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Digital Life Science

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 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

Government Jobs Life Science

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

Digital

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

Digital

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

Energy & Green Tech Government Life Science

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

Digital

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

Digital

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

Digital

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

Digital

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

Digital

Four Reasons Facebook Became a Colossus

The first time I met Mark Zuckerberg I told him he seemed like a natural CEO. He acted offended. "I never wanted to run a company," he said bluntly. Then he added, perfunctorily, "A business is a good vehicle for getting stuff done." But that was September 2006. Facebook was just two-and-a-half years old. He impressed me so much I went back and wrote a column for Fortune, where I worked, entitled Why Facebook Matters. Now the company is ten. (It launched February 4, 2004.) Zuckerberg is 29, not 22. He is no longer embarrassed to be a businessman. By a lucky coincidence of timing, Facebook's quarterly results announced just last Wednesday were spectacular. As the company hits this historic landmark, its financial foundation is provably rock-solid.   More

Digital Global Tech

LinkedIn Takes New Step in Slow Road to China

Online professional networking leader LinkedIn took a big step towards entering the lucrative but tricky China market last week when it created a new China chief position and filled it with an industry veteran as it explores a formal service launch. The move was just the latest in the company’s slow and careful approach to China, and could boost its chances of success in a market that has proven difficult for other global giants like Google, Yahoo, and eBay.   More

Analytics & Data E-Commerce Partner Insights

How Businesses Get ROI from Social Sharing

Social-media-savvy businesses are turning their best customers into direct sales forces online. By leveraging the social networks of their biggest brand advocates, retailers can extend the reach of their product promotions. It’s word-of-mouth advertising at a massive scale. Some companies have been using this “social sharing” approach for several years to build brand awareness and drive sales. Until lately, though, such initiatives were hampered by unsophisticated methods for managing and engaging customers as well as tracking return on investment. Now, new tools and apps are available to develop a smart social sharing strategy that enhances customer experience while providing true ROI data based on sales conversions.   More

Digital

The Snapchat Saga Continues

Right now Snapchat, the popular messaging app that makes users’ photos and videos disappear, might be wishing it could make something else disappear—all the bad publicity that’s been swirling around it since the start of the new year. Techonomy’s David Kirkpatrick appeared on Bloomberg West Tuesday to talk with host Emily Chang about the Snapchat saga. “I’m not saying the Snapchat guys are jerks,” said Kirkpatrick, a contributing editor at Bloomberg. “I just think that they certainly are awfully confident considering the scale of their achievement.” He added that while Snapchat is reported to have 30 to 40 million active users, messaging app Whatsapp has 10 times as many.   More

Business

Kirkpatrick: Privacy Lawsuit Won’t Slow Facebook’s Momentum

Two California Facebook users have sued the social network for violating their right to privacy—and profiting from it. Plaintiffs argue Facebook is secretly intercepting users’ private messages and scanning them for links to third-party websites, then selling that data to advertisers and marketers seeking to better target consumers. Facebook denied the allegations, saying they are “without merit.” David Kirkpatrick, Techonomy CEO and Bloomberg contributing editor, appeared on Bloomberg West last Thursday to talk about the privacy lawsuit and what ramifications it could have for the popular social media platform.   More