The recent update to Apple’s tablet product line leaves open a number of questions, but the biggest one is ‘which iPad should I buy, the iPad Air or the new iPad mini?’ Having reviewed both the iPad Air and the iPad mini with Retina Display here on Forbes, it’s not an easy decision to make.
The New York tech scene is booming.
RRE Ventures Principal Steve Schlafman has put together a terrific presentation that sums up the big trends and sectors coming out of New York, or “Silicon Alley,” as the locals call it.
He graciously gave Business Insider permission to publish it.
This is an extremely thorough summary of the tech and digital media community. So you can click on the links below to quickly navigate to topics of interest:
Can a massive cache of stolen government secrets help to launch a successful new company - perhaps the world’s most eagerly awaited social enterprise?
Dell is using an interesting strategy to trim expenses. It’s asking its employees to quit, a Dell spokesperson confirmed.
Dell is calling this a “voluntary separation program,” the spokesperson told us, so it can’t be called a layoff, even though it has a lot of layoff-like elements: employees have to be deemed “eligible,” they have to leave their jobs, and they get a chunk of money and other services to help them until they find a new job.
But because a person has to quit, we’ve dubbed the strategy an “anti-layoff.”
Companies have done similar things for eons for long-term employees soon eligible for retirement benefits, but in this case Dell confirmed that it was not an early retirement program and was open to global employees.
Dell must be feeling pressure to trim expenses and free up cash. In October, founder Michael Dell completed a $24.9 billion buyout of Dell along with investment firm Silver Lake Partners and took the company private. As part of the go-private deal, Dell borrowed $5.5 billion, plus it took on another $2 billion loan from Microsoft.
We have to say, an anti-layoff seems more humane than a typical workforce reduction, where employees have no say in the matter.
We would love to hear from people inside Dell about how well it’s working. (Drop us a line at email@example.com).
Here’s the full statement that Dell sent us.
Dell has announced an optional, global and voluntary separation program for eligible team members who choose to leave the company in exchange for the offer of a separation package to support their transition. Would note that we’ve taken steps to optimize our business, streamline operations and improve efficiency over the past few years. And we been consistent in saying that a critical element of our strategy has been, and always will be, about improving our cost structure and freeing up capital to make the investments in growth areas that matter to our customers.
Like any prudent company, we’ll continue to evaluate and implement opportunities to enhance our operational effectiveness on an ongoing basis.
We won’t have additional comment about the program, the number of Dell team members taking advantage of it or the cost involved.
Protesters in San Francisco who hate private buses for tech employees are right about at least one thing: Google and other companies that pick up and drop off their employees on public streets should pay for the privilege of using public bus stops.
But the protesters are drastically wrong when they demand the companies pay $500 million a year. Instead, the payments should be in the ballpark of $1 million t0 $4 million annually.
Here’s how the protesters’ math works, according to a flyer from today’s protest shared by Instagram user Tigerbeat:
Tech industry private shuttles use over 200 SF MUNI stops approximately 7,100 times each day in total (M-F) without permission or contributing funds to support public infrastructure… If the tech industry was forced to pay for every illegal use of these stops for the past two years, they would owe an estimated $1 billion.
That $1 billion-over-two-years figure is based on a $271 fine for illegal use of a bus stop. But it would be absurd to charge so much for a bus pickup that takes a couple of minutes or less. That price would imply that about 75 feet of curbside space in San Francisco is worth thousands of dollars an hour. The city is expensive, but it’s not that expensive. It’s no surprise the fine provides bad guidance: Fines are supposed to be set far above the price of authorized use, because most unauthorized users don’t get fined.
Instead of the fine, we should look to prices that municipalities charge for authorized use of curbside space. As it happens, New York City has just implemented a permit system for intercity buses that pick up or drop off on the street. Bus operators must pay for permits that cost $30 per year for every scheduled weekly pickup. That’s a price of 58 cents per pickup. Applying the same charge in San Francisco would result in total payments just over $1 million.
Or we can look at the price of on-street metered parking in San Francisco, which is up to $6 per hour during peak periods. If a bus stop is the length of five parking spaces and a Google bus uses such space for two minutes for a pick up or drop off, the implied price per use would be $1. That price would raise about $2 million in annual revenues — not nothing, but also not much.
