Now, it’s a behemoth. It’s home to more than 86 million blogs and it receives about 5 billion monthly pageviews, according to Quantcast. Recent reports state that Facebook and Yahoo are both interested in acquiring Karp’s company for $1 billion.
For a 26-year-old who’s already worth more than $200 million on paper, Karp lives a modest life. He prefers a night in with his girlfriend to a crazy night out. Most days, he rides a Vespa or walks to Tumblr’s headquarters.
But he’s also traveled the world and enjoys taking fancy cars for weekend getaways.
What’s like being the 26-year-old found of Tumblr? Here’s a look into Karp’s life as depicted (how else?) in his Tumblr blog.
Ben Bernanke has delivered his commencement speech for this year’s graduates of Simon’s Rock, a quirky college in Massachusetts.
The whole thing is here. It might be the only commencement speech all year to contain footnotes.
The speech is about economics, but rather than discuss the short or medium term, he talks about the very long run, and whether things are likely to change a lot over the next 50 years, and what role technology or innovation will play.
And in doing that, he looks back at some of the amazing changes from the past centuries and decades.
A few of the facts that Bernanke cites:
So then Bernanke asks whether the long-run will see massive changes in technology and life improvement like we’ve seen since 1913 and 1963.
Bernanke answers unequivocally yes, based on the fact that the world is seeing more and more innovators and geniuses working together in a way like never before:
…pessimists may be paying too little attention to the strength of the underlying economic and social forces that generate innovation in the modern world. Invention was once the province of the isolated scientist or tinkerer. The transmission of new ideas and the adaptation of the best new insights to commercial uses were slow and erratic. But all of that is changing radically. We live on a planet that is becoming richer and more populous, and in which not only the most advanced economies but also large emerging market nations like China and India increasingly see their economic futures as tied to technological innovation. In that context, the number of trained scientists and engineers is increasing rapidly, as are the resources for research being provided by universities, governments, and the private sector. Moreover, because of the Internet and other advances in communications, collaboration and the exchange of ideas take place at high speed and with little regard for geographic distance. For example, research papers are now disseminated and critiqued almost instantaneously rather than after publication in a journal several years after they are written. And, importantly, as trade and globalization increase the size of the potential market for new products, the possible economic rewards for being first with an innovative product or process are growing rapidly. In short, both humanity’s capacity to innovate and the incentives to innovate are greater today than at any other time in history.
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer will make some kind of an announcement on Monday.
Obviously, some people think that Mayer will announce that Yahoo is buying Tumblr for as much as $1.1 billion. Word has been circling that the deal that may get approved as soon as Sunday night, according to AllThingsD.
The billion-dollar price tag, if it proves true, seems shocking given that Tumblr has reportedly only generated $13 million in revenue in 2012, after taking $125 million in investor funding.
But, as Business Insider’s Jim Edward’s points out, Tumblr has become a cool tool among young people. They use it as blogging platform, a custom-news feed and a social network and it would be easy to monetize with advertising in the right hands.
Yahoo’s board is meeting Sunday evening to decide whether to buy Tumblr for $1.1 billion in cash, Kara Swisher and Peter Kafka reported last night.
So that means there are only a few hours left for Facebook to submit a compelling counter-offer.
Anecdotally, young people are deciding that Facebook is no longer cool and are decamping for Instagram and Tumblr.
Facebook already owns Instagram.
So now the question is whether it also wants to own Tumblr.
The man who broke the original Yahoo-might-buy-Tumblr story (along with Ms. Swisher), Peter Kafka, told us this morning that thinks the chatter that Facebook will swoop in with a massive wad of cash at the last moment is overblown.
Facebook has had plenty of opportunity to buy Tumblr, Mr. Kafka suggests.
If Facebook actually wanted Tumblr, in other words, Facebook would have already bought Tumblr.
So that leaves Yahoo.
According to Ms. Swisher and Mr. Kafka, the Yahoo-Tumblr deal is already fully baked, with Tumblr founder David Karp getting a four-year deal to stay on as Tumblr boss and grow the site independently from Yahoo. This may mean that Yahoo is not planning to aggressively “monetize” Tumblr after the deal, and that Yahoo will therefore not have to deal immediately with Tumblr’s reported porn problem.
