By: Mike Montgomery (originally posted on Forbes)
Movie fans recently celebrated the date that Marty McFly and Emmett “Doc” Brown visit in the 1989 film Back to the Future Part II. While Back to the Future fans (and Peter Thiel) are still waiting for flying cars, the movie was on target about the proliferation of drones.
Drones are everywhere in the news. Amazon is testing Prime Air, a service that would use small drones to deliver packages to customers within 30 minutes. Walmart petitioned the FAA for permission to test drones for home delivery and pickup. Facebook’s Connectivity Lab hopes to use drones equipped with lasers to beam Internet access around the planet. In 1989, these kinds of ideas were the stuff of science fiction.
But because drones have become so affordable (a commercial-grade drone can go for $1,500), there are also plenty of entrepreneurs using the technology. These smaller startups are building companies that will use drones to improve harvests, deliver medicines to disaster zones, find people trapped in burning buildings, protect animals from poachers and monitor expansive construction sites from anywhere in the world.
(Originally posted in Business News Daily)
As a business owner in the modern world, you’ve probably heard a lot about Big Data in recent years. Maybe you’ve even started using it to inform your business decisions. But because of the enormous volume of data being generated every day, it’s difficult to know if you’re really using it effectively.
“Every industry vertical today is opening up to the Big Data world,” said Anil Kaul, the CEO of intelligent analytics company Absolutdata. “Small businesses … have started leveraging a combination of in-house and third-party technologies for developing a 360-degree view of their customers using data coming from multiple sources. However, the main challenge … is to determine which data to really focus on and how they can extract the real value from that data.”
By Kish Rajan
Recently, Narendra Modi became the first Indian prime minister in 30 years to visit Silicon Valley. Given his reputation as the most tech-savvy prime minister in India’s history, it makes sense that Modi broke the dry spell.
The purpose of Modi’s visit was to spread the gospel of Digital India, his initiative to turn India into one of the most digitally-connected countries in the world. At a dinner hosted by Silicon Valley luminaries such as Adobe’s Shantanu Narayen, Google’s Sundar Pichai and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, Modi called Digital India an “enterprise for India’s transformation on a scale that is, perhaps, unmatched in human history.” Modi wants to “change the way (his) nation will live and work.”
But Modi’s words were unintentionally tinged with irony. He was making his pitch in the heart of a state that is slowly atrophying.
When politicians discuss tackling California’s problems, including the drought, crumbling roads and environmental degradation, they hardly ever turn to the high-tech industry for help.
Meanwhile, Modi is tapping companies such as Cisco, Intel and IBM to help make Digital India a reality. To that end, Qualcomm has already made a commitment to invest $150 million in Indian startups.
Though Modi came here looking for support, California should be looking to Modi for inspiration. Our state, which houses these high-tech giants, fails to innovate to meet our public needs.
By Kish Rajan
LAX. SFO. John Wayne. San Diego.
This is a list of the major airports in California that have embraced competition and innovation by allowing rideshare pickups on their property. Conspicuously absent from the list is San Jose’s Norman Y. Mineta International Airport.
Earlier this year, the San Jose City Council voted to approve a pilot program allowing rideshare companies like Lyft, Sidecar and Uber to pick up customers at Mineta. The City Council hailed the vote as pro-innovation despite evidence to the contrary.
Not a single rideshare company chose to participate.
Today, a City Council committee hearing will be held to review the pilot program. This hearing is unlikely to include praise for the program, but does provide an opportunity for the City Council to rethink its decision and perhaps will pave the way for a U-turn…
There’s no question that when it comes to ridesharing, especially when children are in the car, safety is paramount. Customers need to trust that their drivers are committed to keeping them safe and that the drivers are thoroughly and properly investigated before they’re allowed behind the wheel. There can be no compromise on public safety.
This is something that everyone understands, whether you’re a parent like me, or a company offering rideshare services to the public. The question for rideshare companies is: “How do we protect the public at large while still fostering a culture of efficiency and innovation?”
The answer is that private sector background checks and the use of real-time driver-rating systems ensure the highest degree of consumer safety and security. There is little to gain from adopting additional state-imposed background check requirements for rideshare drivers, especially when the requirements being proposed won’t actually make riders safer.
A number of prominent members of the songwriting community will descend on Capitol Hill today to lobby lawmakers that streaming music platforms (not to mention many other businesses that play music, from restaurants to hotels to local coffee shops) should pay out more of their revenue to publishers and songwriters. Of course songwriters deserve their fair share, but are they are pointing their fingers at the wrong culprit?
First, let’s acknowledge that artists and record labels earn exponentially more from streaming than songwriters and publishers, so it’s only natural for songwriters to balk at the state of affairs in music streaming royalties.
However, some streaming services currently pay upwards of 50 or even 70 percent of their revenues towards royalties, and depending upon the results of a looming decision by the Copyright Royalty Board, these percentages could rise substantially.
Spotify reports that it has paid over $3 billion in royalties, and Pandora recently announced that it has paid out a total of $1.5 billion. But in unpacking the problem, one realizes the tension between songwriters and the digital platforms is misplaced.
The frustration for songwriters and publishers is that they don’t know where that money is going. There is no transparency and no way for songwriters to track what they are earning from royalty payments.
By: Mike Montgomery
When the California Labor Commission ruled that Uber drivers are employees and should therefore be entitled to benefits, it showed how out of touch our regulators are with the new economy.
The ruling is another reflection of outdated thinking about the employee-employer relationship. Digital platforms and apps are reinventing the intersection of supply and demand. This change may have skyrocketed with ride- and home-sharing, but we will soon use these systems for all types of services, from parents finding Little League batting coaches for their kids, to truckers picking up extra loads on their routes.
These new platforms are creating profound change. Over the last 40 years we’ve gone from a workforce where an employee had two or three employers over his or her lifetime to workers now switching careers regularly and even scaling by hiring their own employees along the way…