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 July 24th, 2017 by Crowded Ocean
Check out Tom and Carol interviewed about The Ultimate Startup Guide:
Listen to KGO Radio 810 Techonomics with host Jason Middleton
- Part one (11:44 minutes)
- Part two (19:06 minutes)
Check out more about Techonomics Radio on Facebook.
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.
Posted On March 28th, 2017 by Crowded Ocean
Your startup must have a few chiefs already: chief executive officer, chief technology officer, chief marketing officer…and maybe now you’re considering hiring a Chief of Staff which is a role that’s becoming popular in larger startups. (See our recent blog on this trend.)
But it turns out there is a veritable explosion of chiefs out there: everything from Chief Customer Officer to Chief Wonk to Chief Algorithms Officer. After a quick tour through LinkedIn, we found a bunch of noteworthy titles listed below. Title inflation? Hard to say. But as a watcher of trends, both good and bad, we caution all startup teams to go easy on handing out the title “chief” (primarily because higher equity expectations come with that title).
Taking a bit of editorial license here: remember that too many chiefs in the kitchen spoil the MVP…
Chief Revenue Officer
Chief Algorithms Officer
Chief Innovation Officer
Chief Data Scientist
Chief People Officer
Chief Network Architect
Chief Product Officer
Chief Culture and Talent Officer
Chief Customer Officer
And they’re hiring:
Chief Merchandising Officer
Chief Impact Officer
Posted On November 15th, 2016 by Crowded Ocean
USB condom: a device that blocks the risk of hacking or the transfer of computer viruses when a mobile device is plugged into a public USB port for power or recharging.
“Lights out” factories: a factory that is so completely automated it needs no interior illumination.
Fake news problem: this is a problem that Facebook is grappling with in the wake of their inability to filter out false information that’s posted as “news” on their website today.
Posted On October 11th, 2016 by Crowded Ocean
Glass cliff: according to The New York Times, it’s the theory that holds that women are often placed in positions of power when the situation is dire, men are uninterested and the likelihood of success is low.
Sharenting: the practice of online sharing of parenting, including the posting of children at very early ages, shapes the identity (and privacy) of children and that digital identity can follow a child into adulthood.
Behavior design: a principle of software design that coaxes us into adopting new behaviors or habits, as in rewarding the poster of a photo on Facebook with instant “likes”.
Conversational computing: the new market category of consumer and computing products popularized by Siri, Alexa and Echo, are artificially intelligent devices.
Posted On August 23rd, 2016 by Crowded Ocean
Before Tom went into the technology industry, I was an historian—specifically, a Lecturer in Holocaust and Genocide Studies (happy guy, I know). And one of the things that we History dweebs would do when we got together was wonder, out loud, what events of today are going to be ‘history-altering’ and which of them, though seemingly important at the moment, are going to be quickly forgotten (see: Trump, Donald).
History is a matter of perspective: the later you come along, the more perspective you have.
For example, it’s hard to image Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, over a glass of wine in Florence in the early 1500’s, musing to each other: ‘Isn’t it great to be alive during the Renaissance?’ Why? Because they were caught up in something so new that it didn’t have a name. In short, they lacked the perspective to appreciate how unique their situation was.
Why all this historical musing? Because we have an opportunity that those who have come before us haven’t. We’re living in a time that is easily the equal of the Renaissance (or Industrial Revolution) in terms of its impact—and we should appreciate it now, not in our dotage. Just as the printing press and steam engine dramatically changed the world, so, too, have the internet and the PC/smartphone. And these tools are only a couple of decades old: think what the world will be like as they mature and their availability extends to every corner of the globe.
At Crowded Ocean, given the wide range of companies and industries we work with, we have a ringside seat to a variety of new technologies. Are any of them as potentially impactful as the internet or the PC/smartphone? Probably not (though we’re just scratching the surface of what Artificial Intelligence can do), but it’s important for all of us—not just those of us in the business—to stand back every now and then and marvel at the world we’re living in today and speculate on what tomorrow will bring.
Posted On January 27th, 2016 by Crowded Ocean
In its earliest days Oracle was a very elitist place to work. Its workforce was determinedly young (average age: 24 in 1990) and was generally recruited from a very small number of schools: Harvard, MIT, Stanford and Carnegie Mellon—with a few outliers). And, of course, GPAs figured prominently into the hiring decision.
