Rami Alkarmi builds lean startup Ecosystems

Geek. Investor. Growth Strategist.

A proud geek, investor, and widely recognized advisor and expert in strategy, lean startup ecosystems, business models, growth & distribution through big data and viral marketing, and corporate venturing.

In 2013, he founded Arcoten Holdings as his advising/investing vehicle where he partners with corporates, accelerators, and incubators to build lean startup ecosystems, and helps companies through providing expertise in growth, hands-on mentorship, access to capital, and helps companies iterate product and grow fast. From time to time, he also likes to build companies with friends and partners inside Arcoten.

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marc andreessen

Facebook stock blasted to new highs this week after blow-out earnings with astounding user growth and vast revenue opportunities ahead.

Venture capitalist Marc Andreesen, who was an early Facebook investor and currently sits on the company board, is taking the opportunity to call out how many people have doubted the company over the years.

Tweet storms by @pmarca are always fun and have included commentary on how to kill a startup and more. This one is ongoing:

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A review of The Serpent’s Promise: the Bible Interpreted Through Modern Science by Steve Jones.


SpaceX shakes up its workforce by reducing headcount “less than 5%” but claims it will expand its employment by 20% by year’s end.


tinder whitney wolfe

In the wake of a string of tech companies releasing their diversity statistics, the subject has become a hot debate around the internet. Y Combinator President Sam Altman thinks that’s a dumb thing to debate. To Altman and his startup accelerator, diversity is an important issue that needs to be addressed industry-wide, he wrote in a Friday blog post.

"One of the most insidious things happening in the debate is people claiming versions of ‘other industries may have problems with sexism, but our industry doesn’t,’" he wrote. "Both men and women claim this, even though it keeps getting harder to do in the face of shocks like the Tinder texts.”

Altman went on to say diversity, especially gender diversity, is important because he believes women will found some of the most important startups in the future. And he pulled from Y Combinator’s stats to back this up.

According to the post, the accelerator accepts a higher percentage of applying technical women than men, though more men apply in total. Altman reports that of the 25% of startups who apply to Y Combinator with women founders, almost 20% are accepted. In a separate post, Altman wrote Y Combinator has a very low acceptance rate, so this isn’t too bad. He also reports that of all the YC companies worth more than $100 million, 10% are led by female CEOs.

Besides touting numbers and percentages, Altman also detailed some advice he gives to startups to help curb the sexism so prevalent in his industry. Though many startups wait until they have 50 employees or more before investing in human resources infrastructure, he thinks this is far too late.

"Our sense is that many will benefit by doing it earlier. Traditionally, startups have thought of HR as a drag on moving fast and openness, but a well-running team is one of the best assets a company can ever have,” Altman writes.

He says Y Combinator has plans involving this concept in process, but isn’t sharing details yet.

SEE ALSO: Pinterest’s diversity numbers are almost as bad as the rest of the tech sector

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Taking a look back at another week of news from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop covers Apple’s Fall launch events, mobile payments in the next iPhone, a potential iWatch patent, thoughts from the Q3 2014 earnings call, potential security holes in iOS 6, OSX 10.10 previews, and the new stickers advert from Tim Cook and his team.


Amazon Fire Phone AT&T

After more than a month of hype, Amazon’s new smartphone hit stores today.

Dubbed the Fire phone, it’s offered exclusively through AT&T, and can either be purchased through the carrier or Amazon itself for $200 with a two-year contract.  

The phone didn’t get great reviews overall.

Business Insider checked out half-a-dozen New York City AT&T stores to see how the phone’s were doing on their inaugural day. Here’s what we saw and heard:

