Business Manufacturing

Could Crowdsourcing Make Better Cars?

Co-created cars could have better cupholder designs, among other features.

Whoever designed my car doesn't drink coffee during their morning commute. Otherwise they'd never have put the cupholder in front of the gear stick. The manufacturer of my next car might actually be interested in my input. According to a report out this week from consulting giant PwC, co-creation is a growing trend in the automotive industry.   More

Global Tech Government

Using Tech to Anticipate Tornado Strikes

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Approximately 16 minutes before the massive twister struck Oklahoma on Monday, meteorologists used satellites and radars to issue a tornado warning in Oklahoma City. Sixteen minutes may not be much time—but it’s certainly a major advance from 30 years ago, when the average lead time was five minutes. In the 1950s, it was even illegal to predict tornadoes because of the uncertainty and panic that could result from a false forecast. Those 11 additional minutes likely saved more lives as people burrowed into safety shelters and basements. But imagine if they had as much as 30 minutes or more.   More

Finance

Look Who’s Crowdfunding Now

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The world’s most famous real-estate mogul, Donald Trump, is jumping into the crowdfunding fray. Trump has partnered with Bill Zanker, founder of The Learning Annex, to create FundAnything, a crowdfunding platform that allows people to create campaigns for any amount of money in various categories—creative arts, causes, personal pursuits, business ideas. The site charges a nine percent commission, returning four percent to the creator if the fundraising goal is achieved. FundAnything also enables entrepreneurs to offer non-financial rewards in exchange for donations.   More

E-Commerce Global Tech

Qihoo, Alibaba Tie-Up Set For Turbulence

Alibaba's eTao ties up with Qihoo

A sudden rush to form new partnerships on China’s Internet is creating some interesting new tie-ups, including the latest one that is seeing e-commerce leader Alibaba join with security software firm Qihoo 360 in the e-commerce search space. This new pair-up actually seems relatively minor, with Qihoo using Alibaba’s specialized eTao search engine to power e-commerce searches on Qihoo’s own so.com general search site. This kind of tie-up isn’t all that uncommon in search, where portals and other companies that want to include a search function on their home page often license a third party’s engine like Google’s or Baidu’s for the job.   More

Jobs Learning Opinion

Class of 2013: Narcissism or Altruism? In a World of Abundance, Time to Decide

Graduation image via Shutterstock

I'm jealous of anyone graduating college today. You are stepping as a newly-burnished adult into an era of unprecedented promise, innovation, and opportunity. The world you will witness and contribute to can be fairer, wealthier, and more peaceful than any that people have ever known. What makes all these glories possible is the exponential pace of change driven by technology. Your generation takes that for granted, and revels in it. But it makes those older than you deeply uncomfortable, and many simply refuse to see it. That puts a lot of responsibility on you.   More

Energy & Green Tech Global Tech

Dutch Eco-Engineering: Using Nature to Protect Against Climate Change

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Necessity truly is the mother of invention. With almost three quarters of the Netherlands at or below sea level, Dutch engineers are finding new ways to protect themselves from the increasing threat of floods due to climate change by using nature as a defense against rising tides. For example, the Sand Engine is a vast reservoir of sand continually cultivated to protect eroding beaches,   More

E-Commerce Global Tech

Tencent, Walmart Heat up China E-Commerce

New moves from Internet giant Tencent and global retailer Walmart are turning up the competition in China’s e-commerce wars, which are quickly becoming a contest to see who can outspend whom. Both of these latest initiatives look quite pricey, especially Tencent’s move that will see it roll out an ultra-fast product delivery program. WalMart, meantime, is pouring big money into a campaign to build a new in-house clothing brand for its recently acquired Yihaodian online store. The current trends are a bit worrisome, as they indicate no near-term easing in China’s e-commerce price wars that have raged for about two years now.   More

Government Jobs Opinion

The Knives of Class Warfare Turn Towards Tech’s Plutocrats

I have lots of quibbles with Joel Kotkin's recent essay published at the Daily Beast and already echoing elsewhere. He gets numerous facts wrong, and some of his assumptions are silly. But anyone in tech better pay close attention to his thorough summing-up of the numerous ways that tech's billionaires and their often-wealthy allies increasingly aim to influence social policy at a time when more and more Americans (and others in the developed-world middle class around the world) find middle-class life out of reach, and poverty grows among the less educated.   More

Business

Kirkpatrick, Levy, Markoff: Chroniclers of Technology in Conversation

Techonomy's David Kirkpatrick joined longtime tech journalists Steven Levy and John Markoff onstage at the Computer History museum in Mountain View, CA, last week for a wide-ranging discussion about their decades covering the industry. Levy is a senior writer at Wired and the author of seven books on everything from computer hackers and cryptography to the inside stories of the iPod's invention and Google's birth. Markoff is a senior writer for The New York Times who began writing about technology in 1976. The Computer History Museum's John Hollar moderated the conversation, which delved into the seminal breakthroughs and personalities of tech history.   More

Startup Culture

At Jeff Skoll’s Annual Woodstock for Social Entrepreneurs

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Jeff Skoll made his fortune as the first full-time employee and president of eBay. Now, as a philanthropist, he uses his eponymous foundation to back people tackling problems like education inequality and disease. A few weeks ago I attended the Skoll Foundation’s tenth annual World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship. The three-day event takes place at the Saïd Business School at Oxford University, where in 2003 Skoll endowed a center devoted to social entrepreneurship.   More

Bio & Life Sciences

Can Crowdsourcing Succeed in Life Sciences?

