Business E-Commerce

Alibaba Picks NYSE, Plays with Yahoo, Football

alibaba

It’s been two weeks since I’ve written a post exclusively about leading e-commerce company Alibaba, so I thought I’d end the week with a round-up of a few company news bits including its selection of the New York Stock Exchange for its highly-anticipated IPO. In related news, the company’s major shareholder Yahoo is reportedly in talks to reduce its planned sale of Alibaba shares in the offering. Last but not least, Alibaba has formally added its name to one of its latest acquisitions, a stake in one of China’s leading soccer clubs.   More

Business E-Commerce

How Warby Parker Doubles Down on Disruption and Social Change

The technology-driven eyewear company Warby Parker has bigger fish to fry than disrupting an industry and hooking up consumers with hip, inexpensive glasses, although it’s done a pretty good job of that so far. “We started Warby Parker with two goals in mind,” said company co-founder David Gilboa at a recent Venture for America event. The first goal was to transform “a $65 billion industry that had been ripping consumers off for decades … by creating our own vertically integrated brand.” In so doing the company is able to offer glasses for $95 that, according to Gilboa, would normally sell for $500-$600. Warby Parker’s second goal, said Gilboa, is to prove that a for-profit business can have “a massive positive impact in the world.”   More

Business E-Commerce

Why Warby Parker Admires Tesla’s Disruptive Drive

Warby Parker has used tech tools to shake up the eyewear industry, making high quality glasses available to consumers for a fraction of what they used to pay. Meanwhile, insurgent carmaker Tesla is changing the way people think about driving, but has run into regulatory roadblocks in its attempt to subvert traditional distribution models. At the recent Venture for America Summer Celebration, we asked Warby Parker co-founder David Gilboa for his thoughts on Tesla and its founder Elon Musk. Unsurprisingly, Gilboa is a fan. "[Musk] is one of the most brilliant thinkers alive, and one of the biggest thinkers alive," he said.   More

Business Global Tech

Huawei, ZTE on Global Hiring Sprees

huawei-zte

The embattled telecoms pair of Huawei and ZTE are embarking on major hiring sprees outside their home market, seeking to not only import foreign expertise but also foreign faces as they try to look more global and less Chinese. That’s my major takeaway on reading separate reports that ZTE is launching a drive to recruit workers from two struggling western cellphone giants, while Huawei is also hiring thousands of new employees in Europe to cater to its largest market outside of China.   More

Business

Dorsey’s First Square Scribbles

This Dorsey drawing from February 2009 illustrates how the smartphone interface might reflect a payment, as a user swipes a card, confirms a purchase, and signs.

In February 2009 Jack Dorsey had recently departed from Twitter, which he co-founded. When his longtime friend Jim McKelvey, a glass blower from St. Louis, lost out on the sale of a $2,000 piece because he was unable to accept credit cards, together they realized that their powerful smartphone devices should be able to process credit cards. So Jack sat down in his apartment with engineer Tristan O’Tierney and drew a series of rough sketches to show how a smartphone credit card app might work. Over that year, he continued elaborating his vision with more drawings.   More

Business E-Commerce

How to Regulate the Sharing Economy

MIT's Andrew McAfee spoke at Techonomy 2012 about the impact of robotics on the job market.

Techonomists Arun Sundararajan and Andrew McAfee were among seven who contributed to a debate in The New York Times last week about how to handle the disruptive economic effects of the emerging sharing economy. The Times asked the pundits to consider whether the apps and online services that are powering the sharing economy, such as Airbnb, Uber, and TaskRabbit, are “cutting edge conveniences that should be encouraged, or money-making businesses that need more regulation?”   More

Business

Techonomy 2014 Report

We hope you enjoy this digital version of our 2014 Techonomy magazine. It includes four exclusive feature articles plus shorter techonomic items, along with content from our 2013 conferences. You'll find Jack Dorsey's original drawings for Square, Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini's grim diagnosis and aggressive course of treatment for American health care, David Kirkpatrick's assessment of Facebook's Internet.org initiative, and much more.   More

Business Global Tech

Is Innovation Exploding or Expiring?

