News Center

New FCC Commissioners a Breath of Fresh Air

Mike Montgomery

It usually takes fresh thinking to bring about positive changes in government, and sometimes it takes fresh faces.  We had a great example of that in Silicon Valley last week as Jessica Rosenworcel and Ajit Pai, the two new Commissioners at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), visited with a coalition of technology business leaders to discuss ways to foster innovation and economic growth in tech industries, particularly telecommunications.

What made this visit so refreshing is that it involved two senior regulators going to Silicon Valley to listen to entrepreneurs and innovators and better understand the needs of the high-tech community. To make business work and to keep entrepreneurs innovating, the right business environment must be in place – an environment that promotes and accelerates the invention and application of new devices and technologies.  The FCC is key to helping establish an environment that promotes regulatory certainty to enable growth and innovation throughout the entire telecom ecosystem.

In recent speeches and statements, both of these Commissioners have addressed the need for quicker decision making by the FCC and leadership to advance infrastructure investment throughout the industry.  For example, Commissioner Pai recently stated that “the FCC should be as nimble as the industry we oversee”, he said the FCC should ensure that it isn’t a barrier to investment and innovation – by making well thought out but quicker decisions in order to spur broadband investment, facilitate growth and create jobs in telecom.

Commissioner Rosenworcel acknowledged during her visit, how the high tech sector promotes innovation with speed and alacrity.  After meeting with industry leaders, Commissioner Rosenworcel noted that “[t]he digital economy is growing fast and there are lessons to learn from its energy.”  Technology changes rapidly – new devices are invented, new applications are created, new services are brought online and new opportunities enrich consumers’ lives.

To keep our high tech sector growing and innovating, the nation’s policymakers should ensure that we eliminate unnecessary and burdensome barriers that innovators and entrepreneurs face when deciding to invest and deploy in the next generation of facilities, services and applications.  In order to continue our leadership role in the deployment of advanced broadband services, the high tech sector needs regulatory certainty, and quick FCC decision making.  A strong, bipartisan approach will be needed to set the right policies for our high tech economy to thrive.  Fortunately for the FCC, two Commissioners last week took the time to witness what is needed first hand and to listen to the experts — and who came back to DC showing that they understand the needs of our Nation’s high tech community.

We look forward to new and exciting prospects for consumers in technology, and we look forward to the continued great work of Commissioners Pai and Rosenworcel.

If You Care About Our Wireless Future, Here’s A Recommendation for Summer Reading

It’s August, and much of official Washington soon will be heading to the beaches and mountains to get away from the heat and humidity here in town.  I hope that telecommunications and technology policy makers will take with them one suggested piece of excellent Summer reading.  The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) released a report last month that should be mandatory reading for anyone involved in helping to set the course of our nation’s technological future.  The report, “Powering the Mobile Revolution:  Principles of Spectrum Allocation” sounds like pretty dry reading, and, candidly, much of it is.  But it also is essential reading if you want a good understanding of what America needs to do to and, as importantly, must not do if we are secure our nation’s wireless future.

Here’s the deal.  We have known for years that continued innovation and investment in wireless technologies will require more spectrum.  The FCC’s National Broadband Plan released more than two years ago noted that the United States would confront a “looming spectrum crunch” unless 500 MHz of additional spectrum is found in the next ten years.  We also know that the most likely, in fact the only feasible, source of additional spectrum is from Federal licensees.  Over the past two plus years we have made virtually no progress in identifying Federal users who might be moved from the spectrum they occupy or bands that might be migrated to private sector commercial or non-commercial use.

Read the Full Article at TheDailyIrv.

Mike Montgomery: Your tacos depend on wireless access

There’s a basic recipe behind the rolling success of food trucks in California: hard times, hot food and a generous sprinkling of wireless technology.

Opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant has always been a high-risk, high-overhead venture. It became even more so as tough times and tight money followed the economic downturn. But with the low overhead and limited capital needed to operate a food truck, budding restaurateurs took a second look at mobile food operations. The recent booming success of food trucks is the latest prime example of how entrepreneurs and small businesses are using reliable wireless connectivity and the ever-growing menu of wireless gadgets to innovate and compete with their larger rivals. If you want a taste of the haute mobile cuisine scene, just hop in your car. You can’t miss it.

Read the Full Article.

Time to invest in much-needed mobile infrastructure

By Mike Montgomery

Isn’t life quite a bit easier with apps on your phone and fast Internet connections? Broadband-high-speed Internet-has become a crucial tool for rural and urban residents alike.

