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Monday, May 20, 2013

The parallels between the Tumblr and Flickr acquisitions

When Yahoo acquired Flickr for a relatively paltry $30 million in 2005, founders Stewart Butterfield and Caterina Fake also took to the company blog. Like Karp, they couldn’t contain their glee – “Woohoo!” and said they would be “working with a bunch of people that Totally Get Flickr and want to preserve the community and the flavor of what is here. We’re going to grow and change, but we’re in it for the long haul, with the same management and same team,” which “in spite of our wiseassery, tomfoolery and tendency to hoot spontaneously – is crucial for preserving the Flickrness that is Flickr.” How’d that work out for them? For the first couple of years, things were fine. Fake told Gizmodo that “Yahoo was a good fit initially” and “in the subsequent two years after the acquisition, Flickr blossomed.” Then Yahoo’s Corporate Development department began to bleed Flickr dry, denying it resources because it didn’t generate sufficient revenue. “The money goes to the cash cows, not the cash calf,” as one anonymous Yahoo employee told Gizmodo. Instead of constantly innovating, Flickr management found itself in meetings defending the product.
Yahoo buys Tumblr and Mayer “promises not to screw it up” like past deals
Thursday, May 16, 2013

Should technology become more invisible?

Google’s professed goal of making technology “get out of the way” masks what’s truly taking place. By making technology invisible, Google is also making it omnipresent. As software and gadgets become less in-your-face, they also become more pervasive and more influential, as we in turn become more dependent on them, more accepting of their presence in our lives and less critical of them. After all, how can someone scrutinize what they can’t see? When Google says it’s working on technology that will go away, it really means the opposite: It’s after technology that gets into our heads and takes over.
The Truth Behind Google’s Bizarre Mission to Make Tech ‘Go Away’
Wednesday, May 15, 2013

"Google is on the verge of becoming the first tech company to hit $1,000 a share."

The company’s stock has been on an upward swing for months as Google has once again shown itself to be a major innovator in the tech space, with several promising breakthrough products like Glass and Fiber coming to market. By contrast, Apple’s stock price has fallen below $500 a share as Wall Street is concerned about whether it has another blockbuster product in the pipeline.
Google Stock Hits $900 For First Time Ever
Monday, May 13, 2013

We’ve heard of Google’s driverless cars. What about pilotless planes? We may have them sooner than you think

The 16-seat plane, dubbed the “Flying Test Bed,” used a pilot to take off and land, but flew autonomously the rest of the time, using “sense and avoid” technology to avoid a series of fake objects that were put in place by ASTRAEA, a British research agency working to make pilotless aircraft a reality. The perfection of the “sense and avoid” technology is a major hang-up, delaying the widespread implementation of unmanned aerial vehicles in the United States as the Federal Aviation Administration seeks to make sure drones can easily avoid any unplanned mid-flight obstacles.
Welcome To The Age of Pilotless Planes

Do social norms have to shift before the world accepts Google Glass?

Right now, Google Glass might be the world’s worst spy camera; if you go out in public with a pair on, you are guaranteed to attract attention. Still, the idea of techies mounting a tiny screen and a little camera to their faces makes millions of people uncomfortable. According to Sarah Rotman Epps, a tech analyst at Forrester Research, that is why Google is rolling out Glass to the world slowly in stages. “Google has been incredibly transparent … with their Glass rollout,” Epps says. “They realize that Google Glass will require shifting social norms to be accepted.” In that regard, the past few weeks have been rough for Google. If the company is going to turn around the public’s impression of this product, it will need some help.
Google Fights Glass Backlash Before It Even Hits The Street
Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Tired of Twitter spoiling your favorite TV shows? A high school senior just found a solution to your problem

[Massachusetts teen Jennie Lamere] says she came up with the idea the night before when she was talking with her dad about what she was going to do for the competition. Their conversation veered to Twitter and television. “The real problem is how often my Twitter feed is full of spoilers, so I just tried to come up with a solution to it,” explains Jennie, who says “Pretty Little Liars” and “Dance Moms” are often spoiled for her. At the competition she spent 10 hours creating the code, which redacts tweets that contain the title or characters from particular show for a set period of time.
Your Twitter TV Spoiler Solution, Brought to You by a Teenage Girl
Thursday, May 2, 2013

"Facebook is a Goldilocks company – not great, not terrible. It’s pretty good"

After the inevitable backlash [following its IPO], it became clear Facebook would end up somewhere between the fearsome juggernaut it once threatened to become and the hapless goat it became in the months after it went public. Its earnings became one of the most closely scrutinized in the Valley, because they yielded the best data on how Facebook would fare in the long run. After nearly a year as a public company, Facebook is emerging as a successful Internet company. It’s not the elaborate joke worth $15 a share, nor is it the once-in-a-generation success valued at $45 a share. It’s right in between, trading around $27.50 in the wake of its first-quarter earnings report today. (When Facebook reported its earnings in afterhours trading, Facebook’s stock popped 3 percent, then fell 2 percent then, settled near its closing price of $27.43 – all in the space of an hour.)
Is pretty good really good enough for Facebook?
Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A tech writer returns to the internet after a year away from it

