E-Commerce Finance Global Tech

Alibaba Turns to Travel as Profit Zooms

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Too much money isn’t always a good thing, as it often pressures companies to put that money to work even when good investment opportunities are limited. Baidu demonstrated that reality earlier this week with its purchase of an online app store that had little relationship with its core online search business, and now Alibaba is showing similar tendencies with its investment in an online travel services website. In Alibaba’s case, the new investment comes as the e-commerce leader posted a record second-quarter profit, and as it prepares for a blockbuster IPO that increasingly looks like it will take place in Hong Kong.   More

Manufacturing

3D Printing Affects Every Industry, Even Homebuilding

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At Techonomy, we’re fascinated by the potential of 3D printing technology (also known as additive manufacturing) to transform domestic manufacturing by creating efficiencies and opportunities for producers both large and small, from industrial fabricators to DIY makers. For answers to all our 3D printing questions, we spoke with Terry Wohlers, industry analyst, author, and president of Wohlers Associates, Inc. He told us about the future of 3D printing, industry obstacles, and whether or not we will someday see entire houses constructed by 3D-printed layers of concrete.   More

Media & Marketing Security & Privacy

Snowden’s Exploits: Ripped from Prime Time’s “Scandal?”

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I wonder if NSA leakmeister Edward Snowden watches the ABC prime-time drama “Scandal?” In particular, I'd be interested to know if he saw the episode entitled “Hunting Season” that originally aired last October, before Snowden went rogue. Why? Because that episode of the show—about the machinations of Olivia Pope, a gorgeous D.C. fixer extraordinaire—featured an NSA analyst who exposes a far-reaching domestic spying operation that permeates even the highest reaches of government.   More

Learning

Teachers Say No to “LOL” and “YOLO” in Student Writing

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Technology is not necessarily helping students become better writers, a new study has found. Although technology in the classroom has made students better collaborators, a Pew Research Center study has found that teachers are worried about students using informal texting language and improper citations, the Washington Post reports. While tools like tablets, Google Docs, and blogs have allowed students to more easily work together, nearly 70 percent of teachers think digital tools also make students more likely to “take shortcuts and put less effort into their writing.”   More

Learning Security & Privacy

Cyberattacks Target … Our Universities?

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Cyberattacks on large corporations and government organizations are nothing new. Over the past two decades, whole industries have been formed to stay one step ahead of the increasingly sophisticated and nefarious cadre of global hackers seeking information to gain advantage. Companies and government entities across the world view hacking as a top security threat and are continually on high alert for the next big cyberattack.   More

Finance Global Tech

Cloudary, Spreadtrum Pull Out Of NY

The exodus of Chinese tech firms from New York stock exchanges continues at a steady pace, with cellphone chip maker Spreadtrum announcing a sweetened buyout offer and online entertainment firm Shanda indefinitely delaying its IPO plans. These latest moves reflect not only the chilly U.S. investor climate towards Chinese firms, but also the fact that many of these firms have become attractive buyout targets due to their low valuations. As a result, we could see some interesting bidding wars emerge in the weeks ahead for a few of the companies that have already received buyout offers.   More

Arts & Culture E-Commerce

Kindle Worlds Is a Mixed Blessing for Both Authors and Readers

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In my last post, I discussed the business implications of Amazon’s new fan fiction initiative, Kindle Worlds. But what does it mean for authors and readers of fan fiction? Kindle Worlds lets writers create stories about television shows created by Alloy Entertainment—including "The Vampire Diaries," "Gossip Girl," and "Pretty Little Liars"—using the same characters, setting, plot points, and story universe, thus producing original derivative fiction. As an author, I looked over the terms offered and a few less-than-attractive elements jumped out at me.   More

