Posted On November 16th, 2017 by Crowded Ocean
Analog fever: Call it the rise of the retro or the nostalgic in modern culture, but a reaction to the digital revolution is emerging in the popularity of hybrid design in consumer products that combines simple design with embedded computers.
Meta-learning: A growing trend in AI research is to enable AI-enabled computer systems to master new skills. This will be a significant advance over the single-task systems and robots we know today.
Ethical hacking: When a corporation hires a team of “white hat” software developers or testers, it’s harnessing the power of the good guys to combat the “black hat” bad guys. Companies like @bugcrowd (former Crowded Ocean client) and others (HackerOne, Synack) use crowd-sourced vulnerability testing to help corporations prevent cyber attacks. This white-hat hacker explains all about it here.
YIMBY: New groups have formed in cities around the globe lobbying for the development of affordable housing. They call themselves “yimbys” for “Yes in my backyard”. The movement started in – wait for it – Silicon Valley where the cost of housing, including rental costs, is among the highest in the U.S.
Posted On October 24th, 2017 by Crowded Ocean
Sensor-veillance: Law professor Andrew Ferguson warns that we are entering this new era when “we can expect one device or another (think Fitbit, smartphone, webcam) to be monitoring us much of the time.”
Reverse mentoring: Need a lesson on best practices in social media or how to hire millenials? Maybe you, or your senior executives, need to seek out regular coaching sessions from younger employees. The trend is called reverse mentoring and it’s being embraced by older leaders of established companies around the globe.
Cognitive diversity: Like its cousin “viewpoint diversity”, this trendy notion is that a homogeneous group of, say, a dozen white men could actually represent “diversity” if they bring different life experiences to their job or role in society. The concern, of course is that the goal of racial and gender diversity (the “traditional” or “old-fashioned” kind of diversity) is sidelined by this new idea.
Phubbing: That’s short for “phone snubbing” and it’s the common practice of snubbing others in favor of your mobile phones.
Posted On October 4th, 2017 by Crowded Ocean
Flow: to push back on the tyranny of deadlines, email, and interruptions of social media that makes us surrender to our devices, evangelists are encouraging us to pursue “flow” which is a state of being so engaged and concentrated on a single pursuit/thought/project that we lose track of time. In achieving flow, proponents say you can integrate the mind and body into “embodied cognition”.
ICOs: that’s “initial coin offerings” that are an alternative to venture funding. According to this feature in the Wall Street Journal, “the main reason to do an ICO is to use the token as a means of exchange for a real blockchain technology for some tradable digital asset, but many startups are using ICOs just to raise capital,” said Ethan Kurzweil, a partner at Bessemer.
Moral disengagement: when a problem, rule-breaking kid grows up to be an asshole, law-breaking entrepreneur (think Martin Shkreli), researchers call that “moral disengagement”
Backdoor IPO: a “special purpose acquisition company” (SPAC) is an alternative investment path for startups to tap into public market without the roadshow, publicity, etc. For VC-backed companies, a SPAC could restart the IPO pipeline that has been stalled for years. According to this article in the Wall Street Journal, “unlike a traditional IPO, SPACs first raise money through a stock offering and then hunt for a deal on which to spend the funds raised. CNBC explains the role of the SPAC, or so-called “backdoor IPO” here.
Bone conduction audio: Amazon is pioneering a new way for a wireless personal device to be heard without having to insert headphones. First application will be a pair of “smart glasses” (remember “glass-holes”?) that will enable the user to access virtual assistant Alexa.
Posted On September 12th, 2017 by Crowded Ocean
Dark UX: the UI architects at sites like Facebook are investing in research and testing of subtle changes with “persuasive technologies” to their site to go beyond “increased engagement” by users to foster non-stop interaction, and critics say addiction. There is a sliding scale of intrusiveness, manipulation and safety attributes to elements of Dark UX say industry watchers.
SPAC: the new “special purpose acquisition vehicle” is an alternative route to public ownership for tech startups. According to this article in the Wall Street Journal, “unlike a traditional IPO, SPACs first raise money through a stock offering and then hunt for a deal on which to spend the funds raised.
Liquid democracy: making the power of the vote a digital capability that is combined with blockchains to make it secure as well as borderless. Theoretically, this would be the system that would allow a voter to delegate their vote to someone to represent them. The New Scientist explains in this article. There is even a Liquid Democracy organization based in Berlin.
Biohacking: the latest craze in self-improvement in Silicon Valley combines intermittent fasting with tracking of vital signs like body composition and blood glucose levels.
Posted On August 22nd, 2017 by Crowded Ocean
‘Resters and Vesters’: talented engineers who have lots of unvested shares of stock in privately held but “hot” startups are said to be “coasting” along and not really working that hard.
DNA data storage: researchers have now demonstrated how data can be converted from the 1s and 0s of binary code to the As, Cs, Gs and Ts of human genetic code. Because of that, researchers predict that the space-saving potential of data stored in DNA will be the solution to the enormous need for data storage. Theoretically, DNA storage could provide a cheaper and more environmentally sound alternative to huge server farms. There is a short shelf life to data stored on hard disks, flash drives, mag tape and DVDs, but data stored in DNA is believed to be able to last thousands of years.
Doxxing: according to an article in Recode, doxxing is “searching for and publishing private or identifying information about an individual on the internet, typically with malicious intent.”
Smart dust: according to the Wall Street Journal, this is “tiny, wireless micro-electromechanical systems that can detect measurements such as light and temperature.”
