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

Internet of Things Startup Culture

Launching the Internet of Everything One Startup at a Time

The Availabot

With our May 16 Techonomy Lab: Man, Machines, and the Network in Menlo Park this week, we look at five startups delivering connectivity to consumers in various aspects of their lives. BERG Cloud of London pivoted from design consultancy to cloud service with its own connected products. In 2006 BERG built the Availabot, a puppet-like, vaguely humanoid USB-plug-in gadget that notifies users when their contacts are available to chat by standing up, and then falling down when contacts go offline. One day the notion of the Net existing only behind a screen will seem odd, predicts BERG Cloud’s Matt Webb. “To me the Internet won’t stay trapped behind the glass; we’ll see it flip. It’ll be everywhere.”   More

Cities

Can Israel Be the Tech Capital for the Next Five Billion?

In partnership with Campus Tel Aviv (powered by Google Entrepreneurs), Techonomy will facilitate a series of conversations on June 5th in Tel Aviv about Israel's emerging role as a tech superpower. The two-hour event will begin with a talk by Techonomy's David Kirkpatrick, followed by a panel discussion entitled "Can Israel Be the Tech Capital for the Next Five Billion?" The panel will include Israeli innovation experts Yosi Abramowitz of Energiya Global Capital, TheMarker's Guy Rolnik, GetTaxi's Shahar Waiser, and Yahal Zilka of Magma VC. Kirkpatrick will moderate the discussion.   More

Business Startup Culture

XO’s Carley Roney on Startups, NY, and The Knot

At a Dell Women's Entrepreneurship Network dinner, Techonomy's David Kirkpatrick spoke with XO Group co-founder Carley Roney about her company's trajectory since 1996. Roney says barriers to entry are much lower for startups today than when she and her husband David Liu were launching The Knot, XO's signature enterprise. "Now you can iterate more quickly and test things and segment," says Roney. "None of those things were possible at the time." With resources scarce, Roney says her team had to launch with a clear business plan.   More

E-Commerce Global Tech

Alibaba Mobile Drive Leads to Autonavi

Less than two weeks after buying a major stake in leading Chinese microblogging site Sina Weibo, e-commerce leader Alibaba is back on the acquisition track with word that it’s on the cusp of another deal to buy a similar strategic stake in mapping services firm AutoNavi. While this newest deal would be a bit smaller than the Weibo tie-up, it marks the latest transaction in a nascent M&A wave among China tech firms that looks set to gain momentum during the rest of the year.   More

E-Commerce Global Tech

Alibaba Tamps Down Valuation Expectations

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Having let the markets get pumped up with huge expectations for its upcoming mega IPO, e-commerce leader Alibaba now appears to be trying to temper some of those high hopes in the run-up to an offering that is likely to be the biggest ever for a Chinese Internet firm. The reason for the sudden change of tone? Apparently the company wants to avoid following in the footsteps of social networking giant Facebook, whose IPO was so overhyped by the time it finally occurred that it was almost bound to result in failure and major disappointment.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Energy & Green Tech

DIY Genetic Engineering Project Draws Crowd and Controversy

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A fundraising campaign for a DIY biology project to genetically engineer "sustainable natural lighting" was going gangbusters on Kickstarter. And that was before it was featured on page B1 of the New York Times today. But not all of the attention has been supportive.   More