This Gillmor Gang was recorded live at betaday, the betaworks annual gathering in New York. The Gillmor Gang included John Borthwick, Robert Scoble, Douglas Rushkoff, Paul Davison, and Steve Gillmor. Enjoy.
@stevegillmor, @Borthwick, @scobleizer, @rushkoff, @pdavison
The Gillmor Gang is produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor
- JOHN BORTHWICK
- ROBERT SCOBLE
- DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF
- PAUL DAVISON
- STEVE GILLMOR
John Borthwick is CEO of betaworks. betaworks is a technology company that operates as a studio. betaworks builds new products, runs companies and seed invests.
Prior to betaworks John was Senior Vice President of Alliances and Technology Strategy for Time Warner Inc. John’s company, WP-Studio, founded in 1994, was one of the first content studios in New York’s Silicon Alley. John holds an MBA from Wharton (1994) and an undergraduate degree BA…
Robert Scoble is an American blogger, technical evangelist, and author. He is best known for his popular blog, Scobleizer, which came to prominence during his tenure as a technical evangelist at Microsoft.
Scoble joined Microsoft in 2003, and although he often promoted Microsoft products like Tablet PCs and Windows Vista, he also frequently criticized his own employer and praised its competitors like Apple and Google.
Scoble is the author of Naked Conversations, a book on how blogs are changing…
Winner of the Media Ecology Association’s first Neil Postman award for Career Achievement in Public Intellectual Activity, Douglas Rushkoff is an author, teacher, and documentarian who focuses on the ways people, cultures, and institutions create, share, and influence each other’s values. He is technology and media commentator for CNN, and has taught and lectured around the world about media, technology, culture and economics.
He has written and hosted three award-winning PBS Frontline documentaries – The Merchants of Cool looked at…
Paul Davison is the founder of Highlight.
Davison is a San Diego native who graduated from Stanford and then earned his MBA from Stanford Business School. He had an internship at Google between degrees.
Davison worked at consulting firm Bain and Co. before joining database startup Metaweb, which was acquired by Google in 2010.
Previously he was an entrepreneur in residence at Benchmark Capital.
Steve Gillmor is a technology commentator, editor, and producer in the enterprise technology space. He is Head of Technical Media Strategy at salesforce.com and a TechCrunch contributing editor.
Gillmor previously worked with leading musical artists including Paul Butterfield, David Sanborn, and members of The Band after an early career as a record producer and filmmaker with Columbia Records’ Firesign Theatre. As personal computers emerged in video and music production tools, Gillmor started contributing to various publications, most notably Byte Magazine,…
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Because of Google I/O, this was a momentous week for those of us who are watching the rapid transition that is taking place from desktop computing to mobile, and particularly for those focused on mobile-social as I am because of my job at just.me. Here is my take on what we just witnessed.
Standalone Hangouts. Google announced at its I/O event that Hangouts was to be launched as a separate app from Google Plus, taking personal conversations out from the G+ app and putting them into their own space.
Facebook Home problems. ATT was reported to have decided to discontinue distribution of the HTC First – the Facebook Home Android phone – due to lack of sales. This comes on the back of publicity pointing to a large number of one-star reviews for the software on the Google Play store.
What is at stake?
There are many common themes and questions that underpin the launch and evolution of Hangouts as a separate app and previously led to the decision to launch the Facebook Home product. These products represent two very similar answers to a common question. The primary question is who will users look to to enable their social communications needs on mobile devices?
To set the context for an analysis let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room that is partially driving these decisions.
Mobile Messaging is rapidly becoming the primary way users engage socially on mobile. Figures released this week imply more than 41 billion messages a day are now being delivered via various “Over the Top” (OTT) messaging apps.
Phones were created as social tools. Smartphones are especially good at being social, integrating text, voice, video and images in an endless number of apps that can serve a user’s needs, and all without the need for a web-based social network.
Users are able to communicate with anybody in their address book anywhere in the world with almost any content mix at any time. This has been compelling to users and has driven the growth of apps like iMessage, WhatsApp, LINE, WeChat, KakaoTalk and some other smaller competitors. Almost 750 million users out of a smartphone population of 1.2 billion are already using these apps.
If you are Google, Facebook or almost any other major provider of social communications platforms originally developed for the web, this move to mobile messaging represents a considerable challenge.
