THIS WEEK IN TECH 10/19-10/23
Too busy working on your next deployment or searching for investors to catch up on news? PARISOMA has your back. Here's a roundup of this week's tech news - from the stories even your grandmother has read to the most insightful essays that crossed our paths.
THIS WEEK IN NEWS
Don’t let people think you’ve been living under a rock.
Using a blithe, snarky tone is great for blog posts (for example, reread this entire article), but not so great for companies looking to make political statements. Airbnb found this out the hard way this week, after a new series of their bus stop ads in San Francisco went viral on Facebook and Twitter. For context, San Franciscans will head to the polls on November 3rd to consider (among other things) Proposition F, a ballot initiative that would place restrictions on short-term rentals offered by companies like Airbnb. The ads in question are framed as suggestions to city government on how to use the money that is already taxed from Airbnb rentals. One ad reads “Dear Public Library System, We hope you use some of the $12 million in hotel taxes to keep the library open later. Love, Airbnb”. Personally, I found the ads hilarious but the rest of the internet did not agree. As a result, Airbnb quickly issued an apology and promised to remove the offending ads. For all the communications and marketing people reading, file this story under “Do Not Attempt”.
Does somebody need an order of French Cries with their Whaaamburger?
If you haven’t been tuned in to the Theranos-versus-WSJ media battle, you are seriously missing out. For the uninitiated, Theranos is a healthcare startup that provides blood testing technology that requires far less blood, delivers quicker results, and costs a fraction of the price of traditional blood testing methods. Last week, the Wall Street Journal published a scathing expose of the company, claiming that Theranos actually used 3rd party tech and equipment to provide all but one of the 280 blood tests offered by the company. Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes took the stage at WSJ Live for an interview in which she attempted to deny these allegations and discredit the Journal’s sources for the article. She did a damn good job defending herself and her company, even going out of her way to call out WSJ’s journalistic integrity. Afterward, WSJ released a statement thanking Holmes for the interview and reiterating their stance. So both parties are bullish and refuse to back down - a perfect recipe for a public feud.
The digital storage industry felt a tectonic shift this week as Western Digital announced the acquisition of SanDisk for $19 billion. The match is a no-brainer: Western Digital has watched its core business of solid state hard drives slip away as flash-based companies (like SanDisk) have come to represent the new vanguard of storage. SanDisk, however, has been slowing down and missing earnings expectations and was even reported to be looking for a buyer earlier this year. I predict that we’ll be seeing a new suite of flash storage products from Western Digital by the end of 2016, but only time will tell.
Fall is (allegedly) in the air, which means that Q3 and FQ1 earning statements have been dominating headlines for the past few weeks. Who came out on top? eBay, Alphabet, Amazon, and Microsoft all beat analyst expectations and saw a nice bump in stock performance as a result. But for every winner that is (at least) one loser: IBM missed revenue projections for the 14th consecutive quarter, Pandora reported a loss of $85.9 million, and Yahoo missed projections based on their own adjusted (read: non-GAAP) metrics. It can’t be a good sign for your company when you use a different rulebook to help you win and you lose anyway.
THIS WEEK IN BOOTSTRAPPING
Everyone has advice for startups. Here’s some worth listening to.
The point of IoT is that it can be found literally anywhere, though some industries have come further than others in materializing it. For example, Nest & Amazon have made huge strides in creating and growing the market for connected home goods and services. Brendan O'Brien - co-founder of cloud billing service Aria Systems - postulates that the next big industry suited for IoT intervention will be consumer automobiles. His argument makes logical sense, but it’s hard to accurately predict the kind of large-scale growth he’s talking about. But the best part of the op-ed isn’t his argument; O'Brien’s coinage of the phrase MoT (Monetization of Things) is an important idea that I’m sure will frame the IoT discussion for years to come.
