Category Archives: Cloud Computing

Instagram deters deletion with reversible “archive” option

 When Instagrammers don’t get enough likes or think their posts look boring, they sometimes impetously delete them. But they can later regret this common emergent behavior which also deprives Instagram of monetizable content and your history in images that could keep you locked into the service. So Instagram is rolling out a new feature called “archive” that lets you hide any… Read More
Microsoft Office 2010
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Mavin Motion says it can improve app engagement by making marketers more timely

 As mobile developers and publishers wrestle with how to keep users engaged with their apps, Mavin Motion co-founder and CEO Shailesh Nalawadi said it’s time for new strategies. Read More
Microsoft Office 2010
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Twitter brings on a new lead for its live video business

 Another new hire for Twitter was announced today, but this one is tied more closely to its big push into live video as part of its efforts to differentiate itself from other platforms. Twitter COO Anthony Noto said today that the company has hired Todd Swidler as its global head of Live Business. Read More
Microsoft Office 2010
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New research shows that UK VC firms are dominated by men

Reshma Sohoni of Seedcamp

  • Research from the new Diversity VC initiative found just 13% of decision makers in UK VC are women
  • 48% of VC firms have no women in their investment teams
  • Investors say the lack of women in VC is a “wake-up call”

When it comes to boosting the number of women in tech, people often focus on how many women take up technical subjects like engineering.

But there’s another area where women are significantly underrepresented, which potentially has a huge impact on the tech ecosystem.

Venture capital plays a major role in making or breaking tech startups — Facebook, Snapchat, Uber, and many others relied on massive funding rounds to become successful companies.

But new data shows that it’s mostly men who are deciding which tech firms should get millions of pounds in funding.

Diversity VC is an initiative to get more women and minorities in venture capital firms. It profiled 1,500 people across 160 VC firms in the UK and found just 13% of venture capital investors in decision-making roles — partner level or equivalent — are women.

Almost half don’t have any women in their investment team at all. And only 18% of investors across all British VC firms are women.

This isn’t entirely because women don’t actually choose VC as a career option. About a quarter of all venture capital employees are women, but clearly not all of them rise to senior positions.

The picture is even worse in the US. Some 45% of VC employees are female, but just 11% of decision makers are women.

Diversity VC cofounder Travis Winstanley set a goal that by 2020, 20% of VCs in decision making positions should be women.

“In no small part, venture capitalists are funding the future,” he said. “Looking at ten of the world’s most valuable companies, six were fuelled by venture capital funding in their early years, so it is clear that the decisions that VCs impact the society in which we live.”

Beezer Clarkson is the managing director of Sapphire Ventures, an LP which invests in early stage funds.

She said in a statement: “[What] I observe is that often I am being pitched by 100% male [general partners].

“This may be the state of venture today, however I firmly believe that a diverse roster of VCs and LPs brings a wider range of perspectives to the table, which would be beneficial to deal sourcing, investment decision making and ultimately to the startups themselves.

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NOW WATCH: LinkedIn’s gorgeous San Francisco offices are unlike anything we’ve ever seen

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Ford's new CEO will have to tell Wall Street a different story (F, TSLA, AAPL, GOOG)

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., May 17, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

If you think investors buy into companies because they make money now and will make money in the future, you’d be wrong when it comes to Ford.

The carmaker posted a record annual profit in 2015 and nearly matched it in 2016. But on Monday, Ford ousted its CEO, Mark Fields, and replaced him with Jim Hackett, a former Steelcase CEO who had been running Ford’s Smart Mobility initiative.

Fields’ resignation came fast: following a fractious annual shareholder meeting, he departed last week — Hackett said he was surprised when Chairman Bill Ford offered the job. Under Fields, Ford shares had declined 40%, despite the epic profits and a booming US sales market.

Hackett will now have to craft a story that Wall Street wants to buy. And make no mistake, that’s what Wall Street is looking for. Tesla has surpassed the market caps of Ford and General Motors, based on prognostications about its future — which likely won’t entail profits, but will certainly involve massive cash expenditures.