Internet of Things

Techonomists Talk About Life Connected to Everything

Techonomy asked a few of the advanced thinkers who spoke at our Internet of Everything event in Menlo Park, "If you could connect anything in your life to the Internet, what would it be?" In this video, Cisco's Dave Evans, Alex Hawkinson of SmartThings, Ericsson's Geoff Hollingworth, and Kleiner Perkins partner Trae Vassallo talk a lot about families, health, networked cars, and connecting it all to the devices we carry everywhere. Our favorite: a networked home that dims the lights and plays Barry White when you're alone with the wife.   More

Startup Culture

A Talent Transfusion for Scrappy Startup Hubs

VfA Fellows brainstorm during a pre-deployment "boot camp" in Providence

Maybe Millennials aren't as selfish as people think. Some college grads are turning down high salaries in finance and consulting for entry level positions at startups in cities like Detroit, New Orleans, and Baltimore—where they can have an impact on the community while also learning important entrepreneurial skills. They are doing so with the help of Venture for America, a nonprofit that matches highly talented graduates with startup businesses in cities that need an economic boost, The New York Times reports. Founder Andrew Yang says that the program aims to improve talent allocation among bright college graduates. “Promising growth companies, companies that are five years old or less, are the consistent engine of job creation in this country,” he told Techonomy in an interview last fall.   More

Business E-Commerce

A Former Banker on Helping Small Businesses Go Mobile

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A year ago, Paul Choi wasn’t having fun anymore as an investment banker covering heavy equipment, metals, and mining companies. What did excite him, however, was mobile technology services. So he searched for a promising business in need of a boost. He found Worry Free Labs, an 8-year-old boutique digital design and development firm in New York that counted American Express, Disney, Expedia, and MailChimp among its clients, but wanted to accelerate its growth. Choi told founders Jason and Kristy Curry he would invest in the company if he could lead it. Since stepping in as CEO in September 2012, Choi has mastered the language of cross-platform app design and refocused the company on customers and the bleeding edge of technology and innovation.   More

Internet of Things

Trae Vassallo’s Tour of Functional Geek Fashion

In May, Kleiner Perkins partner Trae Vassallo wrote an article for Techonomy.com about how Google Glass makes her a more efficient mom. At Techonomy's recent Internet of Everything event in Menlo Park, we caught up with Vassallo and asked her to talk more about her passion for wearable technology. She showed off her Basis watch, which gives her insight into her physical health and can even predict when she's about to get sick, and her Google Glass, which she prefers to wear in sunglass mode to tone down the geek factor.   More

Global Tech Internet of Things

Need an Elevated View? Rent Your Own Orbiting Satellite

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While space travel remains exclusive to professional astronauts and the superwealthy, operating your own robot in space is close to becoming an affordable reality for average Earthlings. NanoSatisfi, a Kickstarter-funded startup, is building open-source nanosatellites with the mission to give anyone access to control one in orbit for $250 per week. Today, exactly 51 years after the first trans-Atlantic satellite television transmission, the company got a little closer to its goal with $300,000 in additional funding from investment firm Grishin Robotics.   More

Bio & Life Sciences

Diapers Collect Big Data

Wearable technology is becoming this season’s fashion must-have. Products like Jawbone and FitBit collect data on calorie expenditures and sleep habits, Under Armour’s Armour 39 tracks athletic training and even claims to measure willpower, and this year’s CeBIT show featured a shirt that could measure heart rate and other biometric signals. The future of wearable technology is “all about creating the superhuman,” said designer and professor of fashion technology Dr. Sabine Seymour in a recent interview with SmartPlanet. Now, what about the superbaby? A New York startup called Pixie Scientific has developed a diaper that can detect possible urinary tract infections, kidney dysfunctions, and dehydration, The New York Times reports.   More

Cities

Rising Costs: Is Uber’s Market-Demand Pricing Ethical?

