Existing Members, please login
Not a Member?
Three easy ways to become a member:
- Complete an inquiry form to have a representative contact you.
- Use the search box to the right to look up your affiliate and contact them directly.
- View a complete affiliate listing, select your affiliate based on location, and contact them directly.
For more information about membership questions in general, call 800-910-4283 or email email@example.com.
Find Your Affiliate
Because issues and needs often differ regionally across North America, membership begins at a local level, through your local affiliate association.
Enter your zip code below to locate your affiliate.
What is your Zipcode?
Microsoft watchers Mary Jo Foley and Paul Thurrott recently detailed a number of changes that could be coming in the next major version of Windows, something that Foley is hearing called “Threshold.” It could be heading towards our waters in 2015.
Unsurprisingly, Threshold continues the trend of unification inside the Windows aegis. The platform becomes more tightly locked, with a common core sporting several faces, or SKUs. One, as described by Foley as “Modern,” is akin to Windows RT, and would focus on Windows Store apps.
Also potentially coming with Threshold is a “more traditional consumer SKU,” which would include “some semblance of productivity and familiarity with Windows.” That makes sense. And, finally, an enterprise facing SKU that would suit organizations of scale and their needs. This should all make sense, as the builds that Foley is describing mirror closely Windows 8.1 RT, Windows 8.1, and Windows 7.
Microsoft declined to comment.
The real force behind what Foley is discussing is the idea of having one core Windows regardless of SKU or device, that would allow developers to build once and deploy broadly. You can see the outlines of this in WinRT, and so forth. So, not surprising, but also encouraging. Now, to something that does surprise: The Start menu could be coming back.
According to Thurrott, the Start menu – not just the Start button, which has already returned – could come back to Windows. It would probably “appear only on those product versions that support the desktop,” which makes sense given that sans desktop, you wouldn’t need the damn thing.
All this kicks together to imply that in the Windows RT/Windows Phone OS we are not going to have the desktop at all. Office will go Metro, ending the need for the desktop on those devices. Naturally, there needs to be more user interface integration and so forth, but I think the writing is on the wall.
So the story of Windows unification could contain new wrinkles that bring back old functionality in some SKUs. Thurrott likes this:
When you combine this information with Mary Jo’s SKU info, you can see that Microsoft is, if not moving forward per se, at least continuing to do the right thing and responding to complaints. And given the changes in the groups responsible for Windows, this wasn’t a given at all. It’s a good sign.
I agree with that, mostly, though any focus on the desktop comes at the expense of Metro, which means the Windows Store. Still, Microsoft has to assuage enterprise customers and consumers alike, which requires sacrifice.
Top Image Credit: Flickr
Co-hosted by TechCrunch, VentureBeat and GigaOm, the annual “Oscars of Tech” celebrates the best of the past year. But it’s you, the tech community, that nominates who among us will be most deserving to take the stage at Davies Symphony Hall on February 10th.
Included in the 20 categories are the best startup, best design, and Angel of the Year with GitHub, FiftyThree, and Chris Dixon winning top prizes last year. New for 2013 is the Best Heath Startup in which we will recognize the company that best epitomizes the future of medicine.
Nominations will close on December 15th, 2013 at 11:59PM PST. General admission tickets are now available and start at $80.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
This weekend my taxi driver dropped me off at Twitter HQ and, as I paid my $7 fare with Square, asked me if I worked at Twitter. When I responded “No,” he said, “Ok, I usually charge those people more.”
Depending on who you ask, tech’s hyper-gentrification is either causing an economic cold war, or is blown out of proportion. Any way you slice it, the tech industry, paying proportionally higher salaries because of VC funding and creating millionaires through lucrative IPOs, has caused housing prices and everything else influenced by housing prices in the Bay Area to skyrocket.
And it’s spreading.
The rising housing prices and sense of inequity led to community protests this morning at Valencia and 24th Street, with the intent of blocking a Google private bus, for many a symbol for all that is wrong with the tech bubble. The protestors demanded $1 billion dollars from the tech giants in order to fund affordable housing.
Of course, no one, tech rich or not, wants to pay $3,000 in rent for a one-bedroom apartment. The collective startup world cringed as news broke of a particularly insensitive response to the protestors: “Why don’t you go to a city where you can afford it? This is a city for the right people,” screamed someone who purported themselves to be a Googler.