Similar challenges exist from media-sharing apps. As users flock to Vine, Snapchat and, previously, Instagram, the social platforms are challenged to continue to be the primary provider of these services to the growing army of smartphone users.
The other core feature of Facebook and Google+, publishing to an audience for all or many to see, are increasingly becoming activities only a few engage in on mobile — and certainly less often than was the case on the web.
What Is A Platform Provider To Do?
If we look out a few years there is really only one product approach available.
That is to build single apps that embrace and extend the current features of the messaging market leaders — hoping to win users over from WhatsApp, LINE, KakaoTalk and WeChat — while also integrating the features of media sharing, private memory collection and publishing into single unified experiences.
Google and Facebook both seem to be pursuing this approach.
Breaking out Hangouts and going after the messaging audience with enhanced features makes sense. But Google also showed Google Now and Voice Search as possible points of integration for all of its mobile-social features. It’s early days here, but Android clearly wants to find a point of integration for all the users’ needs.
Facebook, with Home, revealed its integrated approach, while under the hood it has Messenger, Camera, Pages and the full Facebook app. Poor as Home’s reception has been, Facebook will certainly continue to deepen and refine its integration efforts and its attempt to be the primary UI a user needs on a smartphone.
Vulnerabilities And Strengths Of Mobile-First Companies
WhatsApp and its clones can be thought of as mobile-first companies. Their apps sit on top of the smartphone, particularly the mobile address book, and just help a user chat to their friends, family or colleagues. Their success is their simplicity and the singular purpose they have addressed.
Insofar as they are vulnerable, it is due to being very narrowly focused on brief “in the moment” conversations in the form of a chat or instant messaging UI. They have added the ability to include media in those conversations, and some voice-calling abilities. But their goal is really momentary interactions with individuals or groups. Their requirement to have both sides of the conversation install the app is another liability.
Human beings have broader needs that are currently served by other single-use apps. Evernote for private memories, email for longer more enduring interactions, social networks like Facebook, Google+ and Twitter for public statements of all kinds and Path or Instagram for photo sharing. This is a little like the era of Windows before Outlook when apps tended to do only one thing and users used many apps.
Can Web Companies Beat Mobile-First Companies?
These recent moves by Facebook and Google represent early moves by the web-era companies to react to the successes of the mobile-first messengers. They certainly do not represent end points in any way, impressive as they are. And there is plenty of time for the mobile messaging apps to respond by offering a broader range of social features.
There are already clues to the future – provided by users. The continuing use of email on mobile (trillions of messages in 2013) indicates that users are not entirely catered for by the chat-centric conversational UI. The growth of Vine and Snapchat (single-feature based as they are) indicate not all media-sharing needs are catered for by these apps. There is a lot still to play for.
If we look five years out, it is likely that the iOS and Android core will support a far more integrated set of messaging tools that cater for many of the needs we use single-use apps for today.
Message saving for private use, shared messaging to individuals or groups, media sharing, video and voice messaging (both synchronous and asynchronous), Timelines to look back and recall what we did in the past. These will all be features of the operating system.
As mobile moves from its Windows 3.1 — single-use apps — era to its more integrated future, apps that used to stand alone will have their features sucked into the operating system. Google and Apple have an advantage here of course as they own the operating system.
The Future Is Being Fought Over Now
In that sense the current product focus – decisions about what features to separate into single apps, and how to integrate those into a unified UI all represent the first moves in defining who wins.
Facebook has Messenger, Camera, Pages and its primary app with Home as an integration point.
Google has Talk, Contacts, Mail, Plus, Hangouts perhaps with Now as a point of integration.
Apple is a little behind but has iMessage, FaceTime, Photostream, Mail and Contacts. iOS itself may be the point of integration.
WhatsApp, LINE, KakaoTalk, WeChat and the others will need to move beyond the chat-centric user interface into a broader set of asynchronous messaging features, and a new set of social features, probably with Timeline support, in order to stay ahead of the curve.
The End Of Social Networks And The Start Of A New Era?
The ground has been set for a fascinating next few years as the web-based social platforms seek to own mobile-social messaging and the mobile messaging apps seek to extend into more fully integrated social features.
As of this moment the mobile-first apps have the lead measured by number of users and levels of engagement. To keep it they will need to continue to innovate.
