Media & Marketing

Why Amazon’s Newly-Bought Twitch Has Value

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I'm not sure why Amazon is the one who wants to own Twitch, but it must be part of the merchant's desire to broaden more fully into online media and become a real network of entertainment and content. This elucidating review of a Twitch viewing experience from Re/code underscores several things: the uniqueness of the platform's interface and viewing experience, the immaturity of many of its users, and the power of the brand among those testosterone-fueled boys and young men. It could be a dicey property for a would-be decorous part of the global media landscape to manage, but Bezos thought it was worth a billion dollars, so anybody who wants to know where media is going needs to be alert to it.   More

E-Commerce Government

Governments and Sharing: Lessons from the UK’s Beyond Jobs Project

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What can governments do to boost the sharing economy? What would be their incentive to do so? Where are the commercial opportunities if public policy were to fully embrace sharing transactions? I have spent 20 years writing, consulting, and overseeing publicly funded projects based on these questions. The answers in brief: governments are potentially the biggest buyers of fragmented labor, its regulators, setters of tax/welfare codes, administrators of databases of record, and ideally will serve as marketing machines for economic initiatives.   More

Internet of Things

Making Dumb Things Smart

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Our physical world is now technology-enabled by the digitization of everything from books to movies to tools—such as the flashlights, cameras, calculators, day planners, music players, and bus schedules that now reside on our smartphones. The Internet and digital technology is most powerful when it is married back into our physical world; when atoms and bytes converge. This intersection also happens to be the source of greatest potential for the Internet of Things (IoT). For the past several years, we’ve heard and talked a lot about how smart things are getting smarter through Moore’s law and the exponential advances in core digital components.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Healthcare

Scripps Bio-Chemist Romesberg: Proteins and Enzymes Could Transform Industry and Medicine

How can a better understanding of evolution help us improve human health? Renowned bio-chemist Floyd Romesberg of the Scripps Research Institute can think of a few ways. For one, cancer cells evolve and grow by “out-competing” neighboring cells, a process Romesberg calls “evolution just run faster than we’re used to.” We spoke to Romesberg at our recent Techonomy Bio event in Mountain View, Calif. He says understanding how our genomes have evolved will give us insights into the genetic diseases we get, and help us treat them. But to fully comprehend the evolutionary process, we have to look at proteins. “Understanding how proteins function is absolutely essential to our understanding of life,” said Romesberg.   More

E-Commerce

Detroit’s Chalkfly Brings Social Good to Office Supplies

Chalkfly co-founders Ryan (left) and Andrew Landau

Andrew and Ryan Landau attended rival universities in Michigan, then left the state after graduation to pursue jobs at Google and IBM. But the pull of home, and the prospect of being part of a burgeoning entrepreneurial renaissance, brought the brothers back to Detroit to launch an innovative e-commerce company. Chalkfly, their fast-growing two-year-old office-supply e-commerce company, lets users donate 5 percent of each sale directly to teachers. Andrew calls the chance to work with his brother and be part of Detroit's revitalization an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.   More

Bio & Life Sciences

Are Scientists Selfish?

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We often hear that scientists hoard data, refusing to share information even when doing so might speed advances to patients in dire need. It’s not just about sharing results on the fly—once a project has been completed and findings published in a journal, most of us observers outside major institutions still can’t get access due to expensive subscriptions. The situation is made all the more unpalatable since most biomedical research is funded by taxpayer dollars. Yet the average taxpayer has little ability to see what comes of that funding.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Healthcare

Could Reprogrammed Cells Fight “Untreatable” Diseases?

Loring (front row, center) and her team at the Center for Regenerative Medicine. (Image via www.scripps.edu)

Jeanne Loring and her Scripps Research Institute colleagues transplanted a set of cells into the spinal cords of mice that had lost use of their hind limbs to multiple sclerosis. As the experimentalists expected, within a week, the mice rejected the cells. But after another week, the mice began to walk. "We thought that they wouldn't do anything," says Loring, who directs the Center for Regenerative Medicine at Scripps. But as her lab has since shown numerous times, something that these particular so-called "neural precursor cells" do before the immune system kicks them out seems to make the mouse better.   More

Business E-Commerce

New Economics: Sharing Isn’t Free, and Price Gouging Isn’t Mean

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The pros and cons of the so-called "sharing economy" are getting plenty of press these days. Consider the diverse takes this week from Technology Review, the New York Times, and the Kansas City Star. In a Times report about workers who are finding "both freedom and uncertainty" in the contract employment trend, Natasha Singer explains how Navy veteran Jennifer Guidry attempts to help cover her family's food and rent costs with popup gigs.   More

Global Tech Mobile

Apple, Samsung Face China Telco Freeze-out

Mobile phone users in Beijing (image via Shutterstock)

Cost-cutting pressure is putting a squeeze on China’s three big telcos, creating an unusual set of conditions that could claim smartphone giants Samsung and Apple as victims. The latest signs of trouble for the world’s two largest smartphone makers comes in the form of an article in the English language China Daily newspaper, calling on China’s big three mobile carriers to stop offering packages with Samsung and Apple smartphones and instead only offer models from domestic manufacturers like Lenovo, ZTE, and Huawei.   More