If this strikes you as being sort of disturbing, then welcome to the inside-out world of the auto industry. For awhile now, the narrative around Detroit has been that it’s old, slow, and about to watch Silicon Valley eat its lunch.Mark Fields

The auto industry is one of those businesses that’s pretty good when it’s good and mostly not too bad when it isn’t (the financial crisis and the Detroit meltdown was an obvious exception). In the US alone, an automaker can expect to sell something like 15 million-16 million new vehicles every year. When the market booms, as it has for the past three years, that number can get close to 18 million. If you’re selling pickups and SUVs, you can expect to rake in the money, as those vehicles are highly profitable.

Everybody knows how this story ends. But that’s boring. Ford’s stock price isn’t going to go to $50 per share (from its current $11) anytime soon. General Motors’ isn’t going to rocket higher, either, despite CEO Mary Barra’s intense focus on ensuring the GM only occupies markets where it earns significant returns. 

Happy endings?

The Tesla story, the Uber story, the Apple car story, the Google Car story — these narratives don’t yet have endings. In fact, only the Tesla story really has a beginningApple probably isn’t building a car, Google can’t figure out how to make money on self-driving tech, and Uber is spending an enormous amount of money to put Lyft out of business, only to see Lyft grow faster than Uber.

There’s nothing wrong with buying a story, but to a certain extent you’re hoping for a happy ending. If you’d bought the Tesla story in 2010, after the carmaker’s IPO, you’d up 1,500%. But if you’d invested in other electric-car companies back then, you could have lost everything, as they disappeared or went bankrupt.

Meanwhile, you could buy Ford’s present-day story and earn a 5.5% dividend. The narrative isn’t radical. There are no flying cars. It’s been the same for decades. And there aren’t yet any glaring problems with the company. So in that respect, Hackett has some time to recraft the automaker’s message. But he doesn’t have forever. When a downturn arrives, autonomous vehicles and electric cars and big data will take a back seat to a fundamental: Can you sell cars and make money doing it?

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Business Insider.

SEE ALSO: Ford is no longer just a car company

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NOW WATCH: This is what a $400K Ford looks like

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Google is getting ahead of itself in its quest to make the future happen now (GOOG)

google ceo sundar pichai at google i/o 2017

One of the the most unusual demos at Google’s annual I/O conference last week was of a custom-built automatic cocktail maker powered by the company’s artificial intelligence system, Google Assistant.

Event attendees could order up a mango mixer, say, by just talking to the drink dispenser. The machine, which some developers hacked together to show how Google’s AI can be added to just about any gadget, would quickly serve up a cocktail with just the right ingredients drawn from tubes on its top.

You’re already familiar with using Google’s services on your phone or computer. Google wants to be in many more places than those, and it’s planning on using AI to get there.

As Google officials laid out at last week’s conference, the company envisions a future where its AI is inside everything from dish washers to cars. It helps manage your digital photos. And yes, it even could help mix drinks.

The search giant argued this development will be great for consumers. By injecting a little of its smarts into the stuff you use every day, the company will be improving lives.

But the company has other reasons for pursuing its vision. Google and other companies see AI as the next major computing breakthrough after smartphones. The payoff for the company that dominates AI could be huge. (Google doesn’t know how to make money off AI yet, but that’s a problem for another day.)

But the aggressive AI push by Google and its rivals begs the question: Do we really need Google (or Alexa or Siri or whatever else) inside of everything?

I don’t think so.

Nothing we’ve seen from Google or its competitors to date has shown that voice commands and AI are easier or faster to use than smartphone apps, computer programs or web apps. AI may help extend Google and others’ reach beyond phones, but it’ll be a very, very long time before anything comes along that’s capable enough to replace an app-empowered smartphone as your primary computing device.

Unfortunately, a lot of what we’re seeing today with AI and voice control is trying to do just that.

During Google’s keynote, one of the demos showed how Panera Bread built an app on top of Google Assistant that allows a customer to order by just talking to it. The demonstrator claimed it was just like ordering at the counter with another human at the store.

It was an impressive feat for a digital assistant. But you could place an order much easier by just tapping on Panera’s smartphone app or visiting its web site. You shouldn’t have to go through a lengthy verbal back-and-forth with a faceless virtual assistant just to get the Panera sandwich you want.

As tech analyst Ben Thompson put it:

I’ve experienced similar frustrations using voice assistants like Alexa to order an Uber or control smart lights. While they technically work, they’re not easier or faster than just using a smartphone app.