  • Generally, there was a huge range of preparedness across the different stores. At one of the first ones we visited, every AT&T employee donned a Fire phone T-shirt, there were two phones on display for testing, and several huge ads. At another, smaller store, the phone hadn’t even arrived yet even though it was 3:30 p.m., and employees said that they had shirts, but hadn’t started wearing them yet. One sales person told us that the phone was mostly tailored to readers, because of the screen-size and good Kindle integration. We gave him the review unit Amazon gave us to test and that was his first look at the device and its dynamic perspective and Firefly features.
  • One salesman in Manhattan admitted that he had hardly touched the phone yet. “It just came in today,” he said. The main features he saw on first glance, however, were its enhanced 3D-like graphics and powerful camera. Few people had come in asking about it, nor had any sales been made. “We’re giving it a few days to test out,” he told us. When asked, he added that he made no commission for selling the Fire Phone specifically. 
  • Other reps also said that there was no commission, too, though one referenced a small employee rewards program for selling the Fire phone. It’s not a monetary bonus, but we did hear something like a free trip might be involved.
  • One store manager told us that he’d definitely seen an uptick in foot-traffic asking about the phone in the week before the launch. He liked selling it because it “catered a little bit to everyone,” highlighting the gaming experience for the younger crowd and the Mayday button, which offers 24-hour video tech support for the less technologically savvy. He also said that they’d sold two so far that day on his shift, between mid-day and 2 p.m. Personally, he chose to make the phone his new work device, and loved it. He admitted that it definitely made him shop more. 
  • In a different store, a rep said he had hardly tested out the phone, and had made zero sales. He said that he thought Mayday was the most important feature, and beyond that, nothing seemed to stick out. 
  • One customer, who was at the AT&T buying a new iPhone 5S, admitted that he’d never heard of the Amazon phone. He preferred iPhones over anything else because of their simplicity and power.  
  • An AT&T rep in the same store said he hadn’t sold any phones yet that day, but expected to sell at least three by the end of the day. He said that in the week prior, three people had also come in for pre-orders, which his store couldn’t fulfill. Two were in their fifties, and one was in his twenties. 
  • Several sales reps admitted that they get people in asking about the iPhone 6 all the time, even on the Fire phone’s launch day.

All in all, it didn’t seem like there was huge excitement for the new phone, from either sellers or customers. The general census: It’s still early, wait and see.  

SEE ALSO: REVIEW: Amazon’s New Fire Phone Has Some Fun Features, But You’re Going To Miss All The Best Apps

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Apple TV Tim CookEven though the third-generation Apple TV is over two years old, it keeps getting better.

Apple has added a bunch of new channels to Apple TV over the years like HBO GO, Hulu, Disney, and a lot more.

But that’s not all the Apple TV can do.

We put together 12 tips for your Apple TV that will open it up to more content, stream video more reliably, and let you control it all with your phone.

Ditch the Apple TV remote and use your iPhone or iPad instead.

The Apple TV remote is pretty lame. It’s small, the buttons are too close together, and it’s difficult to input text for searches in Netflix and other on-screen menus.

With the latest version of Apple’s Remote app for iPhone and iPad, you can control your Apple TV over your home’s WiFi network with a higher degree of control. Plus, search is a snap because you can type stuff on your device’s keyboard. The free app is available for iPhone and iPad.

Download it here.

Put that HBO and ESPN subscription to good use.

Already subscribing to either HBO or ESPN? Apple TV’s addition of HBO GO gives you access to every season of every HBO show, available on demand, along with HBO movies and specials. Watch ESPN allows you to stream live ESPN straight to your Apple TV.

You’ll need to make sure you have an HBO GO account or ESPN subscription. Just sign in with your cable provider’s credentials.

Jailbreak it and install extra apps

There’s currently no Jailbreak for the third-generation Apple TV. But if you have a first or second generation Apple TV, it’s worth it. In fact, second-generation Apple TVs are selling for more than double the price of a brand new third generation Apple TV because of this.

A jailbroken Apple TV will let you run other kinds of apps and streaming services that aren’t normally allowed by Apple.

If you have a compatible Apple TV model, it’s a relatively simple process to jailbreak it if you have a Mac. Lifehacker has a great tutorial to get you started. 

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

hugh howey

NPR reported Friday that authors are increasingly able to make a better living for themselves by ditching big-name publishers and selling their books themselves through Amazon.

Self-publishing used to be associated with failure. But that stigma is going away as many authors say they’re making more money through self-publishing than their counterparts doing it the traditionally more accepted way, according to NPR.

The NPR story came a few weeks after the novelist Michael Stephen Fuchs (brother of BI Senior Editor Erin Fuchs) wrote a post on his blog explaining his positive experience with self-publishing.