As San Francisco's recent transit strike winds down, contract negotiations will carry on over the next month between Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and the employee unions. For on-demand car services such as Uber, who have gained a significant foothold in the Bay Area, strikes of this nature present a unique opportunity to capitalize on the increased demand for affordable transit. With approximately 400,000 people using the service on a daily basis, the economic impact of a transit strike within the city is significant. Yet Uber's business practices of engaging in a market-demand pricing strategy could, by their own admission, result in "surge pricing"—a premium price placed on rides during high-demand periods.   More

Business Security & Privacy

As NSA Worries Cloud Dropbox, Tonido Offers its “Personal Cloud”

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With the revelation that the National Security Agency’s PRISM program accesses user data at nine U.S. Internet companies, many presumed that Dropbox would be the tenth. The public cloud storage company denied that, but the mere idea should get one thinking about “personal clouds.” At least that’s what Madhan Kanagavel, founder of Austin-based CodeLathe and its Tonido storage service, is counting on. He says his “personal cloud” software and service product was inspired not by privacy concerns, but by the worry that he could lose content if his public cloud provider went out of business. The surveillance scandal, however, underscores his pitch: “Personal data is no longer safe, and hasn’t been for a long time.”   More

Business

What the Sharing Economy Means for Business

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With digital peer-to-peer platforms emerging in dozens of vertical markets, the sharing economy appears to be in its own Cambrian explosion of diversity. Participants share cars, bicycles, houses, clothing, tools, and a growing array of other consumer goods. “Collaborative consumption” is gaining traction among customers and finally attracting the attention of regulators and entrenched incumbents—not just taxi cabs and hotels, but increasingly automakers and manufacturers of other consumer goods that have built businesses on seemingly endless demand for ownership.   More

Learning

Pitch Review Software is a Home Run For Ball Players

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Software and tablets are allowing baseball players to better prepare for games than ever before, The New York Times reports. About 150 major league players and coaches are paying $700 per season for a subscription to Pitch Review software created by Bloomberg Sports. The program is especially popular among pitchers and catchers, as it aggregates a statistical database and video of every pitch thrown. Each user can have an individualized experience, analyzing their own pitching and hitting or that of opponents and teammates. In the past, players relied on desktop computers in stadiums for such video resources, but this program allows them to watch on the road or in the locker room.   More

Energy & Green Tech

UK Inaugurates World’s Largest Offshore Windfarm

While America celebrated the anniversary of its independence, our erstwhile colonizers celebrated the possibility of energy independence. July 4th marked the official opening of the London Array, the world's largest offshore windfarm. Situated in the outer Thames Estuary off the Kent and Essex coasts, the facility boasts 175 turbines capable of powering two thirds of the homes in Kent. In a statement, British Prime Minister David Cameron said that the project demonstrates that "Britain is a great country to come and invest in, and it's meant jobs for local people and it means clean, green energy for half a million homes in our country." These are not empty words. Britain's newest windfarm represents an impressive convergence of international innovation. It is owned by Denmark's Dong Energy, Germany's E.On, and Masdar of Abu Dhabi, and has the capacity to power 470,000 homes.   More

Energy & Green Tech

Wildfires in the American West: Can Technology Help Save Lives?

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In the wake of the June 3oth Granite Mountain tragedy, in which 19 of 20 members of an elite Hotshots team died fighting a huge wildfire outside Yarnell, Arizona—the greatest loss of firefighters in a single day since the 9-11 attacks—there is a shift in focus toward the “new normal.” Prevention and preparedness clearly are not enough; by all accounts, the Hotshots were experienced, well-prepared experts, an elite force combat-trained to handle even the toughest wilderness fires. This fire, said their local fire chief, was “just too dangerous.”   More

Business E-Commerce Global Tech

Tencent, eBay in Potent Partnership

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After its first attempt to develop the China e-commerce market failed miserably nearly a decade ago, US Internet giant eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) is making some smarter moves this time around by choosing better partners and also by building up its business more gradually. In the company’s latest China development, media are reporting eBay has formed a new joint venture with Chinese Internet giant Tencent (HKEx: 700). At the same time, separate reports are saying that eBay may fail in its bid to become the first foreign licensee to offer electronic payment services in China.   More