Business

Cultures of Innovation

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Big and venerable companies around the world are increasingly confronting a vexing problem: They’re too big and venerable. The ironic truth: To get even bigger, they have to learn to act small. Executives increasingly believe that new ideas and innovations that can generate growth are most likely to emerge in organizations like small start-ups. So the mandate for large companies is to find ways to replicate the culture and practices of smaller companies inside their walls.   More

Business Techonomy Events

Detroit CIO Beth Niblock Interviews Jack Dorsey, Founder of Twitter and Square

At our Sept. 16 Techonomy Detroit conference, Beth Niblock, Detroit's first CIO, interviewed Jack Dorsey of Twitter and Square about how tech tools can help small merchants thrive in communities like Detroit.   More

Business Techonomy Events

Jack Dorsey Believes in Profit: For Merchants, Cities, and Square

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Appearing on the Techonomy Detroit stage for the third year, Twitter and Square founder Jack Dorsey shared with Detroit CIO Beth Niblock his vision for how technology, and in particular the evolution of Square, is helping the commerce ecosystem and could help cities like Detroit. Dorsey and Niblock’s conversation followed a talk by author Andrew Keen in which the techno-polemicist cautioned the audience that tech companies operate strictly in the interest of their own profits, not to help society. Dorsey acknowledged Square’s profit motive, but pointed out that Square’s revenues depend on the success of its customers, so the company is highly invested in helping merchants succeed.   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

Business

Be a Techonomy Detroit VIP!

Here’s your chance to be treated like a VIP at the upcoming Techonomy Detroit event that will take place at Wayne State University on September 16th. Enter your name, company, and email address below for a chance to win a VIP package that includes: (2) Complimentary Tickets (2) Invitations to the exclusive VIP Speaker Dinner […]   More

Business

The End of Industries

(Image via Shutterstock)

In my field of business journalism, writers have traditionally had "beats" that corresponded to specific industries. One might cover energy, autos, airlines, financial services, or media. Similarly, analysts on Wall Street have specialized along similar lines. Rankings and ratings of companies by industry continue to proliferate. But today such categorizations are increasingly an obstacle to understanding rather than useful demarcations for meaningful analysis. Many of today's most exciting companies do not fall neatly into a conventional category. Business in a technologized age has raced ahead to a new unbounded shape.   More

Business Global Tech

Tencent Beats Alibaba to Banking License

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Earlier reports of e-commerce leader Alibaba’s strong political ties appear to be overstated, following word that archrival Tencent has become the first of China’s major Internet firms to win a highly sought banking license. Both companies had been aggressively expanding into financial services over the past year, though each was reliant on partnerships with other companies that already had licenses to offer services in the highly regulated sector dominated by big state-run companies. But now Tencent will be able to offer many of those services on its own, following this ground-breaking award of a license from the nation’s banking regulator.   More

Business E-Commerce

Alibaba Picks NYSE, Plays with Yahoo, Football

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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

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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

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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