The human race is already social, and the smartphone has everything needed to enable them to act on their social needs. As the growth of OTT messaging and media sharing shows, a user’s social needs are being met with no need for a social network.
In this mobile-social world the only question is, whose software will we all use to enable human social activities? That is what this week was all about.
Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/OD5QpDrxKhE/
Editor’s note: Richard Bennett is a Senior Fellow with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation and co-author of ITIF’s 2013 report, “The Whole Picture: Where America’s Broadband Networks Really Stand.” Follow him on Twitter @iPolicy.
We’ve all heard the story: America’s broadband networks are second-rate. We pay exorbitant prices for shoddy service because broadband providers print money and hold innovation in a death grip. While America languishes, our competitors in Europe and Asia are racing ahead to a user-generated content utopia. The only way forward is a government takeover, or, failing that, a massive dose of regulation.
So go a number of recent treatises such as Susan Crawford’s “Captive Audience”; works by like-minded Internet aficionados Tim Wu, Lawrence Lessig, and Yochai Benkler; reports by public interest advocacy groups Free Press, Public Knowledge, and the Open Technology Institute; as well as numerous tech bloggers.
The only problem with this story is that it’s almost completely untrue.
Granted, as recently as the late aughts, the story was plausible: In those dark days, our rankings in terms of both broadband subscription growth and speeds were falling. Increased demand for data capacity and a technology lull combined to push our average Internet connection speed down to 22nd in the world at the end of 2009, according to Akamai’s measurement of “Average Connection Speed.” Since then, the speeds of such shared connections have nearly doubled from 3.9Mbps to 7.2 Mbps, raising the U.S. to eighth place.
Akamai’s Average Connection Speed measures individual TCP streams over IP addresses that are often shared — and doesn’t sum simultaneous streams — so it’s more a measure of usage than of network capacity, however. To see the capacity of the underlying broadband network, it’s best to look at Akamai’s “Average Peak Connection Speed” metric.
The distinction between these two metrics flummoxed Ars Technica’s Cyrus Farivar, who maintains that the shared-connection measurement is the more meaningful indication of “user experience.” Farivar is clearly wrong about that, and Akamai’s “Average Peak Connection Speed” is the better indicator of network improvement.
The Average Peak measurement shows performance in the U.S. tripling over the past five years, up to 31.5Mbps in Q4 2012. We don’t know where the U.S. ranked on this scale before mid-2010, but it’s currently 13th. The tripling of network capacity combined with a doubling of “shared speed” says that networks are getting faster, as the U.S. is simultaneously using them more heavily
America’s broadband speeds are improving for two reasons: first, broadband providers have installed newer technologies, such as Verizon FiOS, DOCSIS 3 cable modems, and ATT U-verse that are four or more times faster than the technologies they replaced; and second, users have begun to demonstrate a preference for higher-speed broadband by opting into higher-speed upgrades. Some upgrades are costly and others are not; Comcast recently doubled the speeds of most of their Bay Area broadband plans for free.
While our networks are improving, we’re retaining low prices for entry-level broadband plans first noticed by the Berkman Center’s “Next Generation Connectivity” report: the U.S. is currently second in the price of broadband for entry-level users. The nation is also third in network-based competition, second in the fiber-optic installation rate, first in the adoption of next-generation LTE, ahead of Europe in broadband adoption, and doing quite well in Internet-based services.
While U.S. cable TV companies still lead telcos in new broadband subscriptions, fiber-based telco broadband is gaining subscribers at a faster rate than cable. U.S. broadband providers are profitable, but much less so than Europe’s or Korea’s, where applications like YouTube must pay ISPs for access to residential customers. Significantly, we’ve gained ground on competitors despite an enormous disadvantage stemming from America’s very low urban population densities, which make U.S. broadband networks much more expensive to build and maintain than those in most nations.
Amazingly, the European Commission’s top telecom regulator, Vice President Neelie Kroes, tells a story much like the tales of woe we hear from American broadband critics, but with the roles reversed: Kroes laments Europe’s declining standing relative to the U. S., where “high-speed networks now pass more than 80 percent of homes; a figure that quadrupled in three years.” To facilitate private investment in networks, Europe has developed a “Ten Step Plan” for a single, cross-border market for broadband that mimics our interstate, facilities-based broadband market.