Synapse image via Shutterstock

It’s no secret that crowdsourcing has been a successful approach in many industries. Even complex and technical topics can be addressed this way; one great example is Foldit, an online game that lets regular people design efficient protein structures. Those designs are submitted to a top protein laboratory, which tests to see whether predicted structures match the real-life structures of specific proteins. In the biomedical community, though, Foldit is an outlier. The concept of pulling in as many minds and resources as possible to solve a problem, though proven to work repeatedly in other industries, has not gained real traction in life sciences.   More

Internet of Things

How to Take the Internet of Everything Mainsteam

(From left) Jon Brunner, Frank Chen, Kerrie Holley, Dave Icke, Trae Vassallo (photo: Asa Mathat)

The big challenge ahead for the Internet of Everything (IoE) is to bring it to the mainstream—and a couple of keys to that transition are the proliferation of smart phones and wearable devices, said a panel of technologists and investors at the Techonomy Lab: Man, Machines, and the Network conference on Thursday in Menlo Park, CA. “For generations, Hollywood taught us what mainstream was, and now Silicon Valley is showing what mainstrem will be,” said Frank Chen of Andreessen Horowitz. The IoE will do that by bringing computing and programming into everyday intimate life.   More

Internet of Things

How Big Companies Are Feeling Their Way into the Internet of Everything

(from left) David Kirkpatrick, Rob Chandhok, Dave Evans, Paul Rogers, Vijay Sankaran (photo: Asa Mathat)

The big players in technology seem to agree that the Internet of Everything (IoE) is a huge transition that will have an impact on many aspects of life, though they still see the shift from their own points of view—not yet with a single coherent vision. That’s the takeaway from the opening panel at Thursday's Techonomy Lab conference on IoE. On stage were Rob Chandhok of Qualcomm, Dave Evans of Cisco, Paul Rogers of General Electric, and Vijay Sankaran of Ford.   More

Internet of Things

Warrior: We’re Only 1 Percent Done Connecting the World

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With more than 1.4 million Twitter followers, Cisco Systems' chief technology and strategy officer Padmasree Warrior might seem as connected as you can get. But she says the world is only 1 percent of the way toward total connectivity.   More

Society

Is the Offline You a Better Person? One Man Finds Out

There's a Liz Phair lyric that sums up tech journalist Paul Miller's year without the internet: "...if you do it and you're still unhappy, then you know that the problem is you." The story of the 26-year-old Verge editor’s experiment is a subject of fascination in the press this week. Suffering from burnout and quarter-life existential angst, Miller cut himself off from online access. He downgraded to a dumb phone, delivered assignments via thumbdrive, and contacted sources, friends, and family by phone instead of email or Skype. And he kept that up for a mostly painful 365 days.   More

Internet of Things

OK Glass, Mute the Children (#ParentingThroughGlass)

"Tech geek mom" Trae Vassallo sports her Glass.

I had a surprising revelation after my first weekend with Google’s Internet-connected specs: Glass is perfect for parents. After all, who needs hands-free productivity more than a parent? Who has more need for a smart assistant? Who gets more joy from photos of surprising kid moments? Parents! And you could be next: If you have given up your self-respect for the pragmatism of a minivan (I confess I have), you are a prime candidate for Glass.   More

Finance Government Startup Culture

Why the JOBS Act Hasn’t Launched Equity Crowdfunding

When the JOBS Act was signed into law, its knotty crowdfunding provisions quickly became a source of consternation for the SEC. More than one year later, the law continues to languish, as the SEC moves slowly to implement its two most important provisions. One would enable general advertising for private investment offerings, and another would open the floodgates by allowing unaccredited investors to participate in online equity crowdfunding.   More

Cities Manufacturing

Chinese Companies Set Up Shop in the Motor City

A new wave of investment is happening in long-suffering Detroit. At first blush, that sounds eminently promising—the region, and the U.S. auto industry, is still rebounding from the recession, with mixed results. But the who and why paint a more complex picture. As part of their steady push into the U.S. auto industry, “Chinese-owned companies are investing in American businesses and new vehicle technology, selling everything from seat belts to shock absorbers in retail stores, and hiring experienced engineers and designers in an effort to soak up the talent and expertise of domestic automakers and their suppliers,” Bill Vlasic writes in The New York Times.   More

Finance Internet of Things

A16Z’s Chris Dixon on the Internet of Locks, Cars, New York, and Everything Else

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Chris Dixon is a New York guy with a degree in philosophy from Columbia University. He’s also, as of last fall, a partner at hot Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (which shortens its name to A16Z—16 is the number of letters between the A and the Z). All in all, that gives him a pretty interesting point of view on the big technology shift that’s being labeled the Internet of Everything (IoE). Dixon already has quite a track record as an investor and entrepreneur. He co-founded Hunch, which eBay bought for $80 million in 2011, and then started Founder Collective, a seed-stage venture fund. Alone or with a fund, he’s been an early-stage investor in Kickstarter, Pinterest, Foursquare, Dropbox, and Warby Parker.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Opinion

Why VC’s Shortchange Healthcare IT—And How to Change It

Some are celebrating the increasing levels of venture capital flowing to health information technology startups. But I’m in the business of cloud-based electronic health record services, and I’m not celebrating. In fact, I consider current levels of VC funding for my industry to be tragic. In a 2013 first quarter report, Mercom Capital Group reported that “the sector continues to explode in another record quarter with almost half a billion dollars ($493 million) raised.” But VC levels pale in comparison to what the federal government has ponied up: $30 billion under the HITECH Act to encourage adoption of health IT.   More