Foiling: the latest sports craze in Silicon Valley – and favored by many tech entrepreneurs – is called hydrofoiling, or foiling for short. The sport combines a small surfboard with rudder, motor and kite.
Posted On August 1st, 2017 by Crowded Ocean
Chipmunk speed: podcast fans are flooded with so many choices of content these days that avid listeners have started to consume content at 1.5X or 2X (or more) the normal speed using the feature in the podcast app settings. Maybe this is a new way to keep up with your friends and startup denizens: speed-listen to your favorite podcasts and consume more in the same amount of time.
Smishing: short for “SMS phishing”, this security attack targets a user to download malware onto their cell phone via text message, rather than email.
Cyber-physical systems: that’s a physical system that can be manipulated by digital means, such as an industrial pump, could be vulnerable to a cyber attack. Security researchers at the 2017 BlackHat Conference illustrated how industrial systems in physical infrastructure that’s far beyond traditional security barriers, can be quietly hacked.
Bimodal IT: the new label for corporations that are managing legacy systems while embracing new technologies like AI and machine learning. According to a recent survey of CIOs, senior IT managers and other IT decision makers, 79% said they are already or are planning to adopt a bimodal IT strategy this year.
Posted On July 11th, 2017 by Crowded Ocean
New-collar jobs: an emerging job category in the U.S. is skilled workers who do not have a four-year college degree but who can qualify for so-called “middle-skill” jobs Economists applaud the trend as a new route to the middle class and evidence of opportunities through skills-based jobs.
Manterruptions: California Senator Kamala Harris was repeatedly interrupted during her questioning of Attorney General Jeff Sessions during a Senate Committee hearing in June. As a result, she’s become the poster child for this bad habit and the double standard that women leaders experience in the workplace. Her predecessor in this controversy surfaced two years ago in the lawsuit against venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins filed by female partner Ellen Pao. Pao described the company culture at KP as “interrupt-driven” and was even offered “interrupt coaching” to help her acquire the skills to hold her own with aggressive male colleagues.
Steganography: a new source of cyber security alarm is the concept of hackers hiding malicious code or content inside benign software. It’s possible, for example, to hide malicious information inside an image.
Posted On June 28th, 2017 by Crowded Ocean
In today’s increasingly competitive hiring market, the advantage is clearly with the job candidate, not the company. As a result, companies often hire rapidly, only to regret the lack of a strong vetting process later, when the new hire turns out to either be overmatched or a poor cultural fit.
The former is rarely the case when it comes to technical hires, since their peers are generally able to sniff out the overmatched candidate in early interviews. But in roles with broader, less defined boundaries, such as Marketing and Sales, it seems to be easier to make a hiring mistake. Sometimes, it’s that technical founders lack the experience and instincts to successfully hire a non-technical role and this is a problem that VC board members often identify as a common early stumble.
Cultural diversity pays off in building for the next growth stage
One way startup founders can limit their hiring mistakes is to get an outside perspective. A startup runs at a certain pace and has a certain set of values, which often makes it difficult to recognize the potential of a candidate who doesn’t immediately fit into that cocoon-like environment. But consider two things: 1) the candidate who doesn’t immediately fit may broaden the company’s perspective, leading to more success; and 2) that same candidate may be a better fit for the next stage of the company—just when the earlier-stage employees are running out of ceiling.
As we’ve noted in these earlier blog posts, “Diversity in your startup: psychological diversity”, and “When should your startup focus on diversity”, hiring for diversity pays off in smarter decisions and better business. So, whether it’s a Board member or a trusted Friend of the Company (an advisor who has some incentive, such as equity, to dedicate time and effort to the process), broaden your hiring process to get the fullest possible perspective—and the best possible candidate.
Posted On June 13th, 2017 by Crowded Ocean
Prebuttal: a pre-emptive rebuttal, a prebuttal is familiar to anyone following politics and the circus that is President Trump’s administration and Washington D.C. these days.
Neurotech: an emerging field that combines neurology, neuroscience, neurosurgery and the hardware of smartphones is changing the lives of people with innovations like deep-brain stimulators.
Neural lace technology: a hardware innovation of billions of tiny brain electrodes that “may one day allow us to upload and download thoughts,” according to Elon Musk.
FAANG stocks: the giants of technology stocks are closely watched and often trade up and down as a block. That’s FAANG, which stands for Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google (Alphabet).
Posted On May 31st, 2017 by Crowded Ocean
Fat startup: According to the New York Times, the changes in capital markets now favor startups with grander visions and needs for funding levels on the order of hundreds of millions of dollars. As a result, “ideas that once seemed too expensive, too risky or just too crazy are now getting off the ground.” These start-ups are “fat” with capital funding and ambition.
Stack logic: The concept of a “software stack” is well understood in tech-land as separate layers of software working together to accomplish a task. The metaphor of a stack has now bled over to futurists and trend-watchers to describe a common set of resources according to this recent New York Times article.
Genericide: So far, the courts have held up the trademark protection of “Google” but it is quickly following the path of aspirin by transitioning into the mainstream as a verb and thereby causing Alphabet (the Google mother ship) to lose its trademark protection.
Hiring pipeline: This phrase is being used over and over to explain why real progress in gender and ethnic diversity is not evident in management and leadership roles at technology companies. As the theory goes, there simply aren’t enough qualified women or people of color coming into the candidate pool. But there’s more to it, of course.