The $1.1 billion purchase price, meanwhile, will vaporize more than a third of Yahoo’s cash balance, which will presumably leave some at the company wondering whether Yahoo should have spent so much money buying back its stock over the last couple of quarters.
In any event, we’ll know in a few more hours whether Facebook really wants Tumblr or whether it’s going, going, gone to Marissa Mayer and Yahoo…
Last year, Facebook marked a new milestone in its nine-year history.
It lost users.
While the network did pass the 1 billion monthly active user threshold globally in 2012, Facebook also lost 1.4 million U.S. monthly active users late last year, a small but symbolic decline. Nor was it the only network experiencing a slowdown.
After years of double-digit expansion, social media use in the U.S. leveled off markedly last year. American social media users grew an estimated 6.8% in 2012, a far cry from 30 percent growth rates just a few years ago. With so many of the country’s 221 million netizens already logging into social networks, growth is forecast to slow to a trickle in the years ahead.
Overseas, however, the social media landscape is entirely different.
In India, social media users grew by an estimated 51.7% in 2012, no small change in a country of 1.25 billion people. Indonesia followed closely behind with a 51.6% growth rate. China’s social media user base expanded 19.9%. Latin America grew at a 16.3% clip, while Russia grew by 11.1%.
To be sure, an ever-growing number of these international users are turning to Facebook. In fact, Facebook is now estimated to be the most popular social network in all but 10 countries.
But there are numerous and notable holdouts. Around the world, localized, country-specific social networks are expanding, commanding the attention of billions of users in some of the planet’s fastest-growing economies. For global companies willing to dive in, the rewards are sizeable. But so are the risks.
International Social Media Giants
Perhaps nowhere are stakes higher than in China, where the blocking of Facebook and Twitter has given rise to wildly popular homegrown alternatives. By some estimates, nearly half of the country’s population of 1.3 billion is online and active socially.
The Chinese social media landscape, however, is far from settled. The most popular networks are complex hybrids, combining the functionality of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and instant messaging in one platform. Dozens of sites vie for supremacy, and millions of “zombie accounts” make it difficult to pinpoint where users are most active.
The aging Goliath of Chinese social media is QQ, an instant messaging platform started in 1999 that claims some 800 million monthly active users. Nowadays, users treat QQ as a jumping off point to access a range of popular networking sites controlled by its parent company, Tencent Holdings.
Arguably the most important of these is WeChat, a mobile platform similar to WhatsApp that mashes up instant messaging and video calls with photo sharing and status updates. Launched in January 2011, WeChat (known as Weixin in China) already counts 190 million monthly active users (nearly as many as Twitter) and is growing at an astounding clip of 25 million users per month. Brands like Starbucks, Nike, and Durex are just beginning to test the waters.
Another Tencent offering is microblogging platform Tencent Weibo. A fusion of Twitter and Facebook, it counts 277 million monthly active users, with a strong base in smaller cities and less economically developed areas.
As on Twitter, messages on the network and other weibos like are limited to 140 characters. But, since each Chinese character represents an entire word or phrase, users have significantly more room for expression than afforded by a standard Tweet.
Popular in larger cities and among educated users, Sina Weibo has drawn significant attention from international businesses, with 25% of Fortune 500 companies already onboard. It’s China’s original weibo and remains perhaps the country’s most important social network overall.
The presence of so many competing networks, not to mention regulatory and censorship hurdles, poses distinct challenges for global companies wading into Chinese social waters. But rewards are just as great. Chinese netizens made a staggering $160 billion worth of online transactions last year, closing in on the estimated $226 billion spent in the U.S. Half of this sum was spent by just 17% of buyers, a coveted demographic known collectively as the “golden shoppers.”
VK’s functionality is reminiscent of Facebook, with the familiar news feed and Like button, as well as Public Pages specifically for businesses. But VK also has hashtags like Twitter and photo filters like Instagram, and it’s used for music and video storage and content sharing.
Demographically, VK users have traditionally been on the younger side, with professionals increasingly migrating to Facebook. In fact, VK is often looked at as the network of the people, useful for generating buzz but not necessarily for pitching high-end products. However, it is a paradise for millions of small businesses and serves an important niche reselling goods from Chinese online giant TaoBao. Not to mention that international brands including the BBC, National Geographic, Victoria Beckham and Tom Cruise have all plunged into VK with active ad campaigns.