Turlock is no stranger to the benefits of increased access to high-speed Internet. In Stanislaus County, broadband lets people join meetings in Los Angeles, take online calculus classes through the University of California, and enables veterans to consult with specialists through telemedicine at the VA’s Modesto Clinic. Want to renew your library book at the Stanislaus County Library? No problem. There’s an app for that, too.

Seventy percent of Central Valley residents now report that they have broadband at home, compared to 53 percent in 2008, according to Public Policy Institute of California. While this percentage trails the rates of other metropolitan regions of the state such as San Francisco and San Diego, the Central Valley has made significant strides in broadband adoption.

Read the Full Article.

CALinnovates Applauds Congressional Vote for Bono Mack Resoultion

For Immediate Release:
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Mike Montgomery
(415) 494-8626

CALinnovates Applauds Congressional Vote for Bono Mack Resolution Opposing International Governance of the Internet

Coalition says Bono Mack’s warning to UN on Internet regulation has parallel in California

SAN FRANCISCO—Today, CALinnovates commends California Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack’s leadership and Congress’s action to support a hands-off-the-Internet resolution. The House Energy and Commerce Committee passed H. Con. Res. 127, introduced by Bono Mack, by bipartisan, unanimous vote on June 20.Bono Mack’s resolution is aimed at the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the telecom regulatory entity of the United Nations. CALinnovates observed that the resolution is in the same spirit of California’s SB 1161, which aims to keep the Internet free of regulation. The California State Senate passed SB 1161 and the legislation is now before the State Assembly. In a statement released today, CALinnovates Executive Director Mike Montgomery said:

“International entities are ready to take a run at imposing control over worldwide Internet services and infrastructure. Allowing this overreach would blunt the innovative freedom that has been central to the Internet industry’s evolution. Freedom and online innovation have led to tremendous consumer benefits, job creation and economic growth.”

Montgomery added, “CALinnovates supports policies that ensure the full benefits of the high-tech sector are realized in California and we believe that policies that encourage growth, investment, and competition are just as critical in the international arena as they are in California. In California and worldwide, consumers deserve the opportunities for more choices and access to the benefits of new technology and innovators need the freedom to innovate. That is why here in California we oppose policies that impose unnecessary regulations on Internet-based services that would undermine investment and job creation in our state.”

“We continue to support SB 1161 that reassures high-tech innovators, consumers, and investors that California’s government will preserve a free and open Internet. By the same measure, we join Rep. Bono Mack in support of keeping international government entities out of the business of the Internet and continuing to encourage the investment and innovation that benefits all worldwide.”


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

Staying Connected: A Runner’s Perspective

If you run or bike while listening to music and want to keep your eyes on the road, the smartphone is your friend.  An iPod is great, but it doesn’t give you the variety a smartphone offers.  Today, we don’t really need to carry multiple single-use devices.  Today’s smartphones incorporate many of the following standard-use items:

  • Phones
  • Music Players
  • Televisions
  • Computers
  • Flashlights
  • Cameras
  • Phone Books
  • Maps
  • Newspapers

Of course, not every item is necessary if you’re training for a marathon like our interviewee is here, but why carry more than one device if you’ve got to carry anything at all?

See our interview with Lauren, a marathon runner who uses her iPhone during long practice runs.

Member Update: Innovation, Apps and Education

Member Update May 15, 2012

In this Issue:In Case You Missed It

What We’ve Been Up To


Interview with Richard Bloom

Would You Give Up Your Smartphone?

Follow CALinnovates

Interview with Richard Bloom:

“California is the center of the innovative world…this is what’s going to bring us jobs and propel California into the future” –Richard Bloom, Mayor of Santa Monica

Would You Give Up Your Smartphone?


Stay connected with CALinnovates!

Follow us on Twitter: @CALinnovates

“Like” us on Facebook:

“Watch” us on YouTube:

In Case You Missed It:


New Jersey Senator Lautenberg introduces the “America Innovates Act” to spur the growth of high tech jobs. This bill establishes an “American Innovation Bank” to provide universities, researchers, and private companies with the resources necessary to turn discoveries into products that will attract private investment and create jobs. In addition, the bill expands existing fellowship programs so students can perform research in local companies. Sen. Lautenberg is becoming a big player in the innovation space, having recently hosted an event featuring David Calabrese, the CEO of Bleacher League and an active member of CALinnovates.