Maybe street parking in San Francisco is underpriced. Maybe the meters should go up to $12 per hour and the bus stop use fee should accordingly be $2, raising $4 million. In any case, we’re not going to get anywhere close to $500 million.
Buses impose other costs on the government than the value of the curbside space they use to pick up and drop off. San Francisco and the state of California have to build, maintain and police the roads. Bus operators already pay gas taxes and vehicle registration fees that go toward these costs. If these charges are insufficient, they should be raised — not just for the private buses but also for individual drivers.
Of course, the protesters don’t really hate the buses because they’re undercharged for the use of curbside space. They hate the fact that housing is a market good whose price is determined by supply and demand. The best way to address that problem would be to allow the construction of lots more housing units in San Francisco, so that housing supply can rise to meet demand. But while we’re doing that, applying a modest charge to the buses for their modest use of curbside space is a good idea too.
Brands are choosing Instagram video over Vine video, according to a new report from BI Intelligence.
This is a bit of a no-brainer. Instagram has a bigger user base than Vine which is relatively new. So, naturally brands are going to pick Instagram.
We’re highlighting this chart because when Vine burst onto the scene, it looked like it was going to be a major social network.
Since Instagram added video our usage of Vine has declined significantly (almost down to nothing). We’re not sure if we’re outliers or what, but this is one of those things we’re keeping an eye on.
Venture capitalists will raise big money in 2014, the Blackberry marketplace will decompose faster than imagined and it’s better to think of Bitcoin as a commodity than a currency, according to Silicon Valley VC firms Foundation Capital and Bain Capital Ventures.
Venture capital firms are going to raise more money in 2014 than they have since 2007; Bitcoin is a commodity, not a currency and the Blackberry marketplace will decompose faster than anyone says: here are 5 predictions for 2014 from Silicon Valley VC firms Foundation Capital and Bain Capital Ventures.
eBay CEO John Donahoe slammed Amazon’s headline-grabbing plan to start delivering packages via drones, calling it a “long-term fantasy.”
Donahoe made the remarks to Bloomberg reporter Emily Chang, after she asked him whether eBay has any plans for delivery drones.
"We’re not really focusing on long-term fantasies," Donahoe said. "We’re focusing on things that will change consumers’ experience today."
"So you think it’s a long-term fantasy?" Chang asked.
"We’ll see," Donahoe said with a shrug.
eBay posted revenues of $14.1 billion last year, while Amazon generated $61.1 billion.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos made the announcement that the company had started experimenting with autonomous delivery drones in a “60 Minutes” interview. He said he expects the drones to be fully operational within four or five years.
I’ve spent the past few days in Los Angeles visiting dozens of startups and investors in southern California. I met with fashion startups, social startups, video startups, and incubators.
Los Angeles — specifically Venice Beach — is also where Snapchat is located.
I asked a dozen startup people there the same two questions:
Before we get into their responses, there’s one thing we should note:
Not everyone believes Snapchat actually rejected a formal $3 billion offer from Facebook. One person with vague knowledge of the situation believed there was some level of rejection between Snapchat and Facebook, but it wasn’t clear how serious talks were. It probably depends on how you define the word “offer.” A few months ago, Evan Spiegel claimed he had never received a formal acquisition offer, despite having met Mark Zuckerberg to discuss his business nine months prior.
But let’s assume Snapchat did turn down a formal $3 billion acquisition from Facebook. Here’s what people in LA think of Spiegel and his decision to reject billions of dollars.
For being the startup man of the hour, Evan Spiegel is elusive in LA. Even some of the most prominent people in the tech scene there have never met him. That’s because Spiegel doesn’t attend many of the tech parties, chat it up with investors, or attend local events. Some feel it’s because he looks down on the startup scene and isn’t a big supporter of the community. Others say he’s just a busy guy who’s trying to focus on his startup.
Whisper CEO Michael Heyward, 26, attended the same high school as Spiegel. His sister is about the same age as the Snapchat CEO. Heyward says he and Spiegel are on friendly terms: they say hi when they see each other but otherwise they don’t have much communication. They’re both focused on building their businesses.