Fuchs published his first two books with Macmillan, but he didn’t make a living from writing until he began self-publishing his works through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, according to an appreciative open letter he wrote to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and shared with fans in a post on his blog. His earnings have increased so much he can support himself in London by writing alone.

Fuchs had this to say in critique of the big traditional publishing companies:

They generally pay us only 12.5% in digital royalties, compared to the 70% we get from Amazon. They insist on taking control of our copyright not for a reasonable term, but forever. They’ve done all they can to try to keep the prices of books artificially high, which hurts consumers and costs authors money. They have a record of zero innovation. And they’ve run the industry for decades in a way that has benefited the few while stifling new opportunities for the many.

A self-published (and bestselling) author named Hugh Howey has published a report backing up those claims, arguing that writers like him make more money from Amazon.com electronic books (e-books) than authors who have contracts with the five major publishing houses.

Howey published this chart as evidence, showing that as of this month self-published “indie” authors are earning 39% of all e-book royalties on the Kindle store, more than that of authors with the so-called Big Five publishing houses combined — Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster — which account for 37%.

author earnings

The share of royalties for self-publishing authors has risen steadily since February, when it was at 35% compared to 39% for the Big Five publishers.

Howey also estimates that 31% of total daily e-book sales are written by self-published authors, making that cohort the largest e-book publisher on Amazon when it comes to market share. 

Publishing expert Mike Shatzkin has criticized a previous analysis that Howey did, contending that it neglected to include cash publishers pay authors through book advances. The analysis also underestimated print sale earnings, Shatzkin says. 

Even if his data may not be perfect, it shows that self-publishing is becoming increasingly lucrative for many authors. Authors who publish the traditional way, Howey contends, are losing out on an increasing share of the profit.

For his part, Fuchs seems happy to be writing full-time without having to deal with his publisher.

" … I have, not at all incidentally, been freed from the cartel practices, unconscionable contract terms, and not to mention soul-crushing rejection and frustration, of the Big Six publishers in London and New York, and the literary agency system," he wrote on his blog. "Now I write books for my readers, who buy them."

SEE ALSO: Why I Was Wrong About Hating E-Books

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iphone unbox

We use our phones for nearly everything, which is why the slightest bug or glitch can feel unbearable.

If your iPhone feels like it’s running a bit slow, there’s usually a problem that can be easily solved. 

Two years of everyday use can take a toll on your iPhone, but these tips and tricks should be able to hold you over until your next upgrade. 

Get rid of old photos

Deleting unnecessary files is another great way to speed up your phone. If you’ve got hundreds of photos on your iPhone, try syncing them to iPhoto on your desktop or backing them up through iCloud and erasing them from your phone. 

Delete apps that take up a lot of space.

The more bloated your iPhone is, the slower it’s going to run. To see how much space a single app is occupying, head over to Settings>General>Usage. 

Erase old text message threads

Back in 2004, I remember consistently being frustrated with my Motorola Razr for its agonizingly slow performance. As it turns out, the problem was my own fault. I never deleted any text messages, so it literally weighed down the phone’s software. Today’s smartphones have come a long way since then, but deleting your old text message threads is still important to keep your phone as speedy as possible. 

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Today Bose Corporation has filed a legal complaint against Beats Electronics for allegedly infringing patents related to its noise-canceling headphones, which was first reported first by CNBC. Bose claims that Beats Electronics is infringing upon 50 years of research and development of noise cancellation technology that is protected by 36 U.S. patents and applications.


Mobile startup for die-hard sports fans raises $3.5 million in Series A funding, which adds to the $1 million investment it previously received.


beats office dre iovine

Bose Corporation has filed a lawsuit against Beats Electronics for copyright infringement, ZDNet reports.

Apple bought Beats for $2.6 billion in May. That deal is expected to close in September.

The suit was filed today in a U.S. District Court in Delaware and centers on five patents relating to audio signaling and frequency compensation. 

Apple is no stranger to patent litigation. The company has fought a prolonged legal battle with rival Samsung that seems to be winding down.

News of the lawsuit was first reported by CNBC:

Business Insider has reached out to both Apple and Beats and will update this post if we hear from either.