Nik Gowing of BBC World News speaks during the State of Innovation session at the Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2013 in Dalian, China. (Photo: World Economic Forum/Qilai Shen)

Is global innovation waxing or waning? That depends on who you listen to. How we react to economic transitions can depend on the stories we hear and repeat about them. As Nobel laureate Robert Shiller puts it, sometimes these stories “inspire us to go out and spend, start businesses, build new factories and office buildings.” Other times, “they put fear in our hearts and impel us to sit tight, save our resources, curtail spending, and reduce risk.” So it may be with today’s competing narratives on innovation: one portrays a civilization that has run out of big ideas; the other suggests we are on the brink of a new industrial revolution.   More

Business Global Tech

This Emerging Markets Credit Card Is Backed by Facebook Friends

TarjetaColpatria_Alta

Bogota might soon be home to thousands more online shoppers. That’s where Lenddo introduced a “social network” Visa card to 100,000 of its customers yesterday afternoon. By 3:00 p.m. yesterday in New York, where the online lender for developing countries is based, more than 1,000 Colombians had applied for the card. Lenddo CEO and co-founder Jeff Stewart calls it the first time ever, anywhere, that approval for a credit card is based on applicants’ reputations on Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, and Twitter. In emerging markets, even a steady reliable income and good education are generally no guarantee of access to credit for members of the middle class.   More

Business Mobile

Kirkpatrick: Amazon Smartphone Move “Brilliant”

Come September, the hottest phone on the market might not be the iPhone, Galaxy, or Nexus, but a new 3D-capable smartphone developed by none other than Amazon. The Internet behemoth has been considering making a foray into the smartphone market, according to a recent report in The Wall Street Journal, and is likely to publicly announce plans in June and go to market as early as September. Techonomy's David Kirkpatrick spoke on Bloomberg Surveillance on Monday about Amazon's possible push into smartphones, calling the move "brilliant" and noting its potential for connecting customer relations with mobile payments. "If you were trying to keep an ongoing relationship for all kinds of commercial relationships with everybody, you have to have a phone," Kirkpatrick said. And for companies hoping to get a return from consumers, transactions are paramount.   More

Business

McKinsey’s Michael Chui on How Tech Transforms the Economy

For insight into big emerging tech trends, look beyond Silicon Valley and Alley, said McKinsey's Michael Chui at a recent Techonomy dinner salon in San Francisco. The developing world is about to jump into the innovation economy. "Only half of the people that we can possibly connect in the world are actually connected." Once those people get connected, he believes, the world will see double the innovation it sees today, as potential innovators in now-developing countries get online. This expansion of connectivity will be enabled by the global mobile revolution, or what Chui called "the proliferation of form factors"—ranging from tablets and phablets to appliances and cars. Chui pointed to education, healthcare, and public services as sectors of the economy with the greatest potential to gain efficiency as they are transformed by tech.   More

Business Learning

Educating Executives to Disrupt, Not Be Disrupted

The Drugs Dilemma: Consequences for Society, Politics and Business: Overview

Much has been written about how technology is transforming education. Still more has been written about how technology is driving disruption in business. Less explored is a question posed by the intersection of those ideas: how can technology help business leaders to educate themselves about potentially disruptive opportunities and threats? The MOOC model is ripe for adaptation to deliver structured courses to business leaders, helping them to think about potentially transformational combinations of ideas at the periphery of their industries. The Forum Academy, launching this month with a course on global technology leadership, is a foray into this space. The World Economic Forum is partnering with edX to use its education delivery platform for expanding access to the kind of conversations that happen at Davos.   More

Business Security & Privacy

BlackBerry CEO Chen: Security Is Key to Comeback

BlackBerry CEO John Chen, who's been at the helm for just four months, has a looming task ahead of him—bring the once-booming brand back to its glory days. At Techonomy's recent San Francisco dinner salon, Chen talked with us about the future of BlackBerry, citing its security systems as one key way the company can turn itself around. "It's the most secure mobile environment," Chen said. "Today in this world of security complexity, people are not only stealing the data but they're modifying the data. It's an enormous opportunity."   More

Business

A Website That Attempts the Impossible

Impossible.com is showing us that doing kind acts for others—even perfect strangers—is in fact very much possible. The new online community, already established in the U.K. and currently launching in the U.S., aims to advance the gift economy by serving as a platform for transactionless giving and receiving—that is, people doing nice things for other people without expecting anything in return. Created by British model, actress, and brand ambassador Lily Cole, Impossible is meant to explore the social value of connecting through giving. Cole traveled to New York last month to promote Impossible, appearing on Charlie Rose alongside Techonomy’s David Kirkpatrick and Jonathan Zittrain, a professor at Harvard Law School and the co-founder of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society.   More

