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Category: Beth Kindig’s Blog

There are 4 posts published under Beth Kindig’s Blog.

Tech and Startup News: 7 Things You Missed Today

Tech and startup news for August 5th, 2013

1. Government scientists reveal what they’ve come up with to make civilian internet faster, safer, and more efficient through quantum cryptography.”

US government laboratory scientists reveal that they’ve been operating a network that communicates in an exceptionally safe and potentially “hacker-resistant” environment since 2011. They have achieved this by using something called “quantum cryptography.”

What is quantum cryptography? Imagine the few seconds gap between the next loaded page when you click “buy” while online shopping. “That’s because of the cryptography,” says Hughes, a member of the laboratory team. It takes time to create a secure line to transmit sensitive information, like your card number, between your laptop, eBay, and your bank. But “in our case that just wouldn’t happen,” says Hughes, “in principle [our invention] could speed up the Internet.”

Researchers say that this hacker-resistant internet could be swiftly and cost-effectively applied to civilian internet. At consumer level, this would mean a safe and speedier internet when you go online, search up things on Google, and online shop. It would also help keep businesses and government institutions safe - secrets could finally stay private.


2. The Washington Post To Be Sold To Founder Jeff Bezos


Jeff Bezos, who was made famous by his entrepreneurship, is purchasing the Washington Post for a hefty sum of $250 million. Bezos will become the new and sole owner of the Washington Post when the sale is complete. The Post Co, who currently runs the Washington Post, will change to an undecided name and continue as a publicly traded company without the Washington Post.


The Washington Post has been the center of breaking domestic issues. Reporters from the Washington Post broke news of Watergate, and in June, the National Security Agency’s surveillance program. However, financial issues forced the company’s board to consider selling in order to bring in revenue.


3. The Story of Jaclyn Konzelmann: “Why I Quit Microsoft To Join A 5 Person Startup In Toronto”

When Jaclyn Konzelmann was working in Seattle for Microsoft, she would have told you that she loved it and would never leave. Now, she is currently in Toronto, sleeping on air mattresses after taking a huge pay cut because she is “homeless.” Although her life may have gotten harder, she is happier - and she is always surprised that people show no shock when she tells them her story.

Read the 6 things that drove her away from Microsoft and her journey leaving the software giant behind at


4. FBI might be using malware to try to expose anonymous identities.

Over the weekend, security researchers at Tor noticed an anonymous “darknet” on their network. Some hacker was trying to use a custom made malware to identify its users. According to Wired’s sources, this hacker was not a random stranger - it was a member of the FBI.

This is worrying for advocates of privacy because Tor’s goal is to protect the anonymity of its users. The hacker got in through a security flaw in Firefox and identified users on websites hosted by Freedom Hosting. The telltale signs that this hack was a FBI operation are stemmed in the details of the hack. The hack took place in Reston, Virginia, miles away from the FBI’s headquarters. And, instead of breaking into the website to build a backdoor and steal usernames and passwords (like most hackers would have done), the malware simply identified users in an “evidence-gathering” way.

One possible reason for the monitoring of this website is Freedom Hosting’s infamous reputation for being a favorite destination for child porn. Anonymous actually targeted the hosting service in 2011 for hosting illicit and child pornographic material. Last Thursday, chid porn kingpin Eric Eoin Marques was arrested in Ireland - if the FBI was participating in an investigation related to Marques and his contacts in the United States, Freedom Hosting would be one of the primary places to look at.

On one hand, child pornography is highly illegal and highly awful, so it makes sense to do what you can to stop it. But on the other hand, it seems as though the government is inching towards breaking privacy lines day after day. Is this a step in the right direction for justice or is this a step towards a slippery slope that will one day lead to a complete lack of privacy for the American citizen?

5. The Rise Of The Hardware Startup


GABA, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving networking between German-American and Californian businesses will host “The Rise Of The Hardware Startup” next week in Palo Alto.

GABA has assembled a panel of experts, with expertise ranging from corporations to startups to manufacturing and investing. The event takes place August 15th and costs $25-$34.


6. Too busy or too lazy? There’s a startup for that.

It’s a new trend: startups catering to people who can’t - or won’t - do something for themselves.

If you don’t want to clean the house, you hit up Exec or Homejoy. If you don’t want to go grocery shopping, you can have Instacart bring your groceries to your door. If you don’t feel like cooking, Hasty will bring you healthy, gourmet cooked meals. Prim will pick up and do your laundry for you. And if you somehow manage to get sick, you can call Mediacast and have them find you a doctor who makes house calls.

The average salary of a Bay Area employee is estimated at $101,278 in 2012. Long working days and a high salary leads to a propensity to pay others to do your chores for you - as can be seen in the successfulness and wide use of these startups. For example, TaskRabbit, a startup that connects you to people willing to do your errands, is popular with many big tech names. An software engineer admits to using TaskRabbit to have someone stand in  the Apple iPhone 5 line on opening day. Roy Bahat, former IGN Entertainment president, admits to have hired a TaskRabbit to drive his car from meeting to meeting.

