21st Century Economy

True Peer-to-Peer Rideshare Now a Reality

Larry Downes and Paul Nunes, authors of the seminal book Big Bang Disruption, which details how to strategically navigate our digital world, wrote that every industry is ripe for disruption, even an industry that is currently disrupting another industry. For example: ridesharing.

Ridesharing has caught fire in the U.S. Want to catch a ride in an open seat in someone’s private vehicle?  It’s as simple as tapping your smartphone app.

Competition is alive and well in the rideshare industry.  In alphabetical order, the three dominant players in the game are Lyft, Sidecar and UberX.  Each differentiates itself in its own unique way.  I frequently use all three services.

Read the full article on Daily Kos

Follow the Leader | California Regulators Approve Transportation Ridesharing Companies

As featured on Tech Zulu
By: Mike Montgomery

Regulations can be suffocating. Used in the wrong way they might accidentally “Napster a nascent industry.

Thankfully, the California Public Utilities Commission realized the value of the mobile-based sharing economy by voting to legitimize the rideshare industry statewide. As Liz Gannesof All Things D reports:

The California Public Utilities Commission today approved a decision to legitimize for-profit ride-sharing companies. The ruling should give legal clearance to peer-to-peer driving services from startups like Uber, Lyft, Sidecar and Tickengo, if they meet certain parameters. It’s the first such decision in the U.S.

The CPUC’s decision, which was unanimous, boils down to creating a new transportation category called “transportation network companies” in order to oversee rideshare companies – an idea put forward last July by Commission President Michael Peevey. I liked President Peevey’s idea when it was just an idea. I like it even more now that it’s formally on the books.

By realizing the value of technology and innovation for California’s economy, and smartly supporting the trajectory of the digital revolution, the CPUC has shown regulations can indeed keep pace with the blazing speed of progress. The Commission has also provided a blueprint for other regulatory bodies to follow suit — not just when it comes to regulating the rideshare industry, but for many innovative, tech-based ideas with the potential to disrupt.

As the saying goes, as goes California, so goes the country.   I anticipate that yesterday’s news paves the way for other states to embrace common sense, forward-thinking tech regulations.

 

Utopia Parkway in LA | Ride-Sharing Revolution

I’m obsessed with the ride-share revolution sweeping the nation.

My interest was piqued last year during a phone call with Nick Allen, a member of my CALinnovates Advisory Board.  Nick told me that he was in the process of winding down his fund at Spring Ventures, which would allow him to focus his energy on a new business he founded with Sunil Paul.  The new venture, called SideCar, launched in San Francisco last June.  Four months later Allen and Paul raised a Series A round of $10 million from Lightspeed Venture Partners, Google Ventures, SV Angel, Mark Pincus, Lerer Ventures and a convoy of other prominent angels and VCs.  The A round allowed SideCar to expand well beyond their launch city of San Francisco.  SideCar now serves passengers in Seattle, Austin, DC, Philly and, now, thankfully, the City of Angels.  Competition abounds, mostly in the form of Lyft, another Bay Area-based purveyor of ride-shares.  You simply can’t miss Lyft’s cars driving around the city due to its clever marketing ploy of placing big, pink “carstaches” on the grill of each car in their fleet.

Read Mike Montgomery’s Full Article on TechZulu

Mike Montgomery: President Obama’s State of the Union Address Should Offer Hope for the New Economy

Today, speechwriters in the West Wing will put the finishing touches on President Obama’s State of the Union address. The State of the Union provides every President an unparalleled opportunity to showcase his policy priorities. And the opportunity is never more valuable than in an inaugural year, when it can set the tone for the next four. This year I hope the President speaks to the digital economy and, specifically, California’s burgeoning tech sector.

In my dream scenario, the President’s speech will sketch a blueprint for building a stronger future for America. To me that means focusing some policies on Silicon Valley and San Francisco, still the headquarters of the new economy, a fact that Washington seems to forget from time-to-time. Tech-friendly policy initiatives will directly benefit the new economy, California, and the U.S. Take these, for example:

Give the app economy a boost. As consumers and businesses use more and more data, California’s burgeoning app economy could use a digital infrastructure upgrade, which could be accomplished by moving to all-IP networks across the country. A new Brookings Institution book by Robert Litan and Hal Singer, The Need for Speed: A New Framework for Telecommunications Policy for the 21st Century, offers a potential roadmap for a regulatory re-think that could help expedite the delivery of broadband to consumers and keep the new economy humming. Meanwhile, the federal government, under President Obama’s leadership, needs to speed the reallocation of underutilized spectrum, the invisible radio waves over which our connected devices communicate. If our telecommunications infrastructure clogs up like our freeways at rush hour, either because of inadequate spectrum or insufficient private investment, then our app economy will suffer.