Slightly less popular is a site called Odnoklassniki, Russian for “classmates.” (While monthly active users aren’t disclosed, the network claims 148 million total registered users.) Positioned as a network for finding relatives and schoolmates, Odnoklassniki skews toward an older crowd and is particularly popular in less economically developed regions.
In appearance, it resembles Facebook. However, a popular paid feature also enables users to assume “invisible status” and visit other users’ pages without being noticed. While officially Russia’s “second network,” Odnoklassniki enjoys widespread cultural cachet, as evident in this popular music video, showing a schoolgirl singing about the network and the joys of “online communicating.”
While global companies willing to look beyond Facebook and Twitter have a chance to reach billions of social media users, gaining a foothold isn’t necessarily easy.
English may be the international language of business, but it’s hardly the language of choice for online commerce and socializing. A recent European Union study showed only 18% of web surfers would make purchases from sites not in their native language. For social networking, users are even more inclined to communicate in their native tongue. Tapping country-specific networks, therefore, starts with effective translation.
Social media etiquette and expectations also vary from country to country. International marketing giants Lewis PR recently ventured a few ground rules. The Dutch are notoriously averse to self-promotion, while in Russia puffery is par for the course. The Brits admire cheekiness done right, while Singaporeans are straight-laced. Privacy is paramount in Germany, while anonymity is often key in China. While these social types are obviously generalized, they do reveal that social media mores are far from universal.
Social media users’ need for speed presents other challenges. If a company plunges into social networks halfway around the world, will representatives be able to respond in real time? What happens if a customer in Beijing complains and staff in New York are already fast asleep? A minor issue left unattended overnight can can grow into a viral nightmare by the morning.
The right technology is also critical. Social media management systems - software for monitoring multiple social networks at once from one page - can help. Some systems are already incorporating country-specific sites into their lineups. At HootSuite, for example, we allow users to move between Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and local networks in China and Russia, not to mention Latin America and Western Europe, from a single dashboard. The means less time spent navigating exotic interfaces and more time spent communicating directly with users.
Ultimately, however, global success on social networks - whether localized platforms or transnational giants like Twitter and Facebook - comes down not to equipment but to local knowledge and sensitivity, plus a little common sense.
Just ask Kenneth Cole.
During Egypt’s revolution in 2011, the clothing designer reached out to his tens of thousands of followers around the world with this message of inspiration. “Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online … .”
Here’s guessing sales in Egypt haven’t exactly been brisk since.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - Back on Earth, Canadian astronaut and cyberspace tweeter Chris Hadfield is getting a rough re-introduction to gravity after a five-month stint aboard the International Space Station, the former commander told reporters during a video webcast from Houston.
Hadfield became a social media rock star with his zero-gravity version of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and a continuous stream of commentary on Twitter about his life in orbit. But living without gravity for five months has left him feeling dizzy, weak and prematurely aged. A veteran of three space flights, he is wearing a pressure suit under his clothes to help his circulation as his body re-adapts to getting blood back to his brain.
“Without the constant pull-down of gravity, your body gets a whole new normal, and my body was quite happy living in space without gravity,” Hadfield, 53, said in a video conference call with Canadian reporters on Thursday, three days after returning to Earth.
The video conference was posted on the Canadian Space Agency’s UStream channel.
“Right after I landed I could feel the weight of my lips and tongue … I hadn’t realized that I had learned to talk with a weightless tongue,” he said.
He is suffering overall body soreness, particularly in his neck and back which are again having to support his head after months in weightlessness.
“It feels like I played full-contact hockey, but it’s getting better by the hour,” Hadfield said. “The subtle things and the big things are taking some re-adaptation to get used to and they are coming back one by one.”
Hadfield, who is the first from Canada to command a space station crew, NASA astronaut Thomas Marshburn and Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko landed in Kazakhstan on Monday. He and Marshburn were then flown to Houston to begin rehabilitation.
As a departing finale Hadfield created a music video rendering of Bowie’s classic “Space Oddity,” which as of Friday had 13 million hits on YouTube.
Hadfield, who is the lead singer and bass guitarist in the all-astronaut rock band Max Q, said it is too early to think about what he will do next.
“For now, I’m still trying to stand up straight. I have to sit down in the shower so I don’t faint and fall down, and I don’t have calluses on the bottom of my feet yet, so I’m walking around like I walked on hot coals,” he said.