According to the reporter who originally uploaded the video, the confrontation was actually a staged performance by who looks to be University of California union organizer Max Alper. (Update: Alpers confirms it was a stunt.)
The most comical part of Alper’s act was his declaration that he had been living in SF for six months! Honestly, if he really wanted to piss people off, he should have borrowed a pair of Google Glass.
Despite the myths, oblivious outliers and dumb Op-Eds, few people working in tech think that tech is a meritocracy. Sergey Brin has been secretly buying up property and engaging in a sort of private rent control down South. And Google, Facebook, Apple and Genentech are working with the City of San Francisco to pay for permits to use the MUNI stops, taking their proposal to the MTA board in January.
You don’t need Glass to see there’s a problem, and the solution isn’t Social Darwinism.
Another exit for a new media startup into the arms of the old media industry: E.W. Scripps, the storied owner of 19 local television stations and daily newspapers in 13 markets across the U.S., today announced that it has acquired Newsy, a digital video news platform, for $35 million in cash. Newsy will become a subsidiary of Scripps.
To mark the video-friendly event, Newsy and Scripps posted a YouTube video.
The deal is expected to close January 1, Scripps said.
This represents a pretty impressive exit for Newsy, which was founded in 2008 and raised under $5 million. It also represents an interesting evolution for Scripps: back in 2007, in a moment of digital chicken that it lost, it spun off its Scripps Interactive division (full of hundreds of millions of dollars in acquired and homegrown assets) and remained E.W. Scripps the publishing company. Since then, it has quietly been building that digital effort back up, with more cautious footing.
This is about Scripps, which was founded in 1879, buying an asset that gives it a digital video component to complement its existing TV and online services — effectively a bridge between the three areas where it already does business if you also count newspapers.
It also gives the company access into an audience that consumes their news (and video) on devices like tablets, and has largely turned away from some of those more traditional platforms where Scripps still bases a majority of its business.
“Newsy adds an important dimension to our video news strategy,” Rich Boehne, Scripps chairman, president and CEO, said in a statement. “It’s a next-generation news network designed and built exclusively for digital audiences. Newsy’s uncommon approach to curation and storytelling has helped it build a strong national brand, which fits well with both our current media assets and our ambitions to further develop digital media businesses.”
Newsy’s ad-supported videos are currently delivered to web, mobile, tablet and connected TV platforms, both direct to consumer and via partnerships with (TC’s owner) AOL, Microsoft and Mashable, among others.
The fact that these were named in the release might hint that those partnerships will continue post-acquisition, although this wasn’t specified. What has been is where the service will expand, which will be into more city- and region-based content: “Newsy will become an important news source on the Scripps digital products in local markets,” the company said.
“Scripps is committed to participating in the future of digital media,” said Adam Symson, senior vice president and chief digital officer for Scripps, in a statement. “Newsy is built for the digital audience, especially on the platforms we’re seeing emerge now with highly connected consumers.”
Newsy’s 35 full-time employees and its part-time employees will remain in Columbia, MO, the company says. That will include founder and CEO Jim Spencer. “We are proud to be joining with Scripps, which shares our values of innovation and editorial integrity,” he noted.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
If you thought that the days of Samwer brothers e-commerce investments with the eBays and Groupons of the world were over, think again. Today, their Berlin-based incubator Rocket Internet announced a new and strategic investment partner, the UK physical and online retail giant Tesco. Tesco, which is the world’s second-largest retailer by revenues (after Walmart) will now work in “close cooperation” with the brothers’ incubator. That will begin by leading a $250 million round in Lazada, an Amazon-like online marketplace with operations across Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Other Rocket regulars Access Industries, Kinnevik and Verlinvest also participated.
Other aspects of the deal, Rocket says, will include “customer analytics, private label development and supply chain management.” And as another part of the news, it has also expanded operations in the region with Lamido in Indonesia and Vietnam — a social commerce effort “to tap into the large informal e-commerce market of C2C transactions which includes thousands of shops on social networks such as Facebook.”
It comes on the heels of a $100 million round in Lazada only six months ago and brings the total invested into Lazada to $486 million.
Rocket Internet — which is known mainly for incubating e-commerce startups — notes that this is the first time that Tesco has invested in a pure-play e-commerce operation. Up to now, Tesco has built an empire on Walmart-style supermarkets, primarily in the UK, using that to expand as a strong and early player in e-commerce in grocery and home goods delivery and later digital goods to complement the sale of electronics.