Read the Full Article on the Daily Kos

Transformational Transportation – The Rideshare Revolution

Yesterday, I joined the rideshare revolution. Today I’m writing about it. I downloaded this app on my iPhone and took three short car trips yesterday courtesy of SideCar, a San Francisco-based ridesharing company that connects people who need a ride with drivers already on the road. Simply put, it’s a reinvention of carpooling through smartphone technology.

SideCar, founded by visionary cleanweb venture capitalist Sunil Paul, is only available in San Francisco at this time.

Read the Full Article

Transformational Transportation — The Rise of Uber

On my penultimate trip to D.C., it took far longer to find a cab to Dulles than I anticipated. Once I flagged one down, I thought the stress of the mad dash was essentially over. I was wrong. About a mile away from the airport, I asked my driver if he accepted credit cards, as I couldn’t cover the fee in cash. Much to the surprise of few in Washington, the gruff cabbie said “no,” that he did not take credit cards. He did, however, offer me one option, which felt more like an ultimatum. I could get out of the taxi, shuffle down a flight of stairs, bank left and use an inconveniently-placed ATM. After withdrawing my cash, I could sprint back to the car and exchange my money for my luggage. What a deal.

On my last trip to Washington, I had learned my lesson. Two lessons, actually. The first was to carve out time for an anticipatory trip to the ATM. The second lesson was to download the Uber app on my smartphone.

Read the Full Article on Huffington Post

The Value of a College Degree in the Innovation Economy

By Elisa Stephens and Mike Montgomery

If you haven’t noticed, the tech sector is on fire. Venture funding has led to new rounds of hiring in California, while startups are maturing into established companies, with many eyeing IPOs.

Some of today’s successful tech industry executives have taken unorthodox paths to becoming tech leaders, including dropping out of high school or college. But dropouts make up a tiny percentage of the success stories in the high tech field and beyond. It is true that young people today are light years ahead of past generations in mastering new technologies and adopting innovation. But nothing changes the fact that a 21st century economy requires a 21st century education. Bypassing post-secondary education or training in favor of jumping into the workplace is a disservice to a global society in a competitive world.

It’s concerning then that some opinion leaders are encouraging entrepreneurs to bypass a college degree. In fact, 60 Minutes recently featured PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel promoting this path. These viewpoints serve to fuel speculation that the entirety our future workforce is better served taking their skills directly to the marketplace in lieu of a college degree.

Multiple studies show that those with college degrees earn roughly $1 million more than those with a high school education. A recent Georgetown University study found that people with bachelor’s degrees make 84 percent more over a lifetime than high school graduates. These studies suggest that, despite the cost of college, graduates will more than make up for the expense over the course of their careers.

Beyond earning potential, a college degree can be a leg up in landing a job in California in the aftermath of a painful economic downturn. Companies emerging from a hiring slow-down are seeking the most qualified, prepared workers they can find. Employers can be selective, which is all the more reason to get a high quality education enriched with relevant real-world experience.

Today, CALinnovates, an advocacy group for California’s high-tech consumers, released a survey of technology employers that is good news for the 2012 class of college graduates. According to the survey, the technology community in the Bay Area believes that the economy is slowly turning around and 86 percent of survey respondents plan to hire 2012 college graduates. Fifty-five percent plan to hire more graduates than they did last year and only six percent of companies believe that economic conditions in the Bay Area will be worse in six months.

The survey reinforces the fact that high quality higher education programs are a critical to help the Bay Area to continue to anchor the innovation economy. For businesses to stay here, we need to provide them with a well-trained workforce. Companies responding to the survey drilled down further to say they are looking for job candidates with exceptional creative skills, be it graphic design capabilities, mobile app development experience, or a demonstrated innovative spirit. According to the CALinnovates’ survey, 91 percent of businesses consider creative ability valuable when evaluating who to hire.