It usually takes about three weeks until a returning astronaut can return to driving, according to the Canadian Space Agency.
“We’re sort of tottering around like two old duffers in an old folks home,” Hadfield said, referring to his crew mate Marshburn.
Hadfield’s orbital odyssey ended with a parachute descent of their Soyuz space capsule onto the steppes of Kazakhstan.
“We hit the Earth just like a car crash, like we expected,” Hadfield said. “There was enough wind so that we rolled up on our side. I was the guy hanging from the ceiling.”
“Our first true sense of being home was a window full of the dirt of the Earth and the smell of spring and the growing grasses in Kazakhstan wafting in through the open hatch,” he said.
(Editing by David Adams and Jackie Frank)
A former Amazon Web Services engineer recently conducted an Ask-Me-Anything session on Reddit, and one of the more surprising things he said was just how much of a threat Google’s cloud computing service is to Amazon.
That’s because Google’s cloud is faster than Amazon’s, he said. With cloud computing, where apps run on rented servers over the Internet, performance is very important.
Not that Google is going to topple Amazon’s cloud business anytime soon. Amazon is by far the biggest cloud in every way, from the number of companies that use it to the number of apps and third-party management tech for it.
“Well, no, I don’t consider Azure a threat to AWS, but I consider Google a threat to AWS. Google’s cloud has been outperforming AWS since very private beta and performance means a lot in the cloud.
“Anyone who thinks there is a ‘cloud war’ currently and AWS is seeing any type of real challenge is just fooling themselves. Nobody can compete currently with the size of AWS, they were the first in and will be the last out.
“Google however will make it rain a bit, I’ve been using their cloud platform a little bit lately and I have to say. It’s hella impressive.”
I’m in Philly for the weekend, determined to prove I can have a great time for less than $100.
So far, I’m having a blast and I’ve still got 80 bucks to play around with.
One of my biggest concerns in planning this trip was figuring out how to get around in the cheapest way possible. Luckily, Philly is very pedestrian-friendly, so I’ve been getting away with walking just about everywhere.
But last night, I really needed a ride. It was after midnight, train service had stopped, and I didn’t want to fool with buses without knowing which line to take or how to get back to my host’s apartment.
It didn’t help that everyone at the downtown bar where I was hanging out gave me those big “Oh, girl, NO!” eyes when I told them I was thinking about legging it home.
So I decided to take a gamble on a free ride-share service called SideCar I heard about. It’s supposed to be the anti-taxi. Launched in San Francisco less than a year ago, the SideCar app hooks up willing drivers with people who need a cheap ride, kind of like Uber. But the difference is that SideCar lets ordinary car owners sign up to drive passengers—whether or not they’re licensed.
SideCar has expaned to eight cities, and Philly was its first location on the East Coast. They’ve been battling the city’s Parking Authority (PPA) ever since launching earlier this year. The PPA, which regulates taxis, thinks they’re a rogue service passing themselves off as a cheap cab service. In fact, after a “sting” operation in February, the PPA impounded three vehicles driven by SideCar drivers and shut the whole operation down.
Or so they thought.
SideCar is still going strong in Philly, operating its service for free to riders until it convinces the PPA that it’s legal.
It’s faced similar kick back elsewhere, but the company has been sending fleets of drivers into cities like Philly, Boston and even New York anyway, offering free rides on Friday and Saturday nights from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m..
Apart from the legal troubles, my guess is that by offering free rides, SideCar is hoping to get enough people hooked on the service to kick up public support and help them pass muster with local governments.
SideCar maintains that they’re simply a “technology-based platform that enables peer-to-peer ridesharing.” The drivers own their cars and SideCar vets them individually, running “more checks on our drivers than taxi or limo services,” it says, “Plus, all matched rides are recorded and GPS tracked for safety.”
This all brings us back to last night, when at 12:30 a.m. I logged into the SideCar app and punched in my location. A driver was nearby, luckily, and once he confirmed his availability, I sat back and waited.
Within 10 minutes, I got a phone call from the cordial driver, who even offered to drive a couple of blocks further to pick me up when we realized I’d given him the wrong address. I didn’t have to wonder where he was or when he’d arrive. I could watch his car inch along via the SideCar app’s GPS tracker, which also gave me his ETA.