Whatever his reputation, most people we spoke with felt Spiegel was crazy for turning down billions of dollars.
"Does anyone not think it’s crazy?" One person asked. Another startup executive attributed Spiegel’s "crazy" decision to the fact that he’s young. This person wondered if Spiegel, who is only 23, had any concept of money. Spiegel’s father is a very successful lawyer who gave him a hefty allowance and his mother caved to Spiegel’s demands for a BMW in high school.
We also found three people who supported Spiegel’s decision to reject Facebook.
Mike Jones runs a startup incubator in Los Angeles, Science Inc. Science Inc has produced startups like DogVacay and Dollar Shave Club.
Jones formerly ran MySpace and he has met Spiegel. In fact, he was invited to Snapchat’s offices to present the MySpace story to Snapchat’s team. So Spiegel definitely understands that startup success can be fleeting.
Jones didn’t call Spiegel’s decision crazy. Instead, he applauded Spiegel for trying to become the next Mark Zuckerberg.
Tinder CEO Sean Rad said he occasionally communicates with Spiegel and thinks Snapchat was smart to reject Facebook. Rad says if he were Spiegel, he wouldn’t have sold Snapchat either.
"Facebook is about permanence," Rad rationalized. "Snapchat is about impermanence." Since the companies are fundamentally different, and because Snapchat has so much momentum, Rad doesn’t believe selling to Facebook makes much sense. Selling to Google, which hasn’t had luck in the social media department, makes even less sense.
Mark Suster, a Los Angeles-based VC who is not a Snapchat investor, also believes Spiegel was wise not to sell. Here’s Suster’s logic:
No matter how you slice it, Evan Spiegel and co-founder Bobby Murphy are rich. Even if Snapchat fails, the co-founders will be worth at least $40 million, Suster estimates. That’s generational wealth and more than enough to buy houses, toys, and support their families.
Here’s where that $40 million figure comes from:
Suster’s logic: If you’re young and you’re already set for life financially, what risk are you really taking by turning down billions?
Sure, $1 billion is a lot more money than $40 million. But in the words of BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti, "How many yachts can you water ski behind?" If Snapchat sold now, Spiegel might always wonder what could have been.
So the decision wasn’t to accept or reject billions of dollars. It was to either settle for being rich, or try and create something legendary. Spiegel chose the latter.
Tumblr users generally seem to have come to terms with the site’s native advertising, with sponsored posts from big brands like Ford and Warner Bros. getting hundreds of thousands of likes and shares this year.
Here are the JPEGs and GIFs from the top 5, with their current note count:
5. Home Depot: 85,967 notes
4. Ford: 117,036 notes
3. Warner Bros.: 152,277 notes
2. Converse: 182,788 notes
1. Universal Studios: 315,675 notes
Bonus - Hulu’s GIF from the classic film “The Red Balloon” ranks 17 on the list of posts with the best launch days, but it is now the most popular with 321,924 notes:
The full list is over at Tumblr.
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SpaceX founder Elon Musk talks about the logistics of his grasshopper rocket, and what is need to revolutionize space travel.
Produced by Kamelia Angelova, Alana Kakoyiannis and Justin Gmoser
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Slim’s América Móvi and Azcarraga’s Televisa are expected to be declared market dominant in telecommunication, opening the way to unprecedented monopoly-busting regulatory measures.
One of the biggest mysteries in technology is what has happened to Scott Forstall.
Forstall was the co-inventor of the iPhone’s ground breaking operating system. He led iOS from its creation until the end of 2012 when he was abruptly forced out of the company.
He went from being in charge of the most important product at the world’s most valuable company to disappearing over night.
Since getting pushed out of Apple, he hasn’t said a word publicly, and there’s been no word on what he’s been up to.
Amir Efrati at new technology site The Information is reporting that Forstall spent the year traveling to Italy and South Africa. He also advised a few startups, and became more philanthropically involved, focusing on education, poverty, and human rights.
As for what’s next, Efrati doesn’t have any news, but he says VC firms like Kleiner Perkins and Andreessen Horowitz have stayed in touch, but Apple employees think Forstall’s next move will be starting his own company.
The Information has a complete wrap of other valuable technology free agents, which you can read here >