But these facts are glossed over by the critics of U.S. broadband policy in large part because they directly contradict their neo-populist narrative of rapacious, profit-hungry broadband monopolists gouging consumers. The long tradition of American populism distrusts private provision of “essential” services and refuses to believe that competition can ever be brought to bear on infrastructure markets. Crawford in particular relies too heavily on a strained analogy with electricity, a genuine natural monopoly that is as different from the competing information networks we have in the broadband space as any network can possibly be: Can you get electric service over the air?
Critics also come up short on research, generally refusing to consult updated primary sources in favor of blog posts and news articles from inside the echo chamber that simply reinforce the traditional narrative. “Confirmation bias” is rampant in broadband criticism.
Broadband advocates would do better to focus their efforts on real problems, such as our dismally low level of interest in the Internet, the primary reason non-subscribers give for refusing to go online. Ideally, these efforts would be combined with initiatives to increase computer ownership among the poor — the second reason so few Americans use the Internet. The world’s high-subscription nations, such as Korea and Singapore, aren’t the price leaders for entry-level Internet services as we are, but they’ve led successful outreach efforts to spread computer ownership, digital literacy, and Internet awareness across their entire populations.
Getting all of America online is a goal that all Americans can support regardless of party creed or ideological doctrine. If we can make as much progress with online participation as we’ve made with speed, Europe will have a second Internet crisis on its hands.
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Mark Suster of Los Angeles’ GRP Partners is known for his unique insights on the tech and digital media worlds, having famously had success on “both sides of the table” as a repeat entrepreneur turned investor over nearly two decades in the industry. And he hit headlines several times this past week, with his viewpoints on acqui-hires (he says they’re often very bad) and founders stepping down from the CEO role such as what happened with GRP portfolio startup Awe.sm (he says sometimes, it’s the best thing that can happen.)
So when we heard that Suster was in San Francisco for a couple of days, we asked him to come by TechCrunch TV to talk a bit more at length about all that’s been going on. And while he warned us that he was a bit tired due to a late night visiting with industry folks here in the Bay Area the evening before we met, he was just as engaging as ever, talking about the topics mentioned above as well as the latest hot stuff coming out of the Southern California tech scene.
Check it all out in the video embedded above.
- MARK SUSTER
Mark joined GRP Partners in 2007 after having worked with GRP for nearly 8 years as a two-time entrepreneur. Most recently Mark was Vice President, Product Management at Salesforce.com (NASDAQ: CRM) following its acquisition of Koral,where Mark was Founder and CEO. Prior to Koral, Mark was Founder and CEO of BuildOnline, the largest independent global content collaboration company focused on the engineering and construction sectors, which was acquired by SWORD Group (PARIS: SWP). Earlier in his career, Mark spent…
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Editor’s note: Ross Rubin is principal analyst at Reticle Research and blogs at Techspressive. Each column looks at crowdfunded products that have either met or missed their funding goals. Follow him on Twitter @rossrubin.
An ancient and once-sacred bond between author and audience, reading and writing have become but two more tasks along with a multitude of other things that we do on a host of digital devices — watcing videos, listening to music, playing games, and really anything except using Facebook Home. Still, there are some for whom the intimate act of interface between pen and paper retains more magic than all the electrons powering all the devices in the world have not been able to recreate. For them, a trio of European crowdfunding projects have trotted out a range of products to improve both endpoints of analog document creation.
Whacked: LazyPete. Arrgh! Listen up, ye scurvy dogs, as I tell ye the legend of Lazy Pete, a pirate so wrapped up in his romance novels that he didn’t see a great white shark leap from the ocean to leave him with just one hand. ‘Tis in Lazy Pete’s honor that Philip Musche surely named his one-handed book reading contraption, which essentially puts one of those book stands that keep pages open on a beefy handle. Despite showing off the reading aid in nearly enough colors to cover the Seven Seas, Musche failed to capture enough crowdfunding booty, and the campaign ended with only £533 of the desired £30,000 treasure.
Backed: Idae. What the GoPro is to most digital cameras, Idae is to most pocket journals, even the durable Field Notes. The waterproof, tear-resistant notebook is just the thing for when you need to make that critical addition to your grocery shopping list in the middle of your next scuba dive, and a perfect match for your Fisher Space Pen. And if you needed any more proof of just how extreme it is, it has a hole for a carabiner.