From there, it was like hitching a ride with a friend. I hopped in, he drove along to my destination, and we shot the breeze for the 15-minute drive. I don’t want to get him in trouble, so I won’t describe his car, but it felt brand new, very clean, and didn’t have a meter.
According to my driver, SideCar has indeed been paying its drivers –– though, according to its website, they don’t consider drivers “employees” –– an hourly wage to pick up passengers until they can start officially charging for rides.
My driver, who has worked for SideCar about two months, said he gives about 25 to 30 rides per night on the weekend, and he works at a bakery during the day to earn extra cash.
When he dropped me off, I offered to tip him and he turned me down. I felt that familiar pang of doubt whenever someone offers something for free, a little voice in my head that whispers, ‘This is weird! Why are you being nice?’
But I just shrugged it off, scooped up my bags, and headed home –– safe and sound.
This weekend I attended a wedding where smartphones being used as cameras were everywhere.
It really highlighted for me how people don’t live in the moment anymore. The idea of removing the barrier between you and the moment you are enjoying has always been a dream of mine. I resent spending time at my kids’ birthday parties watching the candles be blown out on a 4-inch screen instead of being fully immersed in my children’s happiness.
Until now there hasn’t been a potentially legit way to live in the moment AND preserve the memory. Enter Google Glass.
In my day job, I oversee the future of the product direction at Aviary. Our company mission is to democratize creativity. We provide a powerful photo editor that is relied on by thousands of companies and millions of people each day. So I’m not going to miss an opportunity to immerse myself in new photographic mediums we might need to develop for.
We were one of the first in line to buy Glass at Google IO last year.
To be candid, my first hour with Glass wasn’t great. I won’t go into all the problems it has here. There are other more technical reviews for that. And to be fair, my disappointment is probably my own fault for buying into the hype. Despite the marketing, this is not a super-jet. It’s the Wright brother’s first plane. If I had looked forward to Glass as just a taste of things to come, I wouldn’t have been let down.
I decided to ignore my first impressions and forced myself to wear Glass for an entire weekend, focusing exclusively on the photography aspect of it. That’s all I really cared about after all: Could I use Glass as the solution to my inability to both live in the moment and preserve my memories? That’s what I wanted to find out.
I would set to doing all the suburban weekend father things I normally do, and see how using Glass as my exclusive camera changed my everyday life: I alternate between lugging around a DSLR and using my iPhone 5 camera to capture the recordable parts of my family life: My son’s Little League and hockey games.
Playing stickball with my kids in the park. Family biking and rollerblading. My daughter’s piano practice. Eating in restaurants, with 4 kids in tow.
One of the biggest challenges with Glass is not feeling like a douchebag / nerd / show-off when you wear them in public. What was clear to me was that strangers do notice them and they do not judge you negatively at all (yet). Quite the opposite actually. Google Glass acted like a welcoming beacon for strangers to come over and make small talk (always resulting in a request to try them on).
I’m a bit shy and my interests don’t often dovetail with the doctors and lawyers of suburbia, so it was pleasant to find myself talking technology with strangers. Some people may find this attention uncomfortable though. I expect it will diminish as Glass becomes more common.
Actually interacting with my children became a pleasure. I will often come back from vacations with thousands of photos (no hyperbole) in my struggle to get the “perfect shot.”
And while I love taking the photos, the minimalist in me always thinks about how clean and enjoyable my life would be without the added distraction of a camera.
Having an uninterrupted, undistracted catch with my son simply couldn’t happen before with a phone or camera in my hand. Watching him make a great play and not having to view it through a viewfinder means I actually get to enjoy the moment in real-life with all of my senses intact.
To be sure, there are still distractions (i.e. the voice controls in a noisy Little League game don’t work very well) and there is a learning curve to not missing key moments by spending 5 seconds navigating the voice menu to take a photo or record a video (Google smartly provides a shortcut snapshot button on the frame). You are aware it’s on your face and you can’t move it completely out of your field of view, which can be headache inducing. But as you learn to use it, these first-world problems become less relevant. You can focus on being in the moment.
Glass photography can help society too. I think about the concerts and children’s plays I go to where rude people (read: everyone) hold their phones and sometimes tablets in the air to record what’s in front of them, disrupting the experience for everyone behind them. Glass also has the potential to fix that problem.
What will the impact on photography be?