Zpryme Research Director H. Christine Richards wrote up an excellent op-ed for TechCrunch in which she argues that sustainable energy - electricity in particular - may be the most promising worldwide industry for future disruption and innovation. The opportunity is buoyed by increasingly constrained resources, archaic & ineffective business models, and a need for industry players to rapidly scale. Sounds like a perfect storm of turmoil and upheaval in which tech entrepreneurs can find their niche.
THIS WEEK IN FUNDING
Baby, I got your money.
"I don't got a problem with you fundin' me, but I got a little problem with not fundin' me"
POS tech vendor Poynt closed their Series B on Thursday after raising $28 million. Oak HC/FT took the lead investor role with additional funding from Matrix, Nyca, The Stanford StartX Fund, and Webb Investment.
Health-centric design and construction firm DELOS had an incredibly successful first round of venture funding, ultimately raising $108 million with participation from Jeffrey Vinik and Sino-Ocean Land. Bill Gates’ Cascade Investment was the lead investor.
San Francisco-based Amino will carry on their mission to provide data analytics for consumer healthcare after finishing their Series B with $19.4 million. Accel, CRV, and Rock Health participated, with no lead investor.
THIS WEEK IN BUZZ
What we’ve been reading, tweeting, slacking, and talking about.
The new middle finger emoji. Telling your friends to fuck off has never been so cute.
You’re probably aware that the entire internet celebrated “Back to the Future Day” on 10/21/2015 - the date that Marty McFly and Doc Brown travel to in the second installment of the classic movie franchise. However, one could easily mistake the “celebration” for a thinly disguised promotional opportunity for nearly every large brand in the world. Don’t get into a tizzy about the bastardization of your favorite movie - the commercialization of culture demonstrated by these brands is a near-perfect reflection of the version of 2015 that Robert Zemeckis and co. predicted back in 1989. Great Scott!
Destination Time: Today
Instagram took a big step forward this week with the release of Boomerang, a stand-alone app for creating and sharing 1-second looping images. It’s worth noting that the choice to create a stand-alone app is a total win for the company: the animated loops make Instagram user feeds more engaging without complicating the UX features in the core app.
Are you one of the depraved neckbeards that think Gamergate was an inspired moment of cultural truth-telling that was unfairly misinterpreted by sensitive Femi-Nazis? First of all, you’re awful. Second, you’re wrong. Take a quick look at the Instagram account @perv_magnet. The account is a project by concert violinist Mia Matsumiya, who has uploaded images of over 10K messages from “stalkers, pervs, & crazies” she has personally received over the past ten years. The project is extremely NSFW, unquestionably disturbing, and unequivocally important - especially in light of the often shallow and inconclusive discussions currently taking place around gender diversity in tech. Check out the account, take a long shower, cry, and then get rid of that neckbeard, dude.
THIS WEEK IN PARISOMA
Most entrepreneurs join our community in their early stages. This week:
Our friends at Solu have been getting a lot of love from news sites in the past few weeks for their recently unveiled “social computer”. They officially launched last week with a Kickstarter campaign to fund the production of their unique vision of the future of computing. This week, founder and PR wizard Kristoffer Lawson went over to TechCrunch for a hands-on video review of the Solu Computer. The ultimate question: what’s it worth? Solu is planning on releasing their computer to the public at some point next year for around $500 USD. Right now, you can snag a pre-order by pledging $399 to the Kickstarter. If I was a rich man…
Our very own PARISOMA coworking members at Crew released two new updates this week, each dedicated to a brand new feature. Crew is an all-inclusive messaging suite for teams and managers - similar to Slack, but with a lot more functionality and targeted towards retail and food service teams. The first new feature, Location Groups, allows users to send a message to all team members at a particular work site. So if your team is on site while you have the day off, you won’t be bombarded with messages. The second new feature is the inclusion of shift covers and time off requests services, making the app even more powerful for its core user base. You can see a video walkthrough of the new features here. Good work, guys! Can’t wait to see what comes next.
Until next week,