Showing posts with label Steve Jobs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Steve Jobs. Show all posts

Sunday, August 04, 2019

Microsoft Inspire 2019 Corenote With Satya Nadella

Steve Jobs had a second act at Apple. Bill Gates did not. He had Satya Nadella. It was easier for Steve Jobs to give his second act. For Satya Nadella to come up with the second act is harder, and thus more impressive. Bill Gates was still sending those memos when Steve Ballmer was CEO, and Microsoft missed out on the smartphone completely.

Satya's superpower is his feel for corporate culture. He could teach Bill G a lesson or two. Satya is the antithesis of the nasty Founder CEO aura that is rightly or wrongly credited to/blamed upon Steve Jobs. Satya has proven you can be a nice, humble, empathetic, never angry CEO and create a trillion-dollar company. In fact, he has proven, that is the only way to do it.

And it's not just humility. Satya lays out the vision with such immense clarity, and with such precision; only an impressive intellect can do that. He distills. He forages. He pollinates. He crisscrosses. He wanders around. He picks and chooses. He speaks. He lays it down.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Elizabeth Holmes: Fraud? Failure? Non-Technical Visionary? First Attempt?

Elon Musk hit speed bumps with the SEC, and Elon Musk fans think he is a hero.

I never really read much about Elizabeth Holmes during the decade when she was ascendant, although I meant to. It was interesting a woman was doing it. Also, this was not some photo sharing app. She was marrying bio with infotech. I thought that was really something.

There's a picture of Holmes sharing stage with Bill Clinton and Jack Ma. If that is not social acceptance, what is? She put Henry Kissinger on her Board. She raised money from Larry Ellison, not my idea of a gullible guy. Tim Draper still defends her as a visionary who got wronged and got bullied by white men in black suits.

What happened? I don't know. I am not in a position to know.

But think about it. There is as much information in one drop of blood as in 100 drops of blood. And it should be possible to extract all information from that one drop of blood and to digitize it. And once you have digitized it, you should be able to scale it. Whether you look for cholesterol one time, or next time you look for another needle in that haystack, there is no difference. You can do it.

The basic premise feels doable to me. Somebody should be able to do it in less than 10 years from now. Too bad it was not Elizabeth Holmes.

Otherwise she attempted something Marissa Mayer did not, Sheryl Sandberg did not.

She was not the scientist who built what needed to be built. She started with a vision. She raised a lot of money. She hired the best of the best. She did all that an entrepreneur is expected to do.

If she is a fraud, she is a really good fraud. The movie on her should beat Catch Me If You Can at the ratings.

But then Steve Jobs, her hero, could not have put together the PC. It was the engineer Steve Wozniak who did that. On the other hand, there was no way Woz could have built a company. And very soon Apple did hire a ton of engineers such that when Woz left to teach elementary school, Apple did not exactly suffer.

So not being a scientist is not a fraud.

Bill Gates came up with something like an iPad in the late 90s. But the product did not take off. Was he a fraud? Was he ahead of the times?

This is not me defending Holmes. This is me asking some questions.

You could not have built YouTube in 1995. Maybe this Theranos experiment was a decade too early.

Being in stealth mode is not fraud either. The iPhone was built in super stealth mode. Theranos being in stealth mode for 10 years, is that too long though? I don't know. The iPhone unit stayed undercover for something like two years, maybe more.

The media did a remarkable job of building her up for over a decade. Then it spent a few years tearing apart her image. So the media reports are not reliable gauges.

Was this failure? Was this fraud? Was this an attempt too early? Like trying to build YouTube in 1995? 10 years too early?

Holmes did manage to articulate a valid vision. She did manage to raise money from people like Larry Ellison, who does not strike me as gullible. She did manage to put Henry Kissinger on her Board. That guy dealt with Chairman Mao. She did manage to hire the best of the best in the field.

Google has had hundreds of failures many of which you don't know about.

Granted a photo-sharing app is different from a blood testing tool.

Maybe a PhD is not such a bad idea after all.

Or, more likely, the scientists that would bring the valid vision to fruition simply have not existed. You can't find those PhDs that you need. They don't exist.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Could Steve Jobs Have Made A Difference At Apple in 2020?

