Category Archives: Uncategorized

So that’s what happened to the Synthetic Genomics, Exxon algae fuel deal

Gigaom

One of the most exciting announcements back in the Summer of 2009 for the biofuel folks, was the much-discussed potentially $600 million deal between upstart startup Synthetic Genomics, led by genome guru Craig Venter, and oil giant Exxon to make algae fuel at commercial scale. While that partnership seemed to strain a bit in late 2011, I’ve never been quite clear on what actually happened to the plans.

But in a detailed Bloomberg article on Chevron’s move away from biofuels, Venter and Synthetic Genomics have finally confirmed that the Exxon-funded research didn’t produce the desired results and was subsequently down graded. The article says that in late 2011 an algae strain that proved promising in the testing greenhouse, didn’t hit its performance milestones in an Exxon pond in Texas.

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As a result, Bloomberg says that Exxon changed the contract to focus on long term research instead of commercial…

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Tips from the trenches: 5 lessons for health tech entrepreneurs

Gigaom

Entrepreneurs in any industry need to start with a big idea – and a big tolerance for risk. But in health care, startups often need to take on a unique set of regulatory hurdles, complex systems and entrenched ways of getting things done to successfully build and scale.

At the TEDMED conference Thursday, a few of the industry’s most seasoned entrepreneurs and investors gave emerging startups a dose of advice. Here are a few of their tips:

1. Let your experience inspire, but don’t just build for yourself.

Several of the most interesting startups I’ve encountered were started by people who had their own collision with the health care system or were deeply affected by the experiences of people close to them.  But while personal experiences can inspire powerful solutions, Nina Nashif, founder and CEO of the Chicago-based health startup accelerator HealthBox, advised startups to make sure that they…

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Gratitude: Vessels

Norleen Nosri Opens her first unique Exhibit

Norleen Nosri’s new exhibit “Gratitude: Vessels” has just gone up on display inside the Mizzou Art Department gallery. Her piece, which features correlating ceramic parts and “vessels” comprised of teapots and various teacups labeled as: Generations I, Generations II, Family II and III, and so on, plays with interesting notions about family, and of course, gratitude. One student, Jessica Bremhr, said, “Her use of space and placement with the correlating pieces is really intriguing.” Nosri is set to deliver a lecture on the 18th about her exhibit.

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Premium, First, Playground

This week, I’m having a little trouble coming up with a topic I think is really quality when thinking about the best way to run a successful marketing/advertising/public relations firm. So I want to cover a few small topics quickly; sort of like a review.

1. Be Premium

A lot of people, when starting their own business, try to sell as much of their service or product as quickly as possible, meaning that their main concern is revenue. This is not, I repeat, not the right idea. As a start up agency, you shouldn’t try to compete with other well established firms by lowering your price for your service. You need to establish your product as the PREMIUM product. Don’t go to customers and say, “we can offer you what (insert competitors name here) can offer you for less.” I promise, no one wants to hear that. Instead, walk into that client meeting and say, “Listen, we will offer you the best service, results, and anything you else you can think of, we’ll give you the best of it.” Remember, you are a start up, probably with a small team of creatives, technologists, and developers, so you can’t handle as many clients as your competitors, but, you can guarantee them a much more driven and personal service. Further, you shouldn’t be afraid to charge a premium price for this premium service, just deliver the results you promised. Trust me on this one.

2. Be First

This is a key factor, especially for firms that are on the start up. the CMO’s and CEO and Chief Creative Officers need to up to date on the most popular and successful trends in the marketing field. Yes, right now, social media websites are driving sales and customer participation for marketing firms around the world. However, a truly driven CMO and Chief Marketing Strategist will already be looking ahead, you need to be thinking about what the next hit in the marketing industry will be. They need to be thinking about what the most effective content is, how to portray their clients in the right light, to the right people, through the right mediums, at the right time. Further, as a small firm, the most important thing, is that you know how to do that first.

3. Don’t Let Anyone Else’s Kid Bully Yours on the Playground

This tip might seem like it’s coming out of nowhere, to be honest, I didn’t really realize I was thinking it until it appeared on my screen. However, this might be one of the most important messages I ever deliver to young firms and young entrepreneurs. Heres why: the business world is not a nice place. You should not play nice. Everyday another firm is trying to take whatever clients you have as their own, everyday a competitor is thinking of ways to be better than your firm, everyday new competitors are emerging, and trust me, not one of them are thinking about your feelings. I like to think of the business world as a battlefield, everyday you meet with your team, and come up with the strategy to outsmart your enemies. In war, strategies mean coming up with where to put your tanks, where to send the calvary, when to use special ops, and when to bring the full army. In the meeting room, strategizing means coming up with the best ideas and pitches to deliver to clients, who you need to be meeting with, when you need to be meeting them, deciding what conferences to attend, deciding how to tell your client you have the best ideas for them, and figuring out how to convince them why they need to be working with you instead of them.  You should be approaching these tasks with a warriors mentality, this firm is your livelihood, your dream, your baby. Protect it, feed it, let it grow, and don’t let anyone else’s kid bully yours on the play ground.