It wasn’t until I got home and downloaded all of my photos and videos that the importance of Glass really struck me. I could easily tell which photos and video were taken by me and which were taken by my children. The impact of point of view photography is not something I had ever really thought about, though Google had hammered that point home in their original trailers.
Is that really how gigantic I look to my children? I remember adults being huge when I was a child, but I’d forgotten just how big until now. Seeing mundane photographs from the natural height and angle of their eyes gives them life and makes the photographer relatable. These photos are notartistic, but they have a human soul.
POV photography is such a natural way to return to a moment in time or momentarily slip on someone else’s body and see the world through their eyes. While pro and creative photographers will not give up their hand-held equipment in this lifetime, I am certain that this will become the standard mode of photography for the common masses sometime in the very near future.
Google Glass is an amazing idea whose time has come. Future iterations and competition will make devices like this even better for photography. I can’t wait for Aviary to be a part of this developing medium.
In 1994, Steve Jobs sat down in front of a camera for the Silicon Valley Historical Association and offered a lot of awesome advice about success and failure from his own personal experience.
We previously posted a clip from this interview, less than two-minutes long, where Jobs gave the best tip ever on how to succeed: ask for help. He told the story of being a 12-year-old kid who picked up the phone and called legendary tech founder Bill Hewlett and asked for help.
Here’s another clip now making the rounds on the Internet, too. It is also less than two minutes long, and shows Jobs talking about the secret to his famous “reality distortion field.”
That secret is to realize that “Everything around you that you call ‘life’ was made up by people that were no smarter than you.”
It’s not exactly clear why Apple has banned the app.
We’d guess the reason is that BWF is a brutally honest way to go about dating.
The app helps you find a Facebook friend to hook up with. It sends the person a “nudge” that indicates your interest. If that person likes the idea, then the rest is up to you.
BWF’s new mobile app makes it easy to swipe up to hang out and swipe down to “bang.”
For the past week, there’s been a big brouhaha at Bloomberg over how reporters for the business news service have been using the company’s terminals to monitor employees on Wall Street.
Some reporters have apparently used that information to find leads for the articles they write.
Palmisano will conduct a review of Bloomberg’s privacy policies and help Bloomberg come up with rules on what reporters can and cannot do with terminal subscriber data, reports the New York Times’ Amy Chozick.
To recap: Goldman Sachs complained when it learned that Bloomberg staffers could see which of its employees had been logging into Bloomberg’s proprietary terminals. One reporter used that info as a lead for a story. She called Goldman asking if one of its employees had left the company, based on the fact that the employee hadn’t logged into the terminal for weeks.
So investigations have commenced, too. So far, Bloomberg has hired a top editor to come up with rules on how reporters can use terminal data, hired a law firm to investigate, appointed a compliance officer and now, asked Palmisano to conduct a review.
There’s even some talk that Goldman might create its own Bloomberg-like terminal chat system.
What’s it like when two well-known startup founders live under the same roof?
Brit and Dave Morin first met a few years ago. Their first date was over coffee, talking about technology. Now they’re married. Both worked for Apple. Dave went on to work for Facebook, then he launched mobile social network Path. Brit founded Brit & Co, a site that teaches people how to embark on creative projects.
It isn’t all fun being a well-known couple in tech though. Snark is on the rise in Silicon Valley, and Morin says you need a thick skin to deal with it. “I don’t know why Silicon Valley is so snarky!” Morin says.
But there are a lot of perks that come with marrying a fellow entrepreneur.
“I think it’s nice to have someone who will always be your beta tester and has been in all the same situations,” says Morin.
Here’s what it’s like to be a well-known couple in tech:
Produced by Business Insider Video
Google’s big keynote at its I/O developers conference this week wore me out.
Not because it lasted a grueling three hours and fifty minutes, but because of what was announced. With every new product update, every new feature, every new virtual service, it became more and more clear that Google isn’t just a search company that makes loads of cash by showing you ads. It’s creeping into every aspect of our digital, physical, and private lives at an exponential rate.
I’m still trying to wrap my mind around it.
Google isn’t just the backbone of the Internet anymore. It’s rapidly becoming the backbone of your entire life, all thanks to data you’re voluntarily giving up to a private company based on your Web searches, photos, Gmail messages, and more.