Business

Jaron Lanier on Facebook and the Creepy Possibilities for Virtual Reality

(Flickr / The American Library Association)

When Facebook announced last week that it had agreed to acquire Oculus VR, “the leader in virtual reality technology,” for $2 billion, techies and journalists everywhere wondered: What does Jaron Lanier think of this? Lanier, the dreadlocked futurist now working at Microsoft Research, was a virtual reality pioneer—he coined the term. More recently, he’s been a prolific critic of so-called Web 2.0 companies like Google and Facebook, bucking very publicly against their business models in books like "Who Owns the Future?" The Fiscal Times spoke with Lanier this week to get more of his thoughts about the deal, Mark Zuckerberg’s vision, and the future of virtual reality. Among his insights: “The biggest variable as to how creepy Facebook will be in the future is whether Zuck has kids or not.”   More

Business

From Messaging to Gaming, Mark Zuckerberg Is Buying

Just five weeks after acquiring mobile messaging app WhatsApp (for a whopping $19 billion), Facebook announced Tuesday it plans to buy Oculus, the virtual reality headset startup that's been the talk of the town—the gaming town, that is—even though it has yet to send a single product to market. The $2 billion buyout includes 23.1 million shares of Facebook stock and $400 million in cash. Techonomy CEO and Bloomberg contributing editor David Kirkpatrick appeared on Bloomberg Surveillance Wednesday to talk about Facebook’s objectives in acquiring Oculus, both now and in the future. “They can win with this purchase,” Kirkpatrick said, adding that Oculus can help Facebook achieve its short-term goal of building a stronger gaming platform.   More

Business

Techonomists Weigh in on Tech’s Future at Our San Francisco Salon

Techonomy hosted a salon dinner in San Francisco, in partnership with BlackBerry, and we took a few guests aside for further insight. We asked them, among other things, our usual—how is tech innovation changing society? Michael Chui of McKinsey Global Institute celebrated having such conversation in the Bay Area, noting its world-class universities and venture capitalists, adding up to a “cauldron of interpersonal connections” that spur innovation. But with more and more people coming online, Chui foresees developing countries playing an increasing role in a more global cauldron of innovation. BlackBerry’s John Chen thinks the future is in the machine-to-machine interconnectivity, as software and devices help make our lives “more automated, more information driven.”   More

Business Global Tech

Huawei Eyes Big Growth, ZTE Rolls out Game Box

zte-funbox_01

Telecoms giants Huawei and ZTE are in the headlines for their newer product initiatives, as each tries to offset slowing growth in their core telecoms equipment business. Of the pair, Huawei’s news looks the most bullish, with the company targeting a sharp rise in smartphone sales as it sets its sights on overtaking Apple as the world’s second largest seller. Meanwhile, ZTE has formally rolled out its new gaming console, the FunBox, which looks a bit more exciting that I’d originally imagined and carries an extremely low price tag.   More

Business

Techonomy Tips Our Hat to the Great Pat McGovern

(Image via IDG)

The worlds of technology, business, science, and philanthropy lost a true revolutionary when Patrick J. McGovern passed away on March 19th of this year. McGovern was best known as the founder of International Data Group and its many related interests, including tech magazines, research, and events. He spent much of the past decade and a half promoting and championing research and discovery around the field of neuroscience. In 2000 Pat and his wife, Lore Harp McGovern, made a $350 million commitment to MIT, one of the largest philanthropic contributions in the history of higher education, which led to the formal establishment of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research. According to its website, the Institute is, “committed to meeting two great challenges of modern science: understanding how the brain works and discovering new ways to prevent or treat brain disorders.”   More

Business

Can Smart Cars Curb Road Rage?

Road rage 2

Road ragers beware. Get too angry behind the wheel and you'll have to answer to ... your own car? That's right, our vehicles may soon be able to detect our emotional states while driving, automatically limiting speeds or issuing warnings to calm down when we become too aggressive, according to Gizmodo. The in-car emotion detector, invented by a joint research team from the Swiss technical school École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and the French automaker PSA Peugeot Citroen, monitors stress levels by using an infrared camera to measure feelings of anger and disgust.   More