Although some of the startups may seem impractical it is clear there there is a market for laziness and a lack of time in the Bay Area, and these startups are definitely exploiting it.


7. 10 Sci-Fi Hacks That Are Now a Reality

Ten things you can now do thanks to the advancement of technology: Remote-Control a car; Kill someone with technology (hack their pacemaker, hack their heart); Spy on someone by hacking their phone; Impersonate a cell phone tower; Monitor people through their TV; Hijack a house through home automation systems; Induce power outages through cyber attacks; Spy on surveillance cameras; Spy on entire cities and Clone employee’s access badges to gain access to private facilities by scanning the badge.


Tech & Startups: Top 7 Things You Missed Today

Tech & Startups:  Top 7 News Items From Across the WeJuly 29th, 2013

  1. Tech Giants Beware! $35.1 B Merger creates World’s Biggest Advertising Agency


Omnicom and Publicis are merging to create the world’s biggest advertising agency worth $35.1 billion. The company will be called Publicis Omnicom Group and will be led by Omnicom CEO, John Wre,n and Publicis CEO Maurice Levy. They will be co-chief executives.


Meanwhile, Google is currently the world’s biggest digital ad network, and Facebook recently showed promising returns on mobile. Both of these companies, plus Yahoo, Apple and other tech giants have reason to be alarmed by this recent acquisition and potential threat in what is considered to be the internet’s top bounty: digital advertising.


2. 60 Minutes Predicts Steve Jobs Will Be Forgotten


In a recent documentary on Bill Gates, 60 Minutes highlighted the business magnate gone philanthropist, asserting he will make a longer-lasting imprint on society than Steve Jobs.


Here’s a link to the video:


3. Heart Surgery in India for $1583.00 costs $106,385 in U.S.


A heart surgeon turned businessman, Devi Shetty, has cut the price of coronary bi-pass surgery down to a mere $1583. It currently costs $106,385 at Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic, as first reported by Bloomberg.


How does Shetty accomplish such low prices across the 21 medical centers around India? He cuts down on air conditioning, the cost of medical scrubs and also foregoes Pre-Op testing.

 “The current price of everything that you see in health care is predominantly opportunistic pricing and the outcome of inefficiency.” - Devi Shetty


4. New Invention Wards Off Date-Rape Drug


A Boston MassChallenge startup has invented new cups and straws, designed to change color in the event someone slips a date-rape drug into your drink.


startups from boston mass challenge


The creator, Michael Abramson, was drugged himself one night in a Boston nightclub – which inspired the new concept. He raised $52,000 on IndieGoGo, citing support and outreach from other date rape drug victims.

“Your straw would actually change color. Any part that is touching the drink would actually then change color. And it would be designed, too, so it would be clear that there was a color change happening, there would be no question about it,” Abramson told WGBH news

5. The Ultimate Electric Driving Machine … Isn’t Tesla


BMW has just entered the EV market with an announcement today of the new BMW i3. The new vehicle in the i-Line is priced at $41,350 and expected to reach the United States in early 2014.


Current stats include a 22-kilowatt, 450-pound lithium-ion power and the ability to reach 80-100 miles with 170 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque.


On that note, the Nissan Leaf is still a better value in the EV market, but BMW at least has a carved out a starting point.



6. Busy Month For Bitcoin: Ruled to be Illegal in Thailand


Earlier this month, we reported the first website in Iran “Coin Ava” is now open to buying and selling Bitcoin. Yet, in a recent meeting between Bitcoin, LLC. and The Bank of Thailand, bitcoin was ruled to illegal in Thailand. The following reasons were stated: “lack of existing applicable laws, capital controls and the fact that Bitcoin straddles multiple financial facets.”


7. Fun Project with Arduino: Monitoring Toilets

Using a wireless Arduino, a team in Tokyo has designed a monitoring device for bathrooms. Similar to airplane occupancy lights, the team designed a way to know if the bathroom is occupied across three floors.





Top 3 Startups from Silicon Valley LAUNCH

Tesla for Wheelchairs, An Algorithm API and Crowd Sourced Security

This month, SV Forum is celebrating thirty years as a not-for-profit organization supporting innovation and startups in Silicon Valley. The organization holds a staggering 200 events per year for entrepreneurs and investors, and therefore, is well suited for naming the industry’s top tech visionaries and promising startups.

On Tuesday, SV Forum announced the 2013 visionaries, which includes Steve Blank, a highly influential serial entrepreneur, author and academician, Peter Diamandis of the XPrize Foundation, Ray Kurzweil of Google and Padmasree Warrior of Cisco. This award honors the industry’s foremost pioneers and leaders, and in the past has included Bill Gates, Marc Andreessen and Ron Conway.