But the investment news comes at a tricky time for Tesco: the company has long been seen as an aggressive and successful retailer, but its strategy has stumbled in the past two years. In the last quarter sales were down 1.5% in its main UK stores, and sales in other markets in Europe were down 4%, and in Asia 5.1%. In September, it put its U.S. Fresh & Easy stores into bankruptcy (so, maybe not so Easy to crack the U.S., after all).
In that context, a focus on new, emerging markets that ride on operations that have already been seeded is a sign to investors that Tesco is now betting big on new opportunities. Emerging markets like Southeast Asia are a key target because they are large, and fast-growing. Southeast Asia as a region has some 600 million consumers who are only now really getting turned on to smartphones and shopping online.
Indeed, this seems to be the rationale for Tesco’s investment. “This investment in Southeast Asia’s largest e-commerce retailer continues our strategy of developing leading multichannel businesses in core growth markets,” said Robin Terrell, group multichannel director of Tesco, in a statement. “Lazada is an exciting, pioneering business which has developed a market-leading offer in each of its five markets in just 18 months.”
Notably, Rocket Internet has established e-commerce businesses spanning home goods, fashion, financial services and much more across every continent. It has put a particularly strong focus on operations in emerging markets in recent years because they are growing faster and are less crowded with competition, Oliver Samwer told me earlier this year in an interview. It has raised hundreds of millions of dollars from investors to build out these operations, often from repeat investors — something that could either point to sustained success if you are a Samwer believer or ponzi-like tendencies focused around clones, if you are one of their detractors.
The real truth is that it’s hard to tell, because as is usual with Rocket Internet, it is not revealing the revenues, net income/loos or any other financial metrics of its operations. However, Tesco is a publicly-traded company, and that will likely lead to demands for greater transparency in the future. (For now Rocket tells us that the operation has some 1,500 employees across five Southeast Asian countries and that Lazada is the “leading online general merchandiser across the region.”
Although Access Industries, controlled by Russian-born (now U.S. citizen) tycoon Len Blavatnik, is a regular Rocket Internet investor, this will be Access’ first investment in Lazada. “We are delighted to welcome Tesco and Access to join our investor group through this funding round,” said Maximilian Bittner, CEO of Lazada Group, in a statement.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Payments Startup Clinkle Lays Off A Quarter Of Its Staff [UPDATED: New Layoffs In Addition To 30+ Who Already Left]
Stealthy payments startup Clinkle which raised $25 million in outside funding before its product ever launched, has terminated around 25% of its staff (16 people), according to a report posted this morning by Fortune. The news of the layoffs comes amid speculation that there’s internal trouble, and even potentially issues with Clinkle leadership, which has raised doubts about the company’s future.
The news of the layoffs comes shortly after the unearthing of a scathing review of Clinkle operations and its founder, 22 year-old Lucas Duplan, which was left on Q&A site Quora in late November. Reportedly authored by two former employees, the post lists 31 ex-employees at the startup, though it didn’t clarify who among that list was terminated, versus those who quit or who may have been working part-time or had to return to school – or so points out Business Insider, which found the Quora post originally.
Similar anonymously-posted lists of ex-staff have also showed up on web before, like this list on Pastebin.
The anonymous Quora posters allege that they put in long workweeks, having been promised equity, but never received it. That post had to be taken with the proverbial grain of salt at the time, however, as it seemingly came from someone(s) with an axe to grind. However, combined with this new report, doubts about Clinkle grow.
The company has already had a hard time keeping news of its goings-on under wraps, choosing to remain “stealthy” even as large-scale leaks, including screenshots of the interfaces and functionality emerged on sites like YouTube and Tumblr. And now it has tried to keep quiet on layoff news, only to have that leak out as well. (We reached out to Clinkle to provide comment, but the company has yet to respond to inquiries. See below for Clinkle’s response.)
Fortune says there had been a plan to disclose the Clinkle layoffs by announcing it alongside the news of high-profile new hires. The company had added COO Barry McCarthy formerly of Netflix, earlier this fall, and last week two of McCarthy’s former Netflix colleagues joined, including former Walmart and Netflix exec Andy Rendich as Clinkle’s VP of operations, and Allison Hopkins, formerly of Palo Alto Networks and Netflix, as VP of talent.