SEE ALSO: Former employees sue Apple for unpaid wages

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Low cost tablets have been a goal for a long time now but breaking the $200 mark hasn’t been easy for manufacturers, without sacrificing features and quality.  Then again, what if I told you there’s a 7-inch tablet on the market with 16GB of storage, running Android 4.4 KitKat, with a full 10 point touch, LED back-lit IPS display, a front-facing web cam and rear-facing 5MP HD camera, a microSD card slot, USB, Bluetooth 4, 802.11n WiFi and a quad-core processor on board—and that all retails for just $149.99.  Even a 16GB Google Nexus 7 retails for around $240 these days.  Sounds like a pretty good deal, right?  It is and the interesting thing to note is that it’s also running an X86 processor under the hood.


kid with iPhone

You’ve heard all about Millennials or Generation Y, the tech-savvy youngsters who were born in the 1980s and came of age around the turn of the millenium.

And retail strategists are already paying attention to Generation Z, the post-1990s generation that doesn’t remember a world before the tech boom.

But what comes after Z? Clearly someone didn’t think this through, but now an answer is emerging.

Futurist, demographer, and TEDx speaker Mark McCrindle is leading the campaign to call anyone born after 2010 a part of Generation Alpha.

Alpha kids will grow up with iPads in hand and never live without a smartphone and the ability to transfer a thought online in seconds. These massive technological changes, among others, make Generation Alpha the most transformative generation ever, according to McCrindle.

"In the past, the individual had no power, really," McCrindle says. “Now, the individual has great control of their lives through being able to leverage this world. Technology, in a sense, transformed the expectations of our interactions.”

Coining “Generation Alpha”

It all started when McCrindle and his team started wondering what comes after Z.

In 2005, McCrindle’s group ran a national survey in Australia asking respondents to think up potential names themselves. “Alpha” emerged and seemed like a natural fit, considering science disciplines, such as meteorology, often move to the Greek alphabet after exhausting the Roman alphabet or Arabic numerals.

While possibilities like Gen Tech, Digital Natives, and Net Gen have been posed, many have unofficially dubbed the group “Generation Alpha.” McCrindle, for one, hopes it sticks.

Everyone under the age of 5 falls into the Alpha category, as does anyone born in the next 15 years, what McCrindle considers the usual span of a generation. Unlike previous generations, which have used technology, Alphas will spend the bulk of their formative years completely immersed in it.

"Even new technologies have been transformed," McCrindle says. "It’s not just email — it’s instant messaging. It’s not just sharing a document online — it’s a Prezzi or a YouTube video."

A Demographic Shift

Shifts in global population will also affect Generation Alpha’s experience. For example, as early as 2028, India could surpass China as the most populous country in the world, according to United Nation’s recent data.

"Generational labeling has been a Western phenomenon," McCrindle says. Consider Baby Boomers, named for those born in the U.S. during the post-World War II "baby boom." And "teenager," a term coined in the mid-20th century.

Such labels are a much newer concept in developing countries, which may lag behind in both population and technology, creating less variety between generations. 

In Generation Alpha’s time, however, “India and China will become the center of gravity,” McCrindle notes. Countries who have experienced less development until recently will naturally experience a more pronounced generation gap with Alpha.

With better technology and more people to fuel its growth, children in these countries will trade some of their traditional, Eastern values for more tech-savvy and global ideas, McCrindle explains. 

The Biggest Leap Ever

This new climate of connectivity makes the leap from Gen Z to Alpha the largest in history, according to McCrindle — even bigger than than from Baby Boomers to Gen X, who experienced the invention of computers. 

For Baby Boomers, the newest computers were still mechanical and manual. They required effort and knowledge of programs to use. “But what we have with social media is a shift from the auditory and visual to the kinesthetic process,” McCrindle explains. “The platform may stay the same, but it’s gone from a computer with a keyboard to one with a touchscreen.”

Alphas will also interact for the first time with these technologies at much younger ages than any other generation. Now, many teenagers don’t wear watches because they use their cell phones for telling time, McCrindle notes. Imagine what Alphas will or won’t wear or do because of their attachment to tech.

"They don’t think about these technologies as tools," McCrindle says. "They integrate them singularly into their lives."

SEE ALSO: 15 Facts About Millennials And The Economy Everyone In Business Should Know

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