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How a Cute ‘Star Wars’ Robot is Leading a Toy Industry Revolution

By: Mike Montgomery

One of the hottest toys on the market this Christmas isn’t a toy at all — at least, that’s what Sphero CEO Paul Berberian would like you to think. For years, Berberian resisted using the word “toy” when referring to his company’s rolling robots, which users can control through apps on their smartphones. But now he’s sheepishly giving in. That’s what happens when you have a massive hit.

The Sphero BB-8 is flying off the shelves. The $150 toy is based on a droid in the new Star Wars movie. BB-8 can patrol a room, figuring out the contours of every obstacle. He can dance and peek around corners. Most amazingly of all, his head stays in place as his body rolls along the floor.

“A toy is something you sell as plastic by the pound,” Berberian says from his company’s headquarters in Boulder, Colorado. “It devolved from something that inspired kids to something aimed at younger and younger kids.”

Read the full article here.

The Hill – Time For Hollywood and Silicon Valley to stop fighting over copyright

(This article ran in the TheHill.com on December 3, 2015)

By: Mike Montgomery

Recently, the idea of felony streaming once again reared its ugly head. Making streaming copyright infringement a felony is a terrible idea and an example of backward thinking that creates further rifts between tech and entertainment at a time when these two sectors are not only reliant upon one another, but melding. As some may recall, this kind of backward thinking famously and furiously failed before when it was a key part of the ill-conceived effort known as SOPA-PIPA (Stop Internet Piracy Act / Protect IP Act). So strong was the backlash against these would-be laws and their breathtaking overreach, to this day, the term “SOPA-PIPA” sends chills down the spines of lawmakers.

And rightly so.  When it was first proposed in 2011, millions of Internet users demanded it be shut down. YouTubers, on the forefront of the new entertainment industry, worried that uploading images of video games or parts of songs could suddenly land them in jail. Wikipedia, Google and an estimated 7,000 other websites coordinated a day-long service blackout in protest against the bill. One petition drive attracted seven million signatures. Companies and organizations that supported the legislation were boycotted. Even the White House’s Senior Intellectual Property Enforcement official at the time, responding to a We The People Petition against the legislation, vowed to oppose any legislation that would chill innovation and free expression. Much to the relief of many lawmakers, the bill was quietly set aside.

Read the full article here.

Techwire.net – Rajan: The ‘Sharing Economy’ Is Here to Stay (Opinion)

By: Kish Rajan

I recently was a guest on a cable news show to discuss politicians’ attitudes toward companies like Uber, Airbnb and TaskRabbit. On this occasion, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes got particularly heated when I brought up the “sharing economy.” He shot back, insisting the name is misleading: “No one’s sharing anything. People are just selling things a different way,” he said.

Hayes isn’t the first person to make this claim, and I don’t completely disagree with his semantics. But I prefer to use the term “personal enterprise economy” to describe the new paradigm. Why? The substantive criticism is that rideshare drivers and home share hosts aren’t sharing their assets; in reality, they’re selling them. Point conceded, happily.

It’s called entrepreneurship, and that’s why this new personal enterprise economy is so exciting. Powerful new technology platforms are empowering regular people to become the CEOs of their own enterprises — marketing and selling their assets and talents to a global marketplace heretofore out of reach to the average person. Until now, global markets were the exclusive domain of companies with the resources and capacity to reach those markets. Technology is transforming that, opening up a new world of opportunity to everyday people. See the marketing consultant in Los Angeles using video conferencing to sell her services in Beijing. Consider the baker in Fresno selling his cookies to the customer in Brazil.

Read the full article here.

Forbes – How Laurene Powell Jobs’ XQ Institute Is Inspiring Entrepreneurs To Help Fix America’s High Schools

(This article ran on Forbes.com on December 1, 2015.)

By: Mike Montgomery

It’s pretty clear that our high schools are almost hopelessly broken. In math and science, the United States scores below countries like Slovenia and New Zealand. But the question of how to fix our schools is a thorny one.

Big government programs, like No Child Left Behind and the Common Core, aren’t moving the needle. Charter schools and voucher programs might seem like panaceas, but too often they leave the neediest students behind. And faced with unmoving bureaucracies and entrenched unions many innovative educators simply throw their hands up in frustration and move to more welcoming fields.

Laurene Powell Jobs, Steve Jobs’ widow, thinks there’s another way…

Read the full article here.

Forbes: The Drone Economy Moves Beyond Science Fiction

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.

Click here to read the full article.

Business News Daily – Big Data: What Does Your Business Really Need?

(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.”

Click here to read the full article.

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