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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Today is Google’s official 15th birthday, as you’ve probably read or noted from the pinata Google doodle by now.

While the primary colors in the logo and clean white background have stayed the same, Google search has changed a lot over the years.

Here’s what Google looked like the first day it launched.

Here’s the home page:


And here’s what a Google search page looked like. You can find this page today by doing this nifty Google search.

Google 1998

SEE ALSO: Look At How Much Google Search Has Changed Since 1998

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Amit Singhal of Google

Google rolled out the most significant change to its core search algorithm a month ago and almost nobody noticed. The change is designed to handle conversation search queries, such as “How do I tie a bow tie?” as well as it handles keyword search queries, such as “White House history.” It affects 90% of search results.

The company officially unveiled it to the press yesterday in California:

"It is really big," said Google search executive Amit Singhal.

In fact, Singhal said that what Google has done is the equivalent of switching out the core “engine” of Google’s search system for a new one. It’s perhaps the most significant change since 2001, according to the Search Engine Land blog.

But the new algorithm, nicknamed “Hummingbird,” has been operative for a month now, and yet few noticed. That means it’s basically a huge success. The last time Google made a slight tweak to its algorithm (“Panda”), in order to weed out spam and scraper sites, many mainstream web publishers screamed in protest as the search traffic they were used to receiving began plunging.

The fact that few have been screaming tells you that the new algo is doing exactly what Google wanted it to do: Work seamlessly.

You can get more details on conversational search here.

One last thing: At least initially, Hummingbird feels a bit like Facebook’s Graph Search, which is designed to handle more abstract or “latent” search queries such as “What movies do my friends like most?,” where users do not necessarily know what they are looking for.

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Screen Shot 2013 09 27 at 12.07.11 PM

A designer who previously worked with the NSA has created legible fonts that cannot be automatically analyzed by computers, Kyle VanHemert of Wired reports.

It’s like those boxes where you prove you’re not a robot, but used to communicate with other humans.

Sang Mun, who worked with America’s signals intelligence agency during his time in the Korean military, said he was inspired by Google’s attempt to mine almost all of the data that comes its way.

“Hearing about Google Glass—a 24/7 ubiquitous panopticon–the Google Goggles app and its new image search engine, and Google’s rigorous process of scanning every existing book … All these software algorithms are programmed to extract every bit of information out of every kind of input,” Mun told Wired.

The typeface, dubbed ZXX, exploits weakness in optical character recognition software to print messages that cannot be electronically parsed. Mun also claims that a message using a combination of the four available fonts could be used to stifle a camera peeking over a shoulder.

After a year spent researching and creating, Mun released the type as free download in 2012

Check it out:

The creation for a “defiant typeface” is justified.

This week a federal judge ruled that Google may have breached federal and California wiretapping laws for computer-scanning Gmail messages to create user profiles and provide targeted advertising.

The NSA also uses computers to search data for the identifying keywords or other “selectors,” storing the matches so that human analysts could examine them.

NSA legend-turned-whistleblower William Binney claims that the spy agency began using one of the programs he built, known as ThinThread, to map track electronic activities of Americans to collect “all the attributes that any individual has” and build a real-time profile based on that data.

Given the automatic data mining of human-generated data, fonts like ZXX may soon find a place in the digital world.

(h/t The Dish)

SEE ALSO: CYBER EXPERT: I Can Create A Real-Time Profile Of You

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valueforecast 5

PayPal has acquired Braintree, a company that specializes in powering mobile transactions. Meanwhile, Facebook announced that it’s pairing up with payment companies to roll out “Autofill,” which makes it easier for its users to buy things straight from their phones. 

Mobile devices are edging closer to fulfilling their long-delayed promise as digital wallets, and tech and financial services players do not want to be left out.

Consumers and merchants are beginning to see the advantage of channeling offline payments through mobile devices, rather than transacting in coins and cash, credit cards — or clunky register systems. 

In a new report from BI Intelligence we explain the main reasons why mobile payments are poised for takeoff, provide proprietary estimates for the growth and size of the mobile payments market in the years to come, and analyze the specific trends that will help shape the growth in mobile payments, including user concerns around security. We track the demographic and geographic nature of the consumers who will drive the growth, merchant-side adoption, and the mobile payments solutions that will lead the charge. 

Access the Full Report By Signing Up For A Free Trial Today »>

Here’s a brief overview of the current state of the mobile payments race: 

In full, the special report:

For full access to the report on Mobile Payments sign up for a free trial subscription today.

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BII social commerce demographics

Facebook Gift Shop, the social network’s experiment in e-commerce, was mothballed at the beginning of August 2013. 

Does that mean that social-powered e-commerce will never rise to become a huge Internet business?

Will social commerce consist of nice-to-look-at digital shopping catalogs that don’t drive sales? We don’t believe so, since scores of entrepreneurs and retailers have succeeded with merchandising on social media and adding social features to e-commerce sites. 