In addition to announcing this year’s visionaries, SV Forum also held a LAUNCH event for startups, giving promising teams the opportunity to pitch to a panel of venture capitalists and angel investors. Members of the panel included Bill Reichert of Garage Ventures and Ron Weissman of Band of Angels.

Here are three startups not to be missed:

We all know data is important; this company takes it a step further and transforms data input into intelligent output. Their API is simple enough for developers to build applications without writing algorithms. Current clients include a semiconductor company who uses the API to decrease the strain on its sales force by automating smaller purchases. Another creative use of the API is building a predictive model for entrepreneurs. This application is currently in beta testing with a VC firm, where it helps predict the next interesting company by using a combination of graph analysis and classification.



WHILL is attempting to disrupt the $1.7B wheelchair market by introducing Electric Vehicle technology to wheelchairs. You can think of it as Tesla meets personal mobility. The actual product has a very slick appearance, having been designed by the CEO, Satoshi Sugie, formerly of the Nissan Design Center. Another feature is the unique wheel, which moves transversely with a small turning radius, optimizing the mobility of the user, and is especially helpful for daily street obstacles.



“It takes a crowd to stop a crowd.”

Simply put, Bugcrowd crowd sources security. Large corporations, such as Google, Facebook and Etsy, already do this by incentivizing researchers to exploit and test security flaws. Bugcrowd uses a similar concept, and in a recent case involving a large grocery store chain, the company crowd sourced over 250 security researchers to solve a mobile risk which had led to the grocery chain’s infrastructure. The magnitude of what Bugcrowd intends to introduce is quite impressive (perhaps prime for the elusive hockey stick?) when you consider the growing concerns in security and mobile.


Kill the Query Letter


“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.” -Shunryu Suzuki Zen Buddhism


When I first started writing about startups, I tracked the market very methodically. And by market, I mean the “flooded,” “saturated,” “ecosystem,” that we now call the “Series A Crunch.” A few months later, in June of 2012, I created a spreadsheet with over 2,000 data points. It was a completely useless spreadsheet detailing product launches, funding notices, acquisitions, stage demos, app updates, patent lawsuits, hirings, firings, – anything startup related and published in the press.


The next thing I did was show my spreadsheet to Jeremy Liew of Lightspeed Ventures to get his thoughts on it. He was pretty clear on his response: “a laundry list like this isn’t very useful to me.”


Exactly. But that’s what we read every day:  a laundry list of press releases.


And there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for this laundry list – publishing today is based on an archaic system originally designed for print newspapers. The press release, as we know it today, was invented by a public relations man named Ivy Lee on October 28th, 1906 when a train owned by Pennsylvania Railroad wrecked and left more than 50 people dead.  Lee’s agency had been retained by the railroad, so he quickly issued a statement on what had transpired to the New York Times before any rumors could spread.


This is the same practice companies’ use today to communicate important matters. Problem is, everything else has changed. Anyone could cite quite a few inventions brought to market since 1906:  automobiles, planes (1903), televisions, hair dryers, computers, the internet, smartphones – but actually, the most important thing that has changed since 1906 is the reader … humans.


We now communicate in 140 characters and watch 4 billion hours of video on YouTube every month. We’ll suffer through terrible prose for erotic novels like Fifty Shades of Grey. And, there is no comparing Charles Dickens to R.R. Martin; English has evolved into two separate languages.


Book publishing is actually the perfect example of an industry which has undergone a huge transformation thanks to Jeff Bezos. Interesting enough, it used to be based off something very similar to the press release called a query letter.


To the reader, Amazon made books cheaper and more accessible – so this was a no-brainer. But to a writer, what Jeff Bezos did, which was absolutely brilliant, is he killed the query letter. This is an extremely important fact because it solves the chicken and the egg problem. We know readers want cheaper books delivered on demand, but what motivated writers to e-publish over the traditional method of publishing?


I remember a time when e-publishing was quite daunting. Every writer wanted the prestige of the publishing house label. But as the proud author of an unpublished 400 page novel, I can assure you – it was the ineffective query letter which drove writers to take matters into their own hands. The “slush pile,” as it was so affectionately called by the literary agents and publishers, offered writers a 1-2% chance of being published. This process was more strenuous than writing the actual novel. And that’s why authors were willing to try Amazon. They could circumvent the gatekeeper, connect with readers and go back to doing what they did best: writing books.


Now Amazon is a built-out marketplace. And there are a few other companies connecting the writer directly to the reader such as Wattpad. In fact, the engagement level on Wattpad is higher than Pinterest. Ponder that for a moment.


I believe these companies have done so well because the reader doesn’t care about the publisher. Similarly, the trend has changed in journalism and we now get our breaking news from Twitter – we don’t care about the reporter. We want this direct access because we can. That’s the beauty of technology. It should cut out the middle man; the gatekeeper. And if the journalist is the so-called gatekeeper, then the press release is an admission ticket crafted back in 1906 … which is why I really think it’s time to open up the internet.