Silicon Valley Jerks And The Companies They Ruin

Auguste Rodin was an obsessive genius, horrid toward his family and other people. This type of personality has been evident throughout history. Silicon Valley high tech jerks have also been around for decades. The “bad” Steve Jobs is only one of many examples. A more recent example would Uber’s Travis Kalanick, whose behavior arguable has severely damaged Uber’s business and its IPO. The conundrum we face with these people is that once they are in place it can be very difficult to remove them.

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French President Emmanuel Macron’s vow to make France a ‘start-up nation’ amid the uncertainty over Brexit is raising the question of whether Paris could supplant London as the capital of European tech. Since his election, Macron has wooed tech entrepreneurs with a string of initiatives in the form of lavish tax breaks, subsidies, and credits for research. In March 2018, he promised to invest €1.5 billion into artificial intelligence research through 2022. Some of these initiatives, in addition to Macron’s dynamism, have lured British tech companies who are looking to gain a foothold in Europe.

I want to talk a bit about networking with new acquaintances or renewing old contacts.  Networking is often dreaded because it sounds like being disingenuous or insincere. Good networking is genuine and sincere. I made the point in Week 1 that communication skills are crucial, and they can be learned. Warren Buffett has said that “public speaking” is the most important skill he ever learned.  So let’s discuss a few ideas on how to make networking less stressful and more successful.  In this video, I will list three key things to remember when networking and expand on why they are so important. My UBC Management students will remember this from my Management Communication course.

If You Get Technology “Convergence” Wrong, Nothing Else Matters I came across this book during my most recent […]

The following infographic provides an excellent overview of the World’s Most Innovative Countries and the weighted criteria used to rank the top 10. Glaringly, Canada is completely absent from this list. It is worth noting that eight of the ten countries listed have much smaller populations than Canada. That said, I have little essential disagreement with this list. Investment in research & development, leading to commercial technology innovation is crucial to a country’s economic growth and competitiveness in productivity. Canada lags in every category.

I am both encouraged by and skeptical of these subtle changes to research funding, and glaring problems remain. As the writer, UBC Mathematics Professor, Nassif Ghoussoub, himself points out, the largest portion of government research & innovation funding is “business as usual.” The $500 Million earmarked as an Automotive Innovation Fund, is an almost laughable attempt to disguise as subsidy as funding for innovation. Distinct changes in policy and procedure are reported, as recommended by UBC President Toope, and MITACS CEO, Arvind Gupta. But with this federal government, only time will tell what will actually emerge.

At the request of Professor Ray Taheri of the UBC Engineering Faculty, I gave this guest lecture to all 4th year engineering students in ENGR 499 Capstone Project. From my background in entrepreneurial mentorship and entrepreneurial finance, I focused on the unique challenges engineers face in considering starting and developing a new venture. I discuss the full range of issues, but my personal emphasis, from experience, is the “character” issue. Some excellent engineers have successfully made the transition to entrepreneurship and executive management, but for others the odyssey is a bridge too far. Consequently, I place significant emphasis on honest self-analysis and appreciation of one’s strengths and weaknesses. Listening is a priceless skill.

I came across this book during my most recent visit to the UBC Vancouver campus. As good as I think this book is at focusing attention, in workbook style, on the importance of market and industry analysis, there is an issue that I think is not adequately addressed by any model or theory: not Porter, not STEEP or SWAT. Convergence is the issue.