One successful strategy is to create time-sensitive offers that motivate users to snap out of casual browsing or social media-grazing and into a buying mood.

In a new report from BI Intelligence, we analyzed the most recent data and spoke to leaders in the social commerce space to understand how their companies are adding value at different stages of the consumer purchase funnel. To do so they’re building social networks around e-commerce platforms, partnering with brands, or otherwise transforming social commerce’s strengths in Pinterest-style digital window-shopping into a clear value proposition.

Access The Report, Graphics, And Data By Signing Up For A Free Trial Today »

Here are the top social commerce strategies: 

BII social commerce funnelIn full, the report: 

The report also includes an exclusive collection of eight charts and datasets, and a full-resolution version of our social commerce sales funnel graphic. Subscribers to BI Intelligence also have full access to our ongoing coverage of social commerce, including our preceding May 2013 Social Commerce Report

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Since Facebook has started to recover from its disappointing May 2012 initial public offering, the number one story about the company is that it has finally “figured out” mobile.

But if you ask the company’s head of ad sales, Carolyn Everson, Facebook still has a ways to go on the mobile front.

In June, Facebook announced it would consolidate its 27 different advertising products into a number about half that size.

It was then that the company dumped the widely despised “sponsored story,” which auto-generated Newsfeed advertisements from the pages users “liked,” in favor of adding this so-called “social context” to all of its ads.

Facebook also streamlined its product offerings by getting rid of unnecessary page post features, like ones that created a separate place for users to answer questions (which they could already do by leaving a comment) or created a separate link for users to accept a product offer (which they could already do by clicking on the photo of a page post).

Everson said that up until then, the company had multiple advertising products that did the same thing. Now, she says, Facebook must continue working to eliminate confusion and make itself a more accessible partner for advertisers.

"We were tough and confusing to work with," Everson said Wednesday at the Smarter Mobile Marketing conference in New York City. "We’re trying to simplify our products and we are relentless about that."

Everson also said the company has work to do on what she called “the measurement front,” saying that improving the company’s analytics was one of the reasons it purchased Microsoft’s Atlas ad server in February.

"Forget about what the stock is doing, forget what people are saying, by no means would we say we have everything figured out," Everson said.

SEE ALSO: Facebook’s ad chief says they have more primetime eyeballs than all the major TV networks combined

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Google is celebrating its 15th birthday today. 

In addition to today’s birthday “Google Doodle”, Circa’s Editor-in-Chief Anthony DeRosa alerted us to this cool trick:

The search automatically brings you to what Google looked like in the beginning, 15 years ago:

Google 1998

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Steve Ballmer Microsoft

Microsoft will get back on track thanks to its “tremendous resources and reach,” Silver Lake managing partner Mike Bingle said today at the Dow Jones Private Equity Analyst Conference.

"I think they’ve got a lot of levers within Microsoft to pull to continue to be a great business," said Bingle, whose firm has over $20 billion of assets under management and is one of the largest investors in technology.

"It will get its groove back," Bingle said.

In August, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced he will be stepping down after 13 years leading the company. His successor will face a spate of major challenges. As BI Intelligence found, Microsoft’s share of all global computing has fallen to 24%. Years ago, Microsoft had 90% of the computing market.

By now you know the story, but Microsoft has long been under siege from Apple and Google. The company’s fall from grace — and its inability to keep up with competitors — has been highly publicized.

Still, “The railroads didn’t become the airlines,” Bingle noted. “Everyone misses opportunities.”

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Unless you’re plugged into the Danish startup scene, you’ve probably never heard of Issuu.

What is weird about that: 70 million people used Issuu’s software last month.

Issuu is a YouTube-for-Magazines.

This is what an Issuu embed looks like:


According to the company, Issuu gets 20,000 uploads each day, and serves up 500 million pageviews per month.

You don’t have to pay to upload magazine PDFs to Issuu, but for $40 per month you get to dress-up your PDF with links and things. Small magazines, like Davidson College’s literary tabloid, Libertas, use Issuu. So do bigger ones like VICE.

Issuu CEO Joe Hyrkin (an ex-Yahoo) says tens of thousands of magazines are paying each month.

Issuu was founded in Copenhagen, but Hyrkin is moving its headquarters to Northern California, where he lives. 

Issuu obviously faces all kinds of challenges. 

Converting a printed magazine to a PDF is a quick and dirty way for a print magazine to go digital. But the number of print magazines in the world is shrinking. Won’t the magazines of the future build for digital first? Doesn’t that mean they’ll build apps for Apple or Amazon? Or webpages to be searched by Google?

Hrykin has all kinds of answers for these questions. He says Google search doesn’t bring up good niche content. He says magazine apps are too hard to make.

We’ll see! At the very least, 70 million unique visitors is nothing to sniff at. To put that number in context, check out this cool chart Hyrkin sent us:


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Screen Shot 2013 09 27 at 10.20.28 AM

Using nothing more than a smartphone resting next to a laptop, researchers at MIT and the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a new technique for logging your keystrokes based on sound and vibration.

