After watching “The Great Hack” on Netflix I am appalled by the absence of any moral compass at Cambridge Analytica, which transformed Big Data into a political weapon. Other disturbing examples are Uber’s former corporate culture and Facebook’s collusion with CA in abusing our privacy. These cases are prima facie evidence of the crucial need and the opportunity to integrate the Humanities and ethics with deep technology development. I began my career as a Humanities graduate at Intel Corporation working closely with Ivy League MBA’s and senior engineers. We shared our knowledge and learned together to enable the company to excel. The best companies are those grounded in an appreciation of human values, companies that seek out Humanities graduates with a passion for technology to balance out their teams.
Since Facebook announced its new Libra currency and mobile payments scheme, the global reaction has been very mixed. Libra is not truly a cryptocurrency though it will use blockchain. It will be pegged to a reserve currency, which cryptocurrencies are not. Libra will “potentially” be governed by an association independent of Facebook, though that association remains non-binding and sketchy at this point. Potential regulatory issues abound around the World, and Facebook is currently not viewed very favorably by many governments. But most interesting to me, Libra appears to be modeled after Kenya’s M-Pesa mobile payments system, the world’s leading mobile payments system, invented by mobile carrier Safaricom. Then I asked myself if Facebook, knowing that it needs to move away from selling personal data, has seized on Safaricom’s M-Pesa as its new revenue model.
I want to more fully explain the concept of Strategic Inflection Points. I have referred to this topic in my Week 5 and Week 11 update videos. Former Intel CEO Andy Grove first described a strategic inflection point as a time in the life of a business when its fundamentals are about to change. That change can mean an opportunity to rise to new heights. But it may just as likely signal the beginning of the end. An inflection point can be the result of an action taken by a company or an action taken by another entity. An excellent recent example may be Facebook’s announced intention to enter the cryptocurrency market. The markets have already reacted sharply to Facebook’s move. Analysts have suggested that it may significantly alter the forecasts for cryptocurrencies. Change is inevitable and change is happening more rapidly than ever. Adaptation to change is imperative for corporate survival.
Mayo0615 Reblog from July 22, 2013 It dawned on me that my blog post from July 2013, still […]
Since I joined the high-tech industry years ago, Silicon Valley has had a fundamental need for highly educated engineers and scientists that could not be filled by American graduates. This reality has been bemoaned by Congressional politicians for decades now, who have essentially done nothing to increase the emphasis on STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and math) for resident Americans, and who instead chose to provide the H1-B Visa enabling Silicon Valley high-tech companies to employ immigrants to fill these crucial positions, and has enabled the high-tech industry to thrive. The election of Donald Trump has changed all that. His platform is almost completely devoid of any acknowledgment of the crucial importance of high-tech innovation to U.S. productivity and economic growth, the need for H1-B immigrants and the parallel need for greater investment in STEM education.
With good intentions, and also a good dose of Facebook business strategy to expand its base of users, Mark Zuckerberg has struck out to promote Free Basics, a free limited Internet for the poor in less developed countries sponsored by Facebook and its local telecommunications partners. While on the face of it Free Basics would seem to have merit, Zuckerberg has run into a wall of opposition. On close inspection of the details, Facebook’s problem, despite all of its global corporate sophistication, appears to be naïveté about the foreign markets it is trying to enter. It is possible to argue that Zuckerberg and Facebook have the best of intentions and sound arguments. But the best of intentions and sound arguments mean nothing if the key element lacking is a clear understanding of the current foreign market, and the crucial need to adapt to it or fail. Zuckerberg could have looked no further back than 2013 for clues to why he has failed.
LinkedIn shares yesterday plummeted precipitously after the company announced poorer than expected results, and downgraded prospects for the remainder of the year. Looking beyond the downgraded forecast and the costs associated with the $1.5 Billion acquisition of lynda.com, some analysts scrutinizing the press release, noted that there was no growth reported in the user base of “over 350 million users”, despite moves into China and other markets. Premium user revenue grew significantly but that did not come near to offsetting the total revenue number. Revenue and number of users are the two numbers followed most closely by investment analysts.
LinkedIn’s recent acquisitions have been noted as a LinkedIn strategy for compensating for flat overall user growth, and for diversifying into new markets to augment growth.
…Or any other hot company in Silicon Valley… I have told my UBC Management students this story. It […]
Hopefully this comes as no surprise to many, but for some, alas, I am afraid they have yet to get the email. It’s yet another case of the 1% versus the 99%. Only one percent of Web app developers have made any real money, the other ninety-nine percent are SOL. Forty-seven percent of those, make absolutely no money or less than $100 on their app. Not surprisingly there are now over a million apps on the Apple store, and when you add all of the other sources for apps, you can see that the problem is coming to a head. I saw this coming over two years ago and wrote about the problem on this blog, citing a New York Times story published about that time, describing the dark underbelly of the Web app development culture. In a satire of the problem, last year The Onion published a gag story about a new app called “Squander” that enabled users to “geolocate others nearby who had also wasted $2 on the same app.”