Analytics & Data Cities

Wisely Harnesses Spending for a Local Business Guide

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Like most people, you probably read online product and service reviews with a healthy grain of salt. But if users doubt the credibility of online recommendations, how can sites that curate them earn consumers’ trust and loyalty? Michigan-based Wisely set out to do precisely that when it created a new kind of local discovery app that gathers real transaction data from customers, such as how much they spend at a restaurant, instead of subjective information like customer reviews. We spoke with Wisely co-founder and CEO Mike Vichich about what Wisely does for small businesses, and why building an “awesome” Michigan starts in Detroit.   More

Global Tech

It’s Getting Complicated for Growing Chinese Smartphone Makers

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Smartphone makers Xiaomi and Huawei are learning tough new lessons this week, reflecting intense competition in the overheated market where a feisty field of Chinese players are vying for a place alongside global leaders Apple and Samsung. News in the smartphone space has been coming nonstop over the past year, as a crop of larger players including Xiaomi, Huawei, ZTE and Lenovo compete with smaller but equally aggressive names like Coolpad and Oppo in their home market.   More

Finance

Upstart’s P2P Lending Platform Aims at Young Borrowers

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For would-be borrowers with little credit history, getting a loan can be a nightmare. But one important group of applicants are young, well educated, and entrepreneurial—and would probably be favorable credit risks. Techonomy asked Dave Girouard to respond to questions about how lending platforms like Upstart can help investors and borrowers alike.   More

Global Tech

Lebanon’s Serial Entrepreneur Bets on Online Acceleration

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Samer Karam has been a war photojournalist, a banker, an entrepreneur, and a PhD student. But these days, the Gen-X techie is focused on enabling the success of others. His online accelerator Alice, based in London, welcomes startups from anywhere in the world to apply for mentoring and funding. Karam, who also founded and recently closed Beirut’s first accelerator, Seeqnce, is known as one of Lebanon’s most prominent tech mentors.   More

Internet of Things

Ten Ways Connected Devices Will Impact Every Organization

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This year, the number of mobile-connected devices will exceed the world’s population. To survive the coming decade, most organizations will have to respond in some way to the rise of connected devices. As connected products, connected logistics, and connected phones become ubiquitous, they create value for users and risks for companies. For companies that make durable physical products it’s easy to imagine a digitally connected version. For companies that make consumables, the Internet of Things is slated to revolutionize logistics. For both, ubiquitous connected mobile devices are already changing commerce, workflow, and customer relationships.   More

Bio & Life Sciences

Talking to “Biologist’s Imagination” Author William Hoffman

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In a new book called "The Biologist’s Imagination," authors William Hoffman and Leo Furcht from the University of Minnesota Medical School take a spin through the history of biological innovation in an effort to shed light on current trends and expected future developments. The authors weave historical threads—such as pioneering studies of genetic traits in the mid-19th century and the effects of the animals and diseases brought to the Americas in the wake of Columbus crossing the Atlantic—to help readers make sense of what’s happening today.The book covers a number of topics relevant to Techonomy, so we chatted with Hoffman to find out more.   More

Finance

Benzinga: The Detroit-based Online Investing Tool for Average Joes

Benziga's offices in Detroit.

When Jason Raznick set out to create an online financial service to help the average investor, he didn’t gravitate to New York City’s center of global finance. He launched it from his basement in Birmingham, Michigan. Recognizing the need for a service that delivers quality investment information to people who don’t have a Wall Streeter’s access to real-time data, he figured his hometown was as good a place as any to get started. Now operating in Detroit, Benzinga continues to grow its audience as the rise of community-based, social investing continues to transform the industry.   More

Analytics & Data Security & Privacy

Is Fighting Evil with Google a Good Thing?

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Google's code of conduct famously instructs its staff, board members, and contractors, "Don't be evil." Those who fail to follow the code are subject to disciplinary action and termination. Can the company extend the code to Gmail users? It already has. CBS News reports this week that Google informed the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that a Gmail account holder in Texas "was allegedly sending explicit images of a young girl to a friend."   More

Learning Mobile

Siri Co-founder: Speech Recognition Ready for Leap Forward

Speech recognition has been around a lot longer than Siri, but Apple’s dulcet-toned digital assistant helped bring the technology to a mass audience, and inspire futuristic visions like the one voiced by Scarlett Johanssen in “Her.” Adam Cheyer, one of the co-founders of Siri (acquired by Apple in 2010), says speech recognition is poised to become more widely used and more sophisticated.   More

Healthcare

B-School Buddies Want to Battle Cancer with Big Data

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Wharton graduates Nat Turner and Zach Weinberg are only 28, but they already know enough about building a business to warrant a profile in Fortune Magazine. They sold an advertising and exchange bidding startup to Google for $80 million four years ago. And Google Ventures has backed their current venture, the oncology platform Flatiron Health, with $100 million.   More

E-Commerce Global Tech

Bitcoin Momentum Grows in Emerging Markets

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Bitcoin is gradually making progress as a medium of exchange in developing countries. While it can be volatile as an investment asset, it has real utility as an instrument for payment and money transfer, especially in places where conventional payment systems are immature. Because Bitcoin facilitates instant payment through peer-to-peer technology, most transactions can be completed in less than 10 minutes no matter how distant the two parties are. In addition, each transaction is recorded in a public ledger, enhancing transparency and trustworthiness.   More