In the paper on the project, they describe that a stationary smartphone is capable enough to translate typing sounds into actual text by estimating where on a keyboard the stroke landed based on its volume and force.

By “teaching” the phone a dictionary of words based on what they sound like typed out, they were able to get accurate text in return. Initially the accuracy was quite good, but as they added more and more words to this dictionary, it became less accurate in its interpretation.

It’s a pretty strong reminder that our devices are getting more and more versatile, enabling all kinds of new applications, good and bad alike. A smartphone is one of the most innocuous devices we see every day, and this is an unpleasant (but healthy) reminder to be mindful of your security as our technology becomes more and more developed.Screen Shot 2013 09 27 at 10.34.15 AM

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The population of Manhattan effectively doubles on workdays as people from the outer boroughs and suburbs commute onto the island.

A fascinating new visualization from Foursquare breaks down the population shift even further (via Daily Intelligencer).

The time-lapse video shows Foursquare user check-ins by residence, food, arts & entertainment, nightlife, professional, and other categories over the course of 24 hours.

Here is the amazing Vimeo video:

SEE ALSO: 32 Things Every New Yorker Should Do This Fall

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Gamification, or the use of game elements to promote desired behaviors among customers and employees, has been a popular business strategy for decades. Loyalty programs, cereal box prizes, employee-of-the-month schemes, hidden tokens within video games and applications — these are all examples.

But the always-on mobile age has vastly expanded opportunities for gamification. Integration with social networks means these experiences are shared with friends, acquaintances and co-workers. A smartphone-carrying employee or consumer might be drawn into a gamified experience at any time, wherever they are.

In fact, gamification represents the fusion of four trends: the explosion of social media usage, the mobile revolution, the rise of big data, and the emergence of wearable computing. Already, marketers, enterprises, and even governments are using gamification to achieve and expand their goals.

In a new report from BI Intelligence on the mobile gamificationwe take a look at the overall market for gamification tools, services, and applications, analyze the elements that are critical to a winning gamification strategy, look at the various typology of mobile gamification uses, and detail how to quantify the impact of gamification tactics. 

Access The Full Report And Data By Signing Up For A Free Trial Today »

Here’s an overview of the state of mobile gamification:

In full, the report:

To access BI Intelligence’s full reports on Mobile Gamification, sign up for a free trial subscription here.

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Erik Huggers Intel Media

Earlier this year, news broke that Intel — the company known for making chips for computers — was cooking up an ambitious project to blow up the pay-TV business as we know it.

Intel hired 300 people and reportedly invested $100 million in Intel Media, which was going to be an Internet-based alternative to cable, fiber, and satellite television. 

Intel built its own cable box. It built its own software. It was planning on including a DVR that recorded everything over a 3-day period so a consumer never missed a minute of TV. People who got an early look at the box, and its software, were blown away

It was supposed to be out to the public by the end of this year. 

Well, it sounds like it’s not going to be out this year. It sounds like it might not ever be out. 

Peter Kafka at All Things D says Intel is, “now looking for a strategic backer to help them fund and distribute the service. If they don’t find one soon, it’s possible the project will be scrapped.”

Intel is talking to Amazon and Samsung about some sort of partnership says Kafka, but it’s unclear how interested either company is in working with Intel.

Kafka also says Intel has failed to finalize a deal with any major TV programmers. 

Making matters even worse, Intel got a new CEO in May, Brian Krzanich. Krzanich doesn’t seem to be all that enthusiastic about the TV venture. He seems to be more interested in focusing on Intel’s core chip business, which has whiffed on mobile devices losing ground to ARM, the British company whose chip architecture powers iPhones, iPads, and just about every other mobile device. 

SEE ALSO: Why All The Tech Companies’ Plans To Kill Cable Are Doomed To Fail

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This post is sponsored by Tyco Integrated Security.

If you work in an isolated neighborhood, just walking to and from the parking lot can feel like the most dangerous part of the day. How can you keep everyone safe without turning your business into an armed camp? 

With Tyco Integrated Security’s video escort services, employees can call in, and have a guard watch over them as they get in and out of their cars. Using two-way audio, the guard can also speak to employees and call law enforcement if it’s necessary. 

Watch this video to learn how Tyco’s video escort service can safeguard your employees.


Get more info on Tyco Integrated Security’s Video Escort Service.

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Here’s a fantastic chart from IveyBusinessReview that drives home just how rapidly Blackberry collapsed.

It was VERY recently than Blackberry had 93% of smartphone sales on Verizon. Granted, the iPhone didn’t come to Verizon until 2011 (it originally came out in 2007), but 93% to 6% in about 4 years is a breathtaking drop in such a short time. And based on a quick querry of the BI office, almost nobody realized that their dominance of a major carrier was that huge.


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