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Global Tech Techonomy Events

The Digital Divide: How Can the Tech Industry Become More Inclusive?

As companies like Twitter, Facebook, Google, and Apple release their hiring data figures, the Twitter-verse explodes with commentary on the lack of diversity in the industry. This is not a new problem, but there should be new solutions. How can tech and American entrepreneurship be more inclusive? Brian Forde of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Google's Chris Genteel, Laura Mather of Unitive, Marlin Page of Sisters Code, and Indiegogo's Danae Ringelmann discuss how to make the tech industry more of a melting pot in this Techonomy Detroit 2014 breakout session, moderated by Andrew Keen of TechCrunch.   More

Global Tech

Facebook Moves Ahead in Beijing, Line Blocked

Two of the world’s biggest social networking service (SNS) operators are in the headlines as the new week begins, starting with word that Facebook is moving ahead with its plans to open in China. Meantime, separate reports are saying Japanese-based mobile instant messaging service Line has been disrupted in China, perhaps for carrying sensitive content. These news bits may look different on the surface, but they’re really quite similar in broader terms. China is extremely wary of offshore-based SNS like Facebook, Line, and Twitter, because they are not subject to the country’s strict self-censorship laws.   More

Global Tech

Satellites Will Power Google’s Latest Moonshot Project

Mark Zuckerberg isn’t the only tech titan aiming to make the Net truly global. Google’s ambition to help bring Internet access to everyone in the world may soon be taking form. The search giant reportedly plans to invest over $1 billion in 180 satellites that “could amount to a sea change in the way people will get access to the Internet,” according to The Wall Street Journal. The satellite investment is part of Google’s latest moonshot project to deliver broadband service to under-developed areas—an effort that also includes Project Loon, which aims to beam Web access via high-altitude balloons, and the recent acquisition of Titan Aerospace, which will presumably enable drones to transmit broadband signals.   More

Techonomy Events

Techonomy 2010-13: Highlights

A who's who of Techonomy participants join Techonomy founder David Kirkpatrick in a series of highlights from our 2010-12 conferences that address the growing impact of technology on business and society and why, increasingly, every company is a technology company.   More

Global Tech

How Big Can Zuckerberg Make the Net?

How much difference can one company make? Mark Zuckerberg appears to be setting out to test that question with his immodest goal of connecting everyone on the planet to the Internet. While many companies talk about "doing well by doing good," Facebook's Internet.org initiative makes most other corporate projects for social betterment look banal. But such extreme ambition is not illogical. A unique combination of circumstances confers on Facebook a position—and perhaps a responsibility—unlike any other company. Facebook's site is the most popular on the global Internet. Over one billion people now use it on phones, making it the most popular mobile app as well. The Internet itself, in turn, is an unprecedented tool for social value and growth, transforming business and individual opportunity around the world.   More

Bio & Life Sciences

Tomorrow’s Sci-Fi Tech Excites Us … and Scares Us

For all the technological change Americans have witnessed in recent decades, from space travel to smartphones, we know much more is coming. And we’re only happy about some of it. A study by the Pew Research Center released last week finds that while Americans are generally optimistic about science and technology in the long term, we’re more pessimistic about it in the short term. The report culled data from a survey of 1,001 adults, with questions that attempted to get at the heart of attitudes toward closer-term advances—like bioengineering and robotics—and longer-term possibilities like space colonization and teleportation.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Government Jobs

Techonomic Top 5: Federal Inefficiency, Chromosome Breakthrough, Virtual Employers, and More

Every week we spotlight techonomic happenings on the Web and beyond, picking people, companies, and trends that exemplify tech’s ever-growing role in business and society. Here’s what’s got our attention.   More

Business

Jaron Lanier on Facebook and the Creepy Possibilities for Virtual Reality

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

Finance Global Tech

Alibaba Changes IPO Course, Heads For New York

All my previous predictions that e-commerce leader Alibaba would ultimately make its mega IPO in Hong Kong were wrong, with word that the company is now firmly fixed on New York for its highly anticipated share sale. In my defense, I should say that a huge surge in positive sentiment over the last 5 months towards China Internet stocks on Wall Street undoubtedly helped change Alibaba’s mind. The company had previously stated on numerous occasions that Hong Kong was the preferred venue for its blockbuster IPO, which reports are now saying could raise up to $15 billion, making it the world’s biggest Internet offering since Facebook raised $16 billion in 2012.   More

Media & Marketing

Critics Say Andreessen’s Analysis of the News Industry Is Broken

It’s doubtful that any publisher in the world was enlightened by venture capitalist Marc Andreessen’s recent blog post pronouncing that “the news business is a business like any business” and that “the news industry is going through a fundamental restructuring and transformation, for worse and for better.” But many likely wonder how he can be “more bullish about the future of the news industry over the next 20 years than almost anyone [he knows],” and why he envisions exponential growth in the next decade.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Energy & Green Tech Government

Techonomic Top 5: Reanimating the Woolly Mammoth, Facebook Drones, and more

The passenger pigeon became extinct in 1914, though not long before it flew in flocks that could number in the billions (yes, with a "b"). But a group of scientists has teamed up with tech visionary Stewart Brand in spearheading an effort to bring the species back to life. The so-called de-extinction project could reanimate long-lost species like the woolly mammoth and even mitigate environmental threats like melting permafrost, according to some.   More

