As Software Eats The World, Non-Tech Corporations Are Eating Startups



[tc_dropcap]Netscape founder and VC titan Marc Andreessen famously wrote back in 2011 that software is steadily eating the world, disrupting industries like music, retail and more. Now large corporations in these industries are starting to eat startups.[/tc_dropcap]

Over the past year or two, non-tech corporations have begun to actually open their wallets to arm themselves with talent and technology that can help them enter the digital and data-focused world we now live and work in. It’s no longer Google, Facebook and Yahoo that are competing to acquire the best and the brightest startups in Silicon Valley. There are plenty of corporations in retail, health, agriculture, financial services and other industries that are sending their corp-dev talent to scout out possible acquisitions in the Bay Area and beyond.

Let’s take a look at some of the examples. Earlier this year, Monsanto, a multinational chemical, and agricultural biotechnology corporation, bought…

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Twitter Wants You to See Who’s Tweeting Around You


Twitter is quietly exploring the use of geolocation with a new “Nearby” feature on its mobile app.

This week some users — who allow Twitter to access their location — have spotted the new feature that reveals nearby tweets regardless of whether you follow a user, the Wall Street Journal first reported.

“Nearby”  includes a map on the upper-half of the screen with a blue dot marking the user’s location, while the bottom half reveals a feed of recent local tweets, using icons marking their location on the map.

Twitter declined to comment on the recent testing but the new feature may help with local discovery in real-time, infringing on Foursquare’s domain.

The social media giant has enabled geolocation since 2010, but a user must manually switch on the setting to allow Twitter to access locations. The strategy could also prove to be a boon to advertisers, who could…

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Code Literacy Doesn’t Need To Come At The Expense Of Other Skills


This week President Barack Obama rekindled a couple of the Internet’s favorite debates: whether it’s appropriate to take selfies at funerals, and whether everyone should learn to code.

As part of Computer Science Education Week, Obama delivered a YouTube address titled “President Obama calls on every American to learn code.”

“Learning these skills isn’t just important for your future, it’s important for our country’s future,” he said. “If we want America to stay on the cutting edge, we need young Americans like you to master the tools and technology that will change the way we do just about everything.”

The last time we went through this was when New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg tweeted that he would learn to code as part of Codecademy’s “Year of Code” in 2012, which earned a certain amount of backlash.

“I would no more urge everyone to learn programming than I would…

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The Government Really Isn’t Sure What Snowden Took


Out this morning in the New York Times is a stark tale: The United States’ intelligence apparatus has little idea what Edward Snowden took, despite spending half a trying to find out.

As the full scope of what Snowden absconded with likely can’t be known, the government is forced to operate on its toes, unsure of what might be coming next. And that could be anything. From the phone metadata program, to PRISM, to work on ending everyday encryption, to the pervasive XKeyscore, to MUSCULAR, the Snowden revelations have been as broad as they have been deep.

The facility that Snowden worked in was behind in its update cycle to better protect government information, an effort that kicked off following the WikiLeaks episode.

That the government can’t assess what Snowden did or did not take has led to internal division inside the NSA: Is it better…

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iOS Rules The Corporate Mobile Market As Android And Windows Scrap For Second Place


According to a report by Intermedia, Apple continues to dominate the mobile device market among small and medium-sized businesses. During the first 10 months of 2013, Intermedia customers activated 190,000 Apple devices, 29,000 Samsung devices, and 13,800 Motorola devices.

All told, Apple controlled 76% of the market in the period. As Apple Insider points out, the above data is sourced from Intermedia’s hosted Exchange service which claims around 700,000 business users, meaning the relevant sample size large enough to make the data interesting.

Microsoft ended the period with vanishingly small market share, and a large percentage jump in its device volume: 93% in the first 10 months of the year. That’s somewhat good news for Microsoft, a company that is desperate to grow its share of the mobile device market.

It is not hard, however, to grow your unit volume percentage when you sold few devices in the…

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Why Does Google Need So Many Robots? To Jump From The Web To The Real World


Why does Google need robots? Because it already rules your pocket. The mobile market, except for the slow rise of wearables, is saturated. There are millions of handsets around the world, each one connected to the Internet and most are running either Android or iOS. Except for incremental updates to the form, there will be few innovations coming out of the mobile space in the next decade.

Then there’s Glass. These devices bring the web to the real world by making us the carriers. Google is already in front of us on our small screens but Glass makes us a captive audience. By depending on Google’s data for our daily interactions, mapping, and restaurant recommendations – not to mention the digitization of our every move – we become some of the best Google consumers in history. But that’s still not enough.

Google is limited by, for lack of a…

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The Hunger Games Conundrum

The Book Wars


            George Orwell and Aldous Huxley imagined two very different dystopias. In 1984 (1949), Orwell depicts the forces that held people captive as fundamentally external: coercion, espionage, laws, institutions, and threats, lies told by the powers-that-be (or, the state? government?). The vision of freedom that Orwell presents is primarily socio-political, with the greatest threat to humans being other humans, whether the Nazi, the slave-owner, or the autocrat etc… Oppression comes through pain, not pleasure; the essence of liberty is to be without external constraint. By contrast, Huxley’s Brave New World (1934), published just after the Wall Street crash had turned the excess of the twenties into the Great Depression of the thirties, portrays a future in which people are enslaved to forces within themselves: desire, inanity, hedonism, egotism, ignorance. Humans are free if they are able to choose, to will their own future, to decide for themselves what they will…

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