safeguards, at low cost (to the buyers)
So it is no great surprise that hedge funds are early entrants, nor that this week news emerged that 13 years of UK health data had already been sold under the radar to insurance companies for a pittance (to be fair, it was sold for modelling purposes, but the fact remains no one had agreed their data should be sold).
However, there are signs of hope. Days after I gave my talk, the Health Secretary had to abandon plans to sell off health data after a vigorous public protest campaign (waged heavily by social media....) and days later decided they would not sell patient data to such customers. In fact, what looks like an early day charter emerged, as the Government promised to:
....provide "rock-solid" assurance to patients that confidential information will not be sold for commercial insurance purposes, the Department of Health said.
Reading the comments to that report though, it is clear that all the shenanigans and the backlash that finally brought the Government to this point has significantly reduced any trust that this new recommendation will actually be followed - especially as they are going to try yet again to change the law, to be able to make data accessible in a few months time.
The other interesting event today was an abortion charity being heavily fined for being somewhat cavalier with peoples' data and giving it to a hacker. While its a pity its a charity, unless penalties for slack data care are pretty heavy there will be little incentive to look after peoples' data and it will be open season for hackers.
Wednesday, March 5. 2014
Yes, another one has found it has some Bitcoins missing:
A bitcoin bank has been forced to close after hackers stole 896 bitcoin, worth £365,000, in an attack on Sunday....
We told ya so....
Monday, March 3. 2014
In the 90's and 'Noughties I made many trips to San Francisco/ the Valley, and as the 90's dotcom bubble built up on I noticed two "non-stock" signals of its frothiness - house prices and occupation of the SoMa (South of Market) area by trendy bars and techie startups:
- House prices rose to the point that educated non techies couldn't afford them, so people like teachers were priced out. This is starting to happen again. (By the way, my "top of market" indicator was when teachers in SF/SV decided to sell and go and teach elsewhere/semi retire based on the huge house price gains)
So, another sign of the BubbleTime.
Of course, this time it Will Be Different....
Of course it will....
Incidentally, I recall going back in c 2003 after a 2 year absence and there was a house price tumble almost back to Palo Alto, plus SoMa was full of winos and old newspapers again....
Friday, February 28. 2014
The Tube, if it told the Truth - Kudos Buzzfeed
Every time you think that Twitter has become more silly than it was, something existential like the above emerges in your feed and you stay hooked. That is all you need to know about Twitter's ongoing value proposition.
(Actually.....I have a meeting in town today, I can either get there from Tourist Tat or Eric Pickles.....oh the choices)
Wednesday, February 26. 2014
I haven't heard much about Prediction Markets for a while, but here is a new one - predicting Innovation - Innovation Excellence:
Prediction markets were popularized in James Surowiecki’s 2004 book, The Wisdom of Crowds. They are systems which forecast the outcome of projects or events based on how willing individuals are to buy “stock” in them. People buy shares in the topics they think will succeed. Each topic or event then gets a value similar to a stock market price. These prices can be interpreted as predictions of the likelihood of the event.
Much was predicted for Prediction Markets a few years back, but they faded from view as results were not as stellar as, er, predicted (especially in the US elections), but hope always burns. The reason is typically that the preconditions for them to work are ignored, i.e. that all choices must be made by a heterogenous and fairly large number of people who are in no way influenced by one another or any common intrinsic factors.
If this can be pulled off in companies (or by companies crowdsourcing innovation) it will be a very interesting.
One to watch.
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