There was some hint from McCarthy that Clinkle needed work on its operations side of the business. As he told TechCrunch at the time, the company needed to build out its customer support team. “We need to build it from scratch, build it to scale, and built it to operate at scale,” he had said. There was not anyone at the company until Rendich who really understood how to do this, though.
Meanwhile, Hopkins was added to help Clinkle pick the right people and teach those already there how to manage. Reading between the lines, it’s a hint that those in charge weren’t ready to drive a company with $25 million in funding and the ambitious idea that it could replace your physical wallet with a mobilized version.
The layoffs then could be very well the result of McCarthy’s work – coming in, clearing house, and installing the right team. And that may be something Clinkle really needed. But as he told Fortune, the layoffs shouldn’t necessarily signal trouble for Clinkle:
“Some young people are leaving, and some very reasoned executives are joining. It’s reasonable to assume that these execs wouldn’t be joining if something was chronically wrong or broken.”
UPDATE: The following is a statement from Clinkle about the layoffs:
Our objective in today’s organizational restructuring is to better allocate our resources and work towards ensuring that we have the right people in the right roles. While turnover is a normal part of any business, especially in the startup world, it’s not easy or enjoyable for anyone. In all cases, we’re committed to managing these things as professionally and as considerately as possible. Today’s moves will better position our executive team to focus on adding the experience and functional expertise that we need.
16 employees (about 25% of the company) were affected in the areas of ops, growth, and human resources. This is in addition to the 30+ employees that were already reported to have left Clinkle by Business Insider.
With regards to the 30+ employees, to put it in perspective, some were part-time, some were students, some were contractors – as we grow, there are going to be changes in business strategy that result in people seeking opportunity elsewhere. As I said, in all situations, we’re committed to managing things as professionally as possible.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
By teaching a computer to think, Facebook hopes to better understand how its users do too. So today the company announced that one of the world’s leading deep learning and machine learning scientists, NYU’s Professor Yann LeCun, will lead its new artificial intelligence laboratory.
MIT Technology Review first reported that Facebook would launch an Artificial Intelligence lab back in September, but now it has something of a celebrity scientist at its helm. Facebook’s AI research will be split across its Menlo Park headquarters, London office, and a new AI lab built just a block from NYU’s campus in Manhattan.
LeCun has been pioneering artificial intelligence breakthroughs since the 1980s when he developed an early version of the “back-propagation algorithm” that became the top way to train artificial neural networks. He went on to work for AT&T Bell Laboratories where he created the “convolutional network model” that mimics the visual cortex of living beings to create a pattern recognition system for machines. This model was used for optical character recognition and handwriting recognition that powered how many banks read checks in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
LeCun’s expertise is in “deep learning” speech and image recognition systems has driven his research in building visual navigation systems for self-driving cars, autonomous ground robots, drones, and more.
Now, LeCun’s knowledge could help Facebook determine exactly what people want to see in their News Feeds, how they want to organize their photos, and possibly more exotic projects.In a Facebook post this morning, LeCun gave some early details of his plans for the Facebook Artificial Intelligence lab, and noted CEO Mark Zuckerberg will reveal more at the NIPS Deep Learning conference in Lake Tahoe today. LeCun’s appointment will help Facebook compete with other tech giants as they all seek to gain business advantages and bolster science with deep learning. Google recently hired futurist and artificial intelligence expert Ray Kurzweil as a director of engineering to work on AI projects. IBM’s Watson supercomputer is now working on deep learning. Even Yahoo just acquired photo analysis startup LookFlow to spearhead its new deep learning group. Facebook has no shortage of problems LeCun could work on. Deep learning could help Facebook recognize and categorize the content of News Feed posts so it could better tell who to show them to. Right now we Like Facebook Pages and status updates to teach its feed algorithm, but Deep Learning could allow Facebook to recognize you frequently discuss topics related to cats, detect posts from friends about cats, and deliver them to your home page. Photos and videos could also get a big boost from Deep Learning. LeCun could improve Facebook’s facial recognition technology to be more accurate or work on videos in addition to photos. Deep learning could also let Facebook determine landmarks in photos for location tagging, assess which photos from the hundreds you took on vacation are good enough to share, and more. If Facebook can teach a computer to learn what we like, it could teach us to keep visiting and sharing every day.