Reverse Engineering a Startup

Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus by Douglas Rushkoff

The following story of “Ruby” reverse engineering a startup based on market conditions, industry trends, and nascent investor fads is taken from Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus by Douglas Rushkoff.
One of the smartest technologists I know, a young woman from the West Coast I’ll call Ruby, decided to launch a company on a whim. Ruby did exhaustive research on emerging interests and keywords in the technology and business press, as well as conference topics and TED subjects. What were venture capitalists getting interested in? Moreover, what sorts of technical skills would be valuable to those industries? For instance, if she concluded that big data was in ascendance, then she would not only launch a startup related to big data but also make sure she created competencies that big data firms required, such as data visualization or factor analysis. This way, even if her company’s primary offering failed, it would still be valuable as an acquisition—for either its skills or its talent, which would be in high demand if her bet on the growing sector proved correct.
She ultimately chose geolocation services as the growing field. She assembled teams to build a few apps that depended on geolocation—less because the apps themselves were terrific (though she wouldn’t complain if one became a hit) than because of the capabilities those apps could offer to potential acquirers. Working on them also forced her team to develop marketable competencies as well as a handful of patentable solutions in a growing field with many problems to solve. The company was purchased, for a whole lot, by a much larger technology player looking to incorporate geolocation into its software and platforms. The employees, founder, and inventors who believed in her are now all wealthy people.
E-commerce using Elasticsearch
And Machine Learing
Last night, I attended an Elastic meetup hosted by HBC Digital. The Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) owns Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor. This meetup provided one of those “aha” moments. It is possible to build a local search engine using elasticsearch. This search engine would incorporate e-commerce and machine learning.

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Northeast STEM Starter Academy

The mission of Northeast STEM Starter Academy (NSSA) is to introduce the marvels of technology and science (STEM) to underserved children through a cutting-edge informal educational center.

Based on recent events, NSSA considers themselves one step closer to realizing a building that will allow them to host a science and technology center enabling the engagement of all 9000 students in the Mount Vernon Public School System twice each school year. The three-hour educational tour for every student in every school of the planned facility will provide access and exposure to state-of-the-art interactive displays and exhibits, science and technology labs, tech-theater, classrooms and many other exciting elements that can change the lives of youngsters eager to learn and pursue careers within the STEM field. While the initial tour of the facility will get their attention, a collection of after-school, weekend and summer learning programs will be available to empower them to see and realize their future as doctors, scientist, engineers, technologists and astronauts.
NSSA has received support from the local school district. Dr. Kenneth Hamilton took over the Mount Vernon city school district as superintendent in August 2014, and some of the first conversations he had with colleagues were about expanding students’ access to STEM.

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Sadat X and Will Tell are Serious about Wine

Sadat X and Will Tell

Sadat X and Will Tell at Apricots & Honey Wine and Spirits in Mount Vernon, NY

I caught a Facebook post about Hip Hop God Sadat X and legendary Hip Hop producer Will Tell being at Apricots & Honey Wine and Spirits for a wine tasting. I thought it might be interesting since I never seen a wine label quite like this before. Both their red and white wines turned out to be very good, but the story behind the wine turned out to be far more fascinating.

True Wine Connoisseurs

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Mount Vernon Magazine: Digital Ads Suck & Google is an Old Business

The new model of advertising and branding demands that companies improve public life and satisfy the needs of our higher sacred selves.

Mount Vernon Magazine

Click the image above for a rough draft of Mount Vernon Magazine.

ChartOfTheDay_709_Google_s_ad_revenue_since_2004_n
Ad Spending

Google has more revenue than all U.S. print newspapers and magazines combined.
Yet direct mail is still the biggest single direct marketing channel, worth around $45 billion a year in the US alone. But it’s increasingly clear that printed marketing communications work best when used in conjunction with digital channels such as email, personalized web pages (PURLs), database marketing, and mobile elements.

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Fake News & Rethinking Digital Capitalism

Seven Magazine

Click the image above for
A rough draft of Seven Magazine.
Just as climate change is the natural byproduct of fossil capitalism, so is fake news the byproduct of digital capitalism.

market-cap

As described in Steve Denning’s Forbes article, “Roger Martin: How ‘The Talent’ Turned Into Vampires:”
How did America—a country dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal—become one of the most unequal countries on the planet? Why do the nation’s leaders now spend so much of their time feeding at the trough and getting ever more for themselves? Why has public-mindedness in our leaders given way in so many instances to limitless greed?
These questions are being raised, not in some anti-capitalist rag from the extreme Left, but in the staid pro-business pages of the Harvard Business Review, in a seminal article by Roger Martin, the former dean of the Rotman School of Business and the academic director of the Martin Prosperity Institute: “The Rise and (Likely) Fall of the Talent Economy.
One key factor, argues Martin, is a fundamental shift in nature of the economy. Fifty years ago, “72% of the top 50 U.S. companies by market capitalization still owed their positions to the control and exploitation of natural resources.” But in the latter part of the 20th century, a new kind of organization began to emerge: an organization that prospered not by natural resources but through “the control and exploitation of human talent.”
We need to build a world where Facebook and Google neither wield much clout nor monopolise problem-solving.

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Seven Magazine: Digital Ads Suck & Google is an Old Business

The new model of advertising and branding demands that companies improve public life and satisfy the needs of our higher sacred selves.

Seven Magazine

Click the image above for
A rough draft of Seven Magazine.

ChartOfTheDay_709_Google_s_ad_revenue_since_2004_n
Ad Spending

Google has more revenue than all U.S. print newspapers and magazines combined.
Yet direct mail is still the biggest single direct marketing channel, worth around $45 billion a year in the US alone. But it’s increasingly clear that printed marketing communications work best when used in conjunction with digital channels such as email, personalized web pages (PURLs), database marketing, and mobile elements.

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Local Empowerment is the Key to Dealing with Trump

How did America—a country dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal—become one of the most unequal countries on the planet?
Results of the 2016 presidential election by county.

Results of the 2016 presidential election by county. (Source: Flickr)

In the modern era of presidential politics, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by a bigger margin than any other candidate that lost the electoral college. Donald Trump won the presidency by 74 electoral votes while losing the nationwide vote to Clinton by 2.6 million votes and counting.
But there’s another divide exposed by the election, which researchers at the Brookings Institution recently discovered as they sifted the election returns. It has no bearing on the election outcome, but it tells us something important about the state of the country and its politics moving forward.

Donald Trump - Time Person of the Year

The divide is economic, and it is massive. According to the Brookings analysis, the less-than-500 counties that Clinton won nationwide combined to generate 64 percent of America’s economic activity in 2015. The more-than-2,600 counties that Trump won combined to generate 36 percent of the country’s economic activity last year.
Clinton, in other words, carried nearly two-thirds of the American economy.

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