Fast forward to today. I was talking to an Oracle VP the other day and she was telling me that her new department had six programmers—two with Ivy degrees, two with degrees from UC and two who had only graduated high school and who had gone directly into programming.
Earlier this month, I wound up at a fundraiser with a Gartner analyst and the conversation came to the makeup of his department. He said that he didn’t even check GPA—most of the time he didn’t even check what school they attended. The two things that mattered were:
- that they had attended a university; and
- what they had done since graduation. In other words, accomplishment post-graduation trumped accomplishment pre-graduation.
In the old world there was a hierarchy: in this area, the people who went to community college wound up working for the people who went to a state school, who wound up working for the folks who went to Stanford (maybe Santa Clara). Silicon Valley—with its legion of unschooled developers (and role models like college dropouts Bill Gates and Steve Jobs)—is giving startup entrepreneurs a new hiring model: quite simply, can they do the job? That’s all that matters.
Posted On March 9th, 2015 by Crowded Ocean
We think there are five reasons that assholes abound in Silicon Valley:
- Startups are led by the single-minded. Startups are famously founded and led by incredibly talented, passionate, driven technologists who are often young, single-minded and unburdened by the baggage of maturity (mortgage, family, 529 funds for their kids). That combination of youth, talent and freedom comes at a price. Often it’s a lack of grace, emotional intelligence, and empathy that can come across as arrogance and impatience with the rest of us who just don’t get it. (at least not as quickly as the founder) That’s why so many startups outgrow their brash and brilliant founder, and that’s why “adult supervision” is an important ingredient in a successful startup with staying power.
- Startups lack diversity. They are over-staffed with men, with the majority of those men being white. Studies show that diversity (more women and more members with different skills) encourages teamwork and better outcomes of those teams. In other words, if the success of your startup depends upon teamwork, you’ll have smarter, more effective teams if you mix it up with different kinds of talent and more women.
- Nerds are still the core of the Valley labor pool. They may not have tape on their glasses, but the core of most startups is still the engineers and those guys often mask their lack of social skills with arrogance and asshole behavior.
- Assholes hire assholes. Hard-charging, fast-growing startups often have a hard time establishing policies and processes at the right time to support their growing organization. Consequently, jerks and assholes can get away with bad behavior in such an environment. (And talented assholes in a vital role become someone that everyone puts up with because their contribution is so important.) And if you’ve got an asshole involved in the interviewing and hiring process, then assholes are guaranteed to make their way into your organization.
- Steve Jobs was an asshole. As we’ve commented before, every founder that we encounter who exhibits boorish behavior justifies it by recounting some Jobs story. Our counter: Steve Jobs wasn’t successful because he was an asshole. Steve Jobs was successful AND he was an asshole.
When it comes to building a successful startup, we’re big believers in the “no assholes rule” but, unfortunately, it doesn’t always work in Silicon Valley.
Posted On December 31st, 2012 by Crowded Ocean
New developments in Silicon Valley span both new technologies and the marketing strategies to reach, engage and develop new customers. Below are some of the developments that intrigued us this past year:
Cognitive computing – as advances in machine vision and artificial intelligence converge with the ubiquity of sensors and the proliferation of big data, scientists are predicting a new age of computers that can learn and interpret in more “human” ways. This is the age of cognitive computing.
Twitter marketing – as Twitter’s advance continues, we’ll see this social marketing channel used by innovative marketers as a platform for marketing campaigns, contests and more.
Anticipatory computing – building upon the notion of a “social graph” originally pioneered by Facebook, technologists are working to take to the next level the idea that a software application can not only learn about your preferences and needs, but it can make useful suggestions by actually anticipating your needs. Will new startups blaze this trail and even build upon the work that Google started with Google Now?
Comeback of simplicity – As we wrote about last August, simplicity isn’t what it used to be. There are simple, no-frills websites with spare design (think Craigslist and Wikipedia.) But it’s the simplicity and clarity of message as the bedrock of your unique value proposition that interests us. If your startup can’t boil down your value and differentiation into a crisp and memorable statement that your entire team can learn and use, go back to the drawing board. Or better yet, hire us.