Without the retreat of a smartphone, I was forced to come out of my shell in difficult social situations. Without constant distraction, I found I was more aware of others in the moment. I couldn’t have all my interactions on Twitter anymore; I had to find them in real life. My sister, who has dealt with the frustration of trying to talk to me while I’m half listening, half computing for her entire life, loves the way I talk to her now. She says I’m less detached emotionally, more concerned with her well-being — less of a jerk, basically. Additionally, and I don’t know what this has to do with anything, but I cried during Les Miserables. It seemed then, in those first few months, that my hypothesis was right. The internet had held me back from my true self, the better Paul. I had pulled the plug and found the light.
I’m still here: back online after a year without the internet
Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Should we take a breather and stop obsessing over Apple so much?

Apple’s loyal fans may never admit it, but the attention paid to Apple exceeds the company’s actual importance – and that’s saying something, because Apple remains a huge bellwether firm. Yet Apple’s fortunes no longer reflect the direction of the overall stock market or the broader economy. The S&P 500 stock index, for instance, has risen by a handsome 11 percent so far this year, with no help from Apple. A year or two ago, when Apple’s stock was soaring, commentators frequently noted that the movement in Apple’s stock sometimes seemed to drive the entire market up or down. But with Apple’s stock down more than 40 percent from its all-time high last September, that is clearly no longer the case.
Enough About Apple, Already
Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Why an “invisibility cloak” wouldn’t be all that fun

Even if you could be invisible, it wouldn’t be all it is cracked up to be. It is a simple law of physics that interactions are two-way streets, so if you are invisible because nothing interacts with you, then alas, you wouldn’t be able to see—your retina would not intercept light. So there goes all the fun.
Did You Hear About the Real-Life Invisibility Cloak?
Wednesday, March 20, 2013

How do you stifle competition? By calling your competitors “spam”

Several developers say Facebook has chipped away at resources that they have relied on to capture new users on the social network. Facebook recently clamped down on developers’ ability to automatically post items on a user’s wall and customize messages for people, and ran a test that limited how some developers can send alerts to members. All of this essentially reduced developers’ ability to catch the attention of Facebook users. In one email sent by a Facebook executive to several developers in January that was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, the executive acknowledged that the ecosystem had changed and the company was prodding developers to “pay” for distribution. In part, Facebook says some of the tension comes from its efforts to curb spam.
Tensions Rise Between Facebook, Developers
Saturday, March 16, 2013

Google is no longer interested in niche products

The reality, though, is that Google operates at vast scale, and a niche consumer product like Reader just doesn’t move the needle. As crazy as it may sound, today even a billion-dollar business is simply a distraction to Google (unless, of course, it’s well on the way to becoming a five-billion-dollar business). So all those who are signing petitions to Google (and even one to The White House!) are missing the bigger point: that this is a victim of the company’s DNA, one that’s accelerated under Larry Page’s management. Some companies specialize in keeping the status quo, others specialize in moving forward. Google is the latter. If the company maintained every niche product with N thousand fans, even paying ones, it’d become the very bungling bureaucracy we love to hate. For a company with Google’s ethos and standing, any such dead-end, non-revenue-producing product that’s retained is holding others back, and prevents the company from moving forward and making true innovations instead of incremental improvements.
Why Google killed off Google Reader: It was self-defense
Thursday, March 14, 2013

"We are all participants in a user driven Internet, but we are still just the users, nothing more."

The death of Google Reader reveals a problem of the modern Internet that many of us likely have in the back of our heads but are afraid to let surface: We are all participants in a user driven Internet, but we are still just the users, nothing more. No matter how much work we put in to optimize our online presences, our tools and our experiences, we are still at the mercy of big companies controlling the platforms we operate on. When they don’t like what’s happening, even if we do, they can make whatever call they want. And Wednesday night, Google made theirs.
Google Reader Shutdown a Sobering Reminder That ‘Our’ Technology Isn’t Ours
Monday, March 11, 2013
Some of it is likely due to chance, but even if it’s random chance, liking ‘Morgan Freeman’s Voice’ is still one of the 10 most predictive pages for people with high IQ’s,” Stillwell says. “People need to be aware that these likes are giving away more information than you think and that it can be quite personal. Smart People Like Curly Fries and Other Information Facebook Knows About You
Friday, March 8, 2013

Airbnb. Sidecar. TaskRabbit. These companies are all part of the emerging “sharing economy,” a new frictionless ecosystem that allows users to monetize their own goods through mobile and web applications. Recently, several city governments have stepped in to regulate this new industry, often at the behest of entrenched companies that suddenly have found their business models threatened. Arun Sundararajan, an economist and professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business, sits down with US News’ Simon Owens to discuss whether the “sharing economy” can regulate itself or if the government should step in on behalf of consumers.