The dubiousness of Google’s vision seems even more clear when it comes to AI being embedded into everyday devices like thermostats, as we saw a few weeks ago when Ecobee announced thermostat with Alexa inside. I can’t think of a single scenario where I’d rather talk to a virtual assistant in my thermostat than just use an app on my smartphone. 

Voice-powered AI can be useful for simple web searches; straightforward queries, like “What’s the weather?”; and basic commands, like “Play the new Katy Perry song. But they’re poorly suited for just about everything else you’d want to do. Apple’s marketing boss Phil Schiller put it pretty well a few weeks ago in an interview with NDTV when he asked about the rise of digital assistants in devices like the Amazon Echo.

“Voice assistants are incredibly powerful, their intelligence is going to grow, they’re gonna do more for us, but the role of the screen is gonna remain very important to all of this,” he said.

In other words, if your goal is to kill the screen, you’ve blown it.google i/o 2017 sundar pichai AI first

All of the major tech companies are investing in AI in the belief that it will replace the smartphone as the dominant platform in tech. What none of them seem to realize is that AI won’t replace the smartphone but improve it. It won’t kill the category; it’ll just make it more useful.

Google is the company perhaps least in touch with this reality. At its event last week, it went so far as to claim it’s shifting from a “mobile first” company to an “AI first” one. As exciting as Google’s (and Amazon’s and Microsoft’s and Apple’s) advancements in AI have been, they still don’t come close to its ambition.  

The truth is we’re going to be stuck with smartphones for a very long time — think decades, not years. And while a Google Assistant-powered cocktail mixer makes for a cool demonstration, it goes to show that voice-powered AI these days is more entertaining than practical.

SEE ALSO: How Google’s band of hardware pirates has re-invented itself after its legendary leader jumped ship

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NOW WATCH: Google just showed off an incredible camera app that identifies real-world objects

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Windows 10 Tip: Watch a video while using another app with mini view

Did you know that, with the new mini view feature in the Windows 10 Creators Update, you can now keep an ever-present small window on top of what you’re doing?

With the Windows 10 Creators Update, watch a video while using another app with mini view

This means you can do things like watch your favorite show, carry on a Skype conversation or control your music, regardless of what else you’re working on. Go ahead, have your movies keep you company while you’re cranking through the PowerPoint presentation.

Here’s how it works:

Launch the Movies & TV app and click a movie, trailer, or TV show to start playing it. Click the “Play in mini view” button in the bottom right-hand corner, and the “Leave mini view” button when you want to exit.

The mini view will stay on top of any other windows you have open. You can click and drag to move it around your screen, or click a corner and drag to resize the window.

Have a great week!

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Earn more money by moving to the latest advertising libraries

Make sure your apps are updated to use the latest versions of the Microsoft Advertising SDK.

The latest advertising SDK versions, which are MRAID 1.0 compliant, support richer creatives experiences. These SDK versions can also send user signals such as advertiser ID, age, gender, geo and other behavioral signals to advertisers (subject to user’s privacy preferences). This enables advertisers to identify the same user across different apps and websites, and as a result can target them better.

Advertisers today seek these capabilities and are willing to spend more money on ad inventory that supports them, so this will translate into higher revenue for you.

The latest Advertising SDK versions for UWP apps also support new ad formats like Interstitial Banner, Native Ads and Playable Ads, which deliver higher eCPMs and can drive up your revenue even further!

Also, Microsoft recently removed support for older advertising SDK releases that do not support a minimum set of capabilities, including the ability to serve HTML5 rich media via the Mobile Rich-media Ad Interface Definitions (MRAID) 1.0 specification from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB).

For more information on how to upgrade your apps to the latest advertising libraries, please refer to this article.

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Quora tests video answers to steal Q&A from YouTube

 Newly-minted unicorn Quora has even bigger ambitions than text questions-and-answers. And it’s not going to let video giants or startups disrupt its future. This week Quora began testing video answers, because sometimes it’s a lot easier to show someone how something works, the best way to complete a task, or why one thing is better than another than try to write it out for them.… Read More

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Instagram Location Stories appear in Explore. Is Story Search Coming?

 It’s taking Instagram less and less time to copy Snapchat. Less than two months after Snapchat launched its Stories Search feature for seeing what’s going on at a location or related to a topic, Instagram is rolling out Location Stories to its Explore page. Last week, TechCrunch broke the news that Instagram was testing Location Stories, which aggregate the publicly posted… Read More

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