 

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My impressions of Facebook’s news feed redesign & what it means

Gigaom

My skepticism about Facebook (s fb) is pretty well known. I have found them to be a company that plays loose and easy with people and makes decisions that are not always in their users’ best interest. So yesterday when they announced the news feed redesign, I was a little bemused. My initial reaction: while Google is trying to make the physical world searchable, Facebook is adding a “category menu” to its feed.

Then a friend emailed and said that I was being too harsh because they are, after all, catering to a billion people, are a publicly traded company and are under attack from all sides by more nimble, smarter startups that are taking attention away from them. Fair enough: I decided that I would give them a fair shake whenever I got access to the redesigned news feed.

Facebook News Feed Redesign March 2013

Given the planet-long wait list, I didn’t sign up…

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James Franco Honored With Star On The Hollywood Walk Of Fame

CBS San Francisco

 

HOLLYWOOD (CBS NEWS) – With friend Seth Rogen by his side, actor and Palo Alto-native, James Franco received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Thursday.

For the one-time Oscars host, Franco, it was a dream come true.

“When I got to L.A., I’d come here and see the stars and it just seemed like it was something that was part of the city and you would never crack that, it was part of Hollywood history,” he told the crowd at the unveiling, “It’ still baffling that my name will be there.”

PHOTOS:James Franco Honored With Walk of Fame Star

Franco, 34, got his start in 1999 with the Judd Apatow-produced TV series “Freaks and Geeks” (also starring Rogen) before branching out to film roles in movies such as “Milk,” “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” and the first “Spider-Man” trilogy. In 2011, he…

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Emerging technologies are creating new ethical challenges for UX designers

Gigaom

New technologies have always produced unintended consequences. But user experience (UX) designers and engineers face a number of new ethical challenges today with the rise of technology and our interaction and dependence on it.

UX designers’ primary job is to improve usability and extend productivity. But they also have a responsibility to address the unintended consequences of new technologies, some of them with a clear ethical dimension. Following is a look at some of the principle ethical quandaries that UX designers will run up against and must deal with responsibly.

Human costs and de-valuing work

So much of the UX discipline’s early efforts were driven by the desire to improve human performance and productivity while reducing errors. Few questioned the value of these gains, achieved by optimizing system design, augmenting human ability, and automation, especially as it eliminated dangerous, repetitive, or tedious work – think of assembly line factory jobs that in…

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The internet of weird things at SXSW: smart porta potties, light books and a robot zen gardener

Gigaom

Sometimes the internet of things is just there to mess with you. At the official opening night party for the SXSW Interactive Festival on Friday, design firm Frog Design created a party space where objects embedded with computing and wireless networks made party-goers think, laugh, and maybe even feel a little uncomfortable.

Frog, which has hosted the kick-off party for many years, called the series of interactive displays “The Other Singularity,” and Frog Principal Technologist Jared Ficklin said they were meant to show tech in “unexpected places.” Ficklin said Frog was expecting between 4,000 and 7,000 people to pass through the party and play with the displays.

Augmented Reality Porta Potty

Frog Design

After you enter the porta potty, a video display is projected onto the door and it can show whether you’re standing or sitting and how long you’ve been in the biffy. While the installation wasn’t working for part of the…

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Wi-Fi offers huge opportunities, but here’s how companies could blow it

Gigaom

My humble wish is this: That in the industry’s collective rush to monetize the blossoming Wi-Fi marketplace, we don’t hobble it before it hits its stride. Because let’s face it, we could botch it so, so easily.

Up until fairly recently, Wi-Fi was about in-home PC connectivity. But a few factors – the popularity of smartphones, the advent of tablets, overburdened cellular networks, among others – have come together to make Wi-Fi ubiquitous and its use in public settings commonplace.

And the trend is only strengthening; In-Stat says that 800 million smartphones alone will ship in 2013 (and a few billion Wi-Fi equipped devices), and Cisco’s 2013 Global Mobile VNI report found that mobile offload will increase from 33 percent (429 petabytes/month) of mobile data traffic in 2012 to 46 percent (9.6 exabytes/month) in 2017.

In our exuberance to monetize the Wi-Fi industry, here are the three big ways where network operators or owners of service provider Wi-Fi deployments can mess…

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