After spending three days at I/O this week, it became more apparent than ever that unless millions (billions?) of people suddenly change their mind and start using alternative tech tools, or unless the government steps in waving the anti-trust banner, our lives, our history, and our personal wealth could be managed by one company –– Google.
It’s the most apparent in Google Now, a voice-powered personal assistant that launched on Android phones last year. At I/O, it became even more clear that Google no longer sees search as returning a list of 10 or 20 relevant links when you type in a query. Google Now is much more than that. It’s the embodiment of that geeky dream of a “Star Trek Computer,” an intelligent machine that understands natural language and real-world context to assist you before you even know you need assistance.
Google Now scans your email and knows when your Amazon package is arriving. It knows what sports scores to show you based on the teams you’ve searched for. It knows what stock prices to show you based on the companies you search for. It scans your calendar and reminds you when to leave to make your appointment on time. And all that data is delivered to you without you having to ask.
Following I/O, Google Now is more prevalent than before. Google recently launched the app on iPhones and iPads, and it’s coming to the desktop soon if you use the Chrome Web browser. Next year, you’ll be wearing Google Now on your face if you buy Google Glass.
Then there are photos, arguably the most personal things you share online. Now, Google scans every single one you upload to Google+. It can learn what your family members look like and group photos of them into albums automatically. It can tell if your subjects are smiling. If they’re not smiling, it can stitch their faces in from other images where they are and create the perfect photo for you. It knows if you’re taking pictures of mountains or puppies or buildings or famous landmarks and group your photo albums together accordingly.
It’s creepy and magical at the same time.
Google Glass didn’t get any stage time during the I/O keynote, but it was still a significant part of the event. You couldn’t go anywhere –– the press room, the cafeteria, the restroom –– without someone’s computerized headgear staring back at you. It was oddly discomforting knowing that thousands of people had the ability to take a photo or video of you just by winking at their Glass.
It’s far too early to tell if Glass will take off when it’s ready for the general public, but if it does, then it’ll be just another example of how Google has reached into the physical space to take over everything we see and do.
I could go on and on, but this week I learned that Google has its hand in almost every aspect day-to-day life and its penetration is only accelerating.
Android is growing like crazy with 900 million activations to date, and it has the potential to connect billions of people to the Internet for the first time in the next few years. Google Maps has a new look, and it’s turned into a snappy way to find places to visit and get recommendations. Gmail is turning into a money transfer service. I can only imagine what Google co-founder Sergey Brin is working on at Google X, the company’s lab for futuristic products.
The question to ask now is, are we OK with this? Does the benefit of faster search, better transportation, and automated news updates outweigh giving up so much of our lives to a computer run by a private company that mines our data?
They’re issues we’d have to tackle gradually, but hopefully not before Google advances faster than we can adapt.
There’s a major revolution going on right now in enterprise technology.
Apps, devices, cloud computing, big data, networks, software are all being overhauled.
But they aren’t working alone. Behind the big names are thousands of people doing their part to change the IT world.
Among them, some stand out for handing critical areas for their respective companies.
Fred Luddy describes himself as “just a programmer” but he’s known as the quiet genius behind ServiceNow, a super successful enterprise cloud company that helped cure the IPO market after the Facebook disaster.
ServiceNow is a cloud tool that let’s IT departments manage their help desk and other technology projects.
Luddy started the company out of near desperation, he told Business Insider. He had been the CTO of Peregrine Systems when it filed for bankruptcy in 2002. His net worth “dropped to zero” overnight. So he figured he had nothing to lose by starting his own gig.
His net worth is fine now. ServiceNow has a $5 billion market cap and he was paid $11 million (stock plus salary) in 2012 alone.
Partha Ranganathan led the research team for what is perhaps HP’s biggest breakout enterprise product of 2013, the Moonshot server.
This is a server that uses low-power chips that power mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. These servers use 89 percent less energy, and cost about half as much, as traditional servers.
Low-power servers are set to revolutionize the data center industry and thanks to Ranganathan’s work, HP could become a power-player here.
At 40, he’s also the youngest HP Fellow on staff.
LinkedIn has forever changed the way businesses hire employees.
It also created new ways for business folk to meet, connect, conduct business.
Amy Parnell lead LinkedIn’s redesigns for the uber important Homepage and Profile pages. She’s known for being a wiz at all things tech: engineering, web development and data science and is a rising star to watch within the company.