This Week In Tech - 10/9/2015
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.
If you don’t know the name Chamath Palihapitiya, now would be the time to do some research. As head of VC firm Social + Capital, Palihapitiya has been an outspoken advocate for increasing diversity and economic equality in tech. This week, Social + Capital teamed up with news outlet The Information to publish a diversity report for the top VC firms in Silicon Valley. The resulting dataset is available to the public and is as depressingly white-washed as you might expect. In a blog post entitled "Bros Funding Bros", Palihapitiya brutally summarized the report by stating "The bottom line is that the VC community is an increasingly predictable and lookalike bunch that just seems to follow each other around from one trivial idea to another." As depressing as the report is, we should be grateful that Palihapitiya is bringing these issues into the center of the conversation, exposing the hypocrisy of an industry that increasingly heaps praise onto its practitioners for creating social change and disrupting the old guard.
Senior Management at top VCs is 77.5% white. Pretty innovative, guys.
In a move that surprised exactly no one, our SOMA neighbors at Twitter officially named Jack Dorsey as the company’s new CEO. Dorsey, who had been acting as interim CEO since early July, also held the chief position in 2008. Over at VentureBeat, Chris O’Brien dug into the possibilities of what this executive lineup shift could mean for the social media platform. The best part of his assessment is that it elucidates just how ubiquitous and self-referential news coverage of Twitter has become - it’s a news article dedicated to reporting and analyzing a series of Tweets. How meta.
Rumor has it that Twitter's next product offering lies underneath Jack Dorsey's beard.
The telltale signs of Autumn are everywhere this week. The steady cadence of outdoor music festivals is (thankfully) slowing to a crawl, pumpkin spice evangelists and detractors are locked into their annual ideological war on social media, and the tech conference season is in full swing. This week’s star was the AWS re:invent conference in Las Vegas, NV. Amazon launched a ton of great new products aimed at taking a bite out of Google’s cloud-for-enterprise market share, in addition to new offerings that frame the world’s largest retailer as a new best friend to entrepreneurial developers. There was simply way too much news to review here so head over to TechCrunch for the most comprehensive coverage we’ve found.
It seems we can’t get through a weekly news cycle without hearing about a new security breach preying on vulnerable consumer data. Maybe I should make this a weekly segment... anyway, this week’s Security Incompetence Award goes to consumer credit reporting bureau Experian! Congrats guys, you really (didn’t) work hard for the honor. The hacked data, which primarily came from credit applications for cell phone carrier T-Mobile, was spotted for sale online by Irish security firm Trustev. T-Mobile is blaming the entire mess on Experian, who continues to maintain that no user data has been used "inappropriately." With quality crisis management like this, I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for Experian in the next few years. However, it’s worth noting that this problem goes beyond just a handful of incompetent players. Companies across the world are facing increasing pressure from consumers to protect their personal information. We can only hope this latest hack will encourage companies to get more serious about security.
THIS WEEK IN BOOTSTRAPPING
Everyone has advice for startups. Here’s some worth listening to.
Erik Rannala, co-founder of LA-based venture firm Mucker Capital, channeled Biggie’s sage advice of "Mo’ money, mo’ problems" in a TechCrunch op-ed that outlines the 4 biggest mistakes startups make after getting funded. Rannala’s next think piece probably won’t be focused on applying the 12 crack commandments to startup culture, but we can hope.
A perfect representation of the entrepreneurial spirit if ever there was one.
Apigee CEO Chet Kapoor also had a great op-ed on TechCrunch this week in which he argued that the future of coding will be predominantly focused on the development of robust APIs and the interactions between them rather than the creation of unique user experiences. Start reading up on your SOAP and REST documentation, everyone.
Last month marked 4 years since Eric Ries published "The Lean Startup". In that time, multitudes of tech entrepreneurs have adopted the lean model, catapulting Ries’ ideas and methods to canonical status; so much so that the ubiquity of this school of thought is more or less a given for young entrepreneurs working on founding new companies. But is lean methodology really applicable for everyone? Iliya Rybchin of Highnote Foundry examines the recent history of FinTech and HealthTech as case studies to identify the industries where lean methodology causes more harm than good.
THIS WEEK IN FUNDING
Baby, I got your money.
Shenzen-based O2O real estate company Fangdd closed their Series-C with $223 million with help from FountainVest Partners.
Cloud service vendor AppDirect just wrapped up their Series-E for a total of $140 million with JP Morgan Chase taking the lead investor role. This round puts the San Francisco company’s valuation at $1 billion. Welcome to the Unicorn Club!
Impossible Foods will continue their mission to synthesize meat and cheese products from plant materials after closing out a $108 million Series-D that included participation from Bill Gates, Khosla, UBS, Horizon, and Viking Global. Just don’t bring up that whole ’Soylent’ thing.
Drag-n-Drop design platform Canva - a favorite with founders and freelancers - raised $15 million for their Series-A with help from an eclectic group of investors that included Felicis, Blackbird, Matrix, Vayner, and celebrities Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson. Strange bedfellows, indeed.
Looking for more? Head over to CrunchBase for comprehensive coverage of this week’s funding news.
THIS WEEK IN BUZZ
What we’ve been reading, tweeting, slacking, and talking about.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg set off a social media firestorm last month when he implied that the company was working to expand its famous "Like" button. The announcement led many to speculate that Facebook would release a "Dislike" button - a feature that users had been requesting since the inception of the social media platform. Now, Facebook has released further details of what it is calling Reactions: a set of 6 emoji to represent the basic facets of human emotion (think Pixar’s summer hit Inside Out). Reactions will be rolling out for testing in European markets first, so Americans will have to wait for now. Is there a dislike button for that?
Facebook's Reactions emoji. Also functions as a very accurate representation of the author's emotions before, during, and after eating burritos.
Netflix raised the price of its most basic (and most popular) subscription plan from $8.99 to $9.99 monthly. At this point, the increase feels like a home run for the company and its subscribers; a $1 difference is enough to generate a lot of new revenue but isn’t enough to elicit consumer outrage. Investors are happy too - Netflix stock saw a huge bump in value following the announcement. Chill.
Consider this another shot fired in the adblocker wars: Apple approved BeenChoicefor the App Store. While Apple made ad blocking in mobile browsers a key selling point for iOS 9, BeenChoice is the first app that will extend its reach to also block ads in native apps. I have a feeling the AdTech industry will have plenty to say in the next few weeks, and I’m guessing it won’t be positive.
THIS WEEK IN PARISOMA
Most entrepreneurs join our community in their early stages. This week:
Tiago Forte of Forte Labs - a longtime friend of PARISOMA - took to Medium this week to provide us with one of the most comprehensive guides on creative workflows that I’ve ever read. It’s on the longer side, but the insights Tiago shares are extremely well articulated and applicable (which is hardly a surprise if you’ve ever had the privilege of taking one of his courses) . Head over to the Forte Labs publication on Medium to check out "How to Use Evernote for Your Creative Workflow."
PARISOMA community member Daniela Semeco of Polyglotte Inc. teamed up with our good friends at The New Americans Campaign to discuss how language, politics, technology, and education shaped her personal experience growing up in the U.S. as a Venezuelan national in "Growing Up ’Third’ Culture". Stay tuned to the PARISOMA blog for more Polyglotte news, including an exciting app release later this month.
Until next time,
Daniel Kagan, PARISOMA Events & Classes Manager