Security & Privacy

A Privacy Bill Should Impose Consequences

Lamenting a fast-approaching privacy crisis in the U.S., New York Times op-ed columnist Joe Nocera this week reports what experts say should be included in a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, should Congress be so inclined to draft and pass one. Nocera suggests that not just consumers, but also companies in the business of collecting their data—including Google, Facebook, and Acxiom—stand to benefit from regulation; after all, he writes, credit card companies objected to the 1967 Truth in Lending Act that turned out to be to their advantage because it "showed consumers, for the first time, that they had some protection from fraud or shady practices." Nocera's conclusion: "Sometimes, government has to save business from itself."   More

Global Tech

How WhatsApp Can Succeed in China

I haven’t written about Facebook in a while, mostly because the company hasn’t made any concrete moves into China lately despite previous assertions that it would like to enter the market. But the company’s purchase of the popular WhatsApp mobile messaging service for up to $19 billion looks like a good opportunity to revisit the topic, and what this deal might mean for Facebook in China. Facebook’s own site has been blocked in China since 2009, making it inaccessible to the vast majority of more than 600 million Chinese Web surfers. But WhatsApp is widely available, even though it competes with the wildly popular rival WeChat service from local Internet giant Tencent.   More

Business

Kirkpatrick: Zuckerberg’s Plan for Global Connectivity “Impressive and Amazing”

It may be the tech acquisition everyone's talking about, but Facebook's $19 billion buyout of WhatsApp is just one step along the way of Mark Zuckerberg's larger-than-life quest: to connect every single person on the planet. Zuckerberg joined Techonomy's David Kirkpatrick onstage at Barcelona's Mobile World Congress Monday to talk WhatsApp, the future of communications, and, most salient in Zuckerberg's mind, his global connectivity initiative Internet.org. Launched in August 2013, Internet.org is a global partnership between Facebook, Samsung, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, and Qualcomm, which positions Internet access as a human right.   More

Business

Zuckerberg’s Vision for Building a Benevolent Internet

Once your Internet company has amassed over 1 billion subscribers around the world, what’s your next move? The most obvious answer is to figure out how to leverage your extraordinary user base to generate revenue. But Mark Zuckerberg’s ambitions for Facebook have always been more complex than simple profit motive. For starters, he’s not content connecting just 1 billion people. As he told Techonomy’s David Kirkpatrick this Monday at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, “Our vision isn’t to try to connect one-seventh of the world; it’s to try to connect everyone.” In order to do that, Facebook has to rally other billion-user companies to its cause. “We have to form these partnerships because no one company can change the way that the Internet works by itself,” said Zuckerberg.   More

Analytics & Data

Tableau Applies Gaming Power to Big Data

Tableau Software might be the biggest big data company you’ve never heard of. The lovechild of a Pixar founder and a Stanford University-Department of Defense project, the 10-year-old Seattle-based company applies the computational tools of the gaming and movie industries to presenting business analytics in beautiful, accessible graphic images. Now worth more than $6 billion in market capitalization, Tableau competes with the likes of Oracle and IBM, serves a hefty share of Fortune 500s, and nearly doubled sales in 2013, the year it went public.   More

Business

Could WhatsApp Possibly Be Worth $19 Billion?

The past year or so have seen a headlong rush around the world towards simple messaging applications. Facebook's purchase of WhatsApp shows it cannot ignore the rise not only of that service but also of others including WeChat, Line, Viber, and Kik. These services are beginning to play the role that Facebook has mostly played around the world--default mobile app for communication. Their simplicity is their strength. While Facebook is not as existentially threatened as this excellent Buzzfeed article suggests, it's a worthy read if you want to understand the macro context in which Mark Zuckerberg felt he had no choice but to act.   More

Business

Kirkpatrick: $19 Billion WhatsApp Deal Keeps Facebook on Cutting Edge

Facebook stunned the tech world Wednesday, announcing its biggest acquisition yet—a $19 billion deal to buy messaging application WhatsApp. Techonomy’s David Kirkpatrick appeared on Bloomberg West Wednesday and on Bloomberg Surveillance Thursday to talk about Mark Zuckerberg’s big move. “I think this shows that he’s willing to pay whatever it takes to keep on the cutting edge of what is going to be important down the road,” Kirkpatrick, who is also a Bloomberg contributing editor, told Surveillance’s Tom Keene on Thursday.   More

Global Tech Startup Culture

You Don’t Have to Live in Silicon Valley to Start a Company

Just about every city in the world is now teaming with young people (and some older ones) who are starting companies with ambitious and tech-savvy aims. This good essay by a former Facebook European executive underscores how pointless it is for everyone to compare their own region or city with Silicon Valley. Yes that hub will remain potent, but with tech transforming the entire planet there is ample reason for confidence that numerous other places can become vibrant hubs. The bigger challenge for Europe is the continuing prejudice in many countries against entrepreneurship and risk, and labor laws that frequently become punitive.   More