According to a study done by Dr. Michael Mandel on the “App Economy,” nearly 500,000 jobs were created since the release of the iPhone in 2007. In a recent speech, FCC Chairman Genachowski praised these efforts but noted that it is critical that we drive this progress forward with ubiquitous broadband access and a strong framework to preserve Internet Freedom.

What We’ve Been Up To:…

CALinnovates surveyed students on the UCLA Campus about what they’d give up for a year before they gave up their smartphone. The following are a sampling of some of the most unique responses:

  • Driving
  • In n’ Out
  • Girlfriend
  • Smoking
  • Air

Check out some of the highlights from our video interviews this month. Full interviews are available on our website.


Move over Harvard and MIT. Two Stanford professors recently proposed to “flip” classrooms: students review YouTube lectures at home and solve problems alongside professors in the classroom…

According to Akamai’s “State of the Internet” Survey, California ranked 9th among states that have increased broadband speeds over the last quarter…

here’s the next big app from the creators of “Angry Birds.” One hit wonder or not?


Do you have a favorite app that you use? Tweet us @CALinnovates for a chance to be featured on our website!


Survey: What would you give up for a year before you’d give up your smartphone?

Let’s face it—we all need our smartphones.  Not only are they essential for communication, but for the all the other apps that we rely on every day.  Google maps to get us where we need to be, iCal for those meeting reminders, and of course Angry Birds to provide us with that much needed distraction from what we’re REALLY supposed to be doing.  We wanted to find out just how attached people are to their smartphones.  CALinnovates went to UCLA to ask people what they’d be willing to give up for a year before they gave up their smartphone.  Here’s what they had to say:

Interview with Rick Marini, CEO of BranchOut

Interview with Rick Marini, CEO, BranchOut

CALinnovates sits down with CEO Rick Marini of BranchOut. Before he founded BranchOut, Rick was the founder & CEO of SuperFan, a social entertainment platform that developed social games and Facebook apps.  Before SuperFan, Rick was the Co-Founder and Chief Strategist of Tickle, one of the largest social media sites on the Internet.  

CALinnovates: What’s the first piece of technology you can remember using?

Rick: I still remember playing Space Invaders and Kombat with my Dad on the Atari in 1980. Good times.

CALinnovates: Did you use any type of technology to apply to your first job? How has the process changed?

Rick: My first job out of University of New Hampshire was in 1994 and it was an on-campus interview. The only technology piece was getting a phone call to tell me I

got the job. Now, with services like BranchOut, you can identify all of your connections before a potential employer even sets foot on campus.

CALinnovates: How has innovation in the social media sphere changed your work as a tech entrepreneur?

Rick: BranchOut is an application on the Facebook Platform, so we need to move as quickly as Facebook to keep up with them. Facebook has a motto, “Move Fast and Break Things” and we operate similarly at BranchOut. We have to be extremely efficient and focus on quality as we build our product. We’re constantly trying to keep up with a fast internal speed of innovation but also with the external speed of Facebook.

CALinnovates: What is BranchOut?

Rick: BranchOut is the largest professional networking application on Facebook with more than 25 million registered users and over 400 million professional profiles. We have grown from 400,000 monthly active users in December 2011 to more than 13 million monthly active users in mid-April of this year.  BranchOut allows users in more than 200 countries to leverage their Facebook friend network to find jobs, recruit talent, and strengthen relationships with professional contacts.

CALinnovates: What did you learn about people through that you’ve applied to BranchOut?

Rick: I learned that there are four attributes I look for: people who are intelligent, fun, have a lot of integrity, and are entrepreneurial. Those attributes were displayed by the best people at Tickle and I’ve tried to recruit talent around those qualities at BranchOut.

CALinnovates: How important is spectrum to the success of your mobile platform and what happens if the crunch becomes a reality?

Rick: We’re seeing tremendous growth from our global audience as well as from our mobile users.  BranchOut’s growth in mobile has blown away my expectations. We went from nothing in November 2011 to more than 40 percent of our traffic coming from mobile in roughly 90 days. BranchOut is now tapping into Facebook’s 350 million mobile users. We have about 350,000 mobile users every day on BranchOut. We see huge growth opp in mobile so we keep up to speed on issues around spectrum allocations. But right now we’re heads down on focusing on user experience.

CALinnovates: What’s the craziest thing you ever did in college?

Rick: Senior year trip to Cancun, I went bungee jumping in Mexico. It now seems crazier than I realized at the time since there were pretty much no regulations. Glad I survived! :)

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