This is one of those what-ifs. There is Larry Ellison, the colorful Founder CEO of Oracle, best friend to Steve Jobs for 25 years, who will have you believe Steve Jobs was Steve Jobs. Tim Cook can not wear the shoes. It is true Apple has since only been milking what was already built. They are still milking the iPhone and the iPad.

It is said Steve Jobs was thinking about tackling the TV next. If you go from the PC to the iPod-iPhone-iPad, it is a paradigm shift from the GUI (Graphical User Interface) to the touch screen. But do you really want to touch your TV? TV was and is a harder nut to crack. The innovation perhaps is not on the screen. It is in how content is created and distributed. Netflix, and YouTube and Amazon are tackling some of it.

It is true Steve Jobs managed to be a pioneer for both GUI and the touch screen. But what's next? Obviously we are looking beyond touch. They talk of NUI, Natural User Interface. Voice commands. Gesture, things like that. Computing is so seamlessly integrated to the natural environment around you, you simply speak to it, or you wave at it.

Could Steve Jobs have tackled it? It is not like you are saying, Steve Jobs grew up speaking English, could he have beat the Chinese at Mandarin? Steve Jobs would not have been handicapped by the NUI. But it might have been hard for the same person to also be the pioneer for that third paradigm. It is remarkable enough that one person became the master of two paradigms. Three? Three would have been a lot. But it was possible.

Steve Jobs' Apple had almost a hundred billion dollars in the bank. Jobs liked to say he liked to keep his gunpowder dry, in case something showed up. Perhaps things like VR and AR are more capital intensive. Perhaps not.

It is conceivable Apple under Steve Jobs might have also been a leader in this next emerging paradigm, the paradigm of the Natural User Interface. Tim Cook is already missing out. Tim Cook is more like Steve Ballmer. Ballmer kept showing crazy good numbers. But he totally missed out on the smartphone. Cook is similarly showing pretty good numbers. But it is Google and Amazon that are Hey Google! and Hello Alexa!

VR is going to be amazingly democratizing. Before VR you have bought a TV for hudreds of dollars. In a VR headset, a TV is maybe a one dollar app. Suddenly a dollar a day people might be looking at high end TV. And it can be a tremendous educational tool. Super-customized education.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Steve Wozniak: The Bomb

The story about the kid arrested for making a clock takes me back to high school in 1967. I built an electronic...

Posted by Woz on Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Middle Age

English: Steve Jobs shows off the white iPhone...
English: Steve Jobs shows off the white iPhone 4 at the 2010 Worldwide Developers Conference Español: Presentación del iPhone 4 por Steve Jobs en la Worldwide Developers Conference del año 2010 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why middle-aged entrepreneurs will be critical to the next trillion-dollar business
Steve Jobs was 52 when he announced the iPhone. That was in 2007. Years later, the Apple cofounder introduced the MacBook Air, App Store, and iPad. Tim Cook, who was 51 when he took over from Jobs, is building on his legacy. They both shattered a myth that the young rule the technology industry. ........ Research on successful technology firms by a team I led at Duke and Harvard in 2008 looked only at companies that had made it out of the garage and were generating at least $1 million in revenue. The research revealed that the average and median age of their founders was 39. Twice as many were older than 50 as were younger than 25. And twice as many were older than 60 as were younger than 20. In a follow-up project, we studied the backgrounds of 549 successful entrepreneurs in 12 high-growth industries. The average and median age of male founders in this group was 40, and a significant proportion were older than 50. ...... in every year from 1996 to 2013, Americans in the 55-to-64 age group started new businesses at a higher rate than those in their twenties and thirties. And the trend is building. Those ages 55 to 64 started 14 percent of all new businesses in 1996 but nearly 24 percent of them in 2013. ...... What makes entrepreneurs successful, as my team’s research revealed, is work and industry experience and management ability. These come with age. ..... The inexperience — and immaturity — of youth is one reason venture capitalists’ track record is so poor. In 2012, the Kauffman Foundation analyzed 20 years of investment data from nearly 100 venture funds. It found that the vast majority of them produced lower returns than did the public markets. ........ The experiment by Thiel to pay college students to drop out did not result in