That said, fire will consume it along with the haiku you were inspired to write on the slopes. And if you’re not planning to keep your notes around indefinitely, the notebook can be recycled. Developed in Milan and shipped to backers last month for between $20 and $30 depending on cover color, the 32-page thought preserver cleared its $7,200 funding goal with a couple of hundred dollars to spare, but you’d expect that kind of nail-biting excitement from such a tough guy.
Backed: Meteor Grip. The pencil has been thin enough to serve as a benchmark against which to compare high-tech electronics. While it’s comfortable for many, at least for short periods, it can be difficult to grasp for some. Receiving inspiration when his partner Zoë, a tattoo artist, began suffering hand pain in December 2011, Pontefract, UK-based Jai Dickerson Pierce developed the Meteor Grip. Few details are provided about what material is used to create the grip. Rather, the key to its uniqueness is being available in both right and left-handed versions. As the campaign page employs double negatives to claim, “No other manufacturer produces an ergonomic hand grip that is not ambidextrous.”
That said, the campaign is not above covering a spectrum of uses, claiming that the product is useful as a novelty gift while also proclaiming that it is “changing the writing experience forever.” Not yet changed for kiddies, though, as a potential meteorite grip is for now on the drawing board. With a bit over three weeks left to go, the Meteor Grip has collected about a quarter of its humble £875 goal. Seven pounds will marry your love of astronomy with hatred of thin writing tools, and ten pounds can get one for you as well as the cramping tattoo artist in your life as soon as this month.
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As the Tumblr/Yahoo deal continues to be negotiated by press, and the world gears up for whatever is being announced Monday morning, Tumblr founder David Karp is probably having a very interesting weekend. It’s likely, in between multiple discussions with his board members and Marissa Mayer, that he’ll take a break, like a walk or something, to gather his thoughts.
On this walk (or jog or glass of wine at a bar), he will likely mull over two main outcomes. He could take Yahoo’s money, whether it be the $1.1 billion that the board is trying to approve giving him, or the more that he negotiates. Or, well, not.
If he took Yahoo’s money, he would join the Billion Dollar Exit Club — you know, the ranks of Kevin Systrom, Chad Hurley and Steven Chen from YouTube, the PayPal mafia, Tony Hseih, James Clark, Marc Andreessen, etc. He would be considered “successful” by the Valley’s ridiculous standards and everyone else’s, but not Zuckerberg successful, but definitely Michael Birch successful. Maybe he’d buy a nice house in Presidio Heights for when he has to be on the West Coast, and fill it with art and an apartment in Chelsea? [And maybe a vacation home for his family. And maybe a plane.]
He’d still oversee the Tumblr product at Yahoo, at least until his lockup expired, and maybe users would leave and maybe they wouldn’t … But the game would be over. The race would be in its cool-down period. Still, a pretty chill life overall. Especially in this economy. What would Kevin Systrom do?
But with this, just like with the Instagram sale, comes a nagging, cloying afterthought: “What if Tumblr (or Instagram or _______) could have been the next Facebook?” And this nagging opportunity cost would grow even louder if Yahoo succeeded with Tumblr, finding a way to monetize its millions of eyeballs much like Google did with YouTube.
“Tumblr could have been a contender.”
It’s this thought that will lead to a “No” from Karp and his board if it gets nagging enough. And this thought is weighty — Zuck had it too when he was being courted by Yahoo, and we all know how that turned out. But what happens after the “No,” the fact that Karp will be challenged to build a real business on top of Tumblr’s scale, is daunting enough to turn that “No” once again into a “Yes.”
Can Tumblr turn the process of following other Tumblrs through your dashboard into a stream it can monetize with sponsored, story-style ads? Or find a way to cram ads into the notoriously independent, and risky, content?
Can Karp put on the big-boy pants, hire a Sheryl Sandberg character, and create a money-making machine? Because if he’s not sure, and he’s not ready for a long, hard, uphill fight, he should sell.
Look what happened to Groupon; still trading below its $6bn offer.
A billion dollars is a lot of money.
Tumblr is a re-envisioning of tumblelogging, a subset of blogging that uses quick, mixed-media posts. The service hopes to do for the tumblelog what services like LiveJournal and Blogger did for the blog. The difference is that its extreme simplicity will make luring users a far easier task than acquiring users for traditional weblogging. Anytime a user sees something interesting online, they can click a quick “Share on Tumblr” bookmarklet that then tumbles the snippet directly. The result is…
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