Students hoping to seize opportunities in the Bay Area should look for post-secondary education programs that include hands-on training and real-world experiences so that they can rise to the top and hit the ground running. These creators of the future, armed with education and experience relevant to the 21st century, will be central to keeping California’s innovation economy humming.

Reposted from the Huffington Post

The Internet of Things: How “Smart Home” Products Save Us Time, Energy

The Internet of everything is sweeping the nation.  Whether we’re talking about your home, your life, or the way lighting is controlled on your favorite TV show.

According to Paul Goldhammer, a dimmer board operator on a sitcom filming at CBS Studios, there’s an app that essentially allows him to be in two places at once.  iRFR, a product of Electronic Theatre Controls (“ETC”), gives lighting technicians like Goldhammer a tool to perform much of their work from a smartphone or tablet, taking them out of the control booth so they can remedy other challenges on the fly, saving in production time and multiple takes.

What makes iRFR even more impressive is that ETC gives proceeds from the purchase of the app to a healthcare nonprofit called Behind the Scenes, which provides financial support to entertainment technology industry professionals when they are ill or injured.

From our perspective, iRFR fits into the broad category of smart home (or smart life, more appropriately) products.  This was a red hot category at CES this year.  We learned a lot about the smart refrigerator at the show, and over the last number of months, we’ve seen a proliferation of exciting innovation in this space.  One particularly noteworthy technology I’ve recently heard about provides the ability to check into your hotel room and unlock the door without stopping at the front desk.  I’ve also seen a demo for a power management system that allows people to turn on or off their appliances and lights using a simple app in order to save time, energy, money and the environment.

Without further ado, let’s shine a light on Paul Goldhammer and his mobile app.

The Sharing Economy

The San Francisco Planning + Urban Research Association’s event called “The Sharing Economy” featured a keynote speech from San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.  The sharing economy is a new twist on an old idea.  Sharing.  While sharing isn’t a novel idea, sharing plus technology is novel.  Companies engaging in this line of business, often called  Collaborative Consumption, refer to themselves as the new economy.

Whether we’re talking about car sharing, renting out your apartment, swapping books, bikes, or employing an errand runner, this phenomenon is sweeping its way across the state and beyond.  While the hundreds in attendance were excited about the potential of this emergent group of companies, they were equally as concerned about what ramifications the regulatory environment will have on these new businesses.  As the moderator of the panel said, “We can’t apply 20th Century regulations to 21st Century inventions.”

Enter San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, who has championed a new approach through a working group he has formed in order to “develop model policies” for these SF-based collaborative consumption companies.  If this working group is successful, their policies can and will encourage the growth of the tech sector in San Francisco and beyond in order to further support innovation and the economy.

 

Technology Taxes

California has been ground zero for technology development. For California to remain a global technology leader, the state will need to ensure a favorable business environment for innovation. Yet, recent studies indicate that increasing numbers of Silicon Valley businesses are looking outside of California to start new operations. Other states and countries, such as China, where the government has tripled R&D spending since 1998, are becoming more attractive to many companies. As California continues to suffer from record budget deficits and the search for new revenue becomes more urgent, the state must be careful not to hinder an industry that will be essential to a recovery and long-term prosperity.

The success of the technology industry in the state has brought huge sums of venture capital and wealth to the state that has benefited all Californians, and it is important to continue fostering the entrepreneurship and innovation that improves everyone’s quality of life. Maintaining a tax structure that does not place an undue burden on the technology industry is essential to California’s economic health and to keeping the state at the forefront of cutting-edge technology.

This industry is highly mobile and competitive, and tax policies play a critical role in determining competitive advantages. Taxing digital products (for example music, ring tones, e-books) could give out-of-state sellers a significant advantage since they can still easily reach customers online. In addition, R&D tax credit policies can influence where technology companies decide to locate. A great deal of R&D has found its way to California historically, but in this increasingly global economy revising this incentive could be necessary to keep the state competitive.  For instance, right now California’s R&D credit only applies to labor costs and not machinery. So there is double taxation on R&D – taxation of the equipment used in R&D and of the product when sold. The credit could also be more valuable if it was tradable so start-up companies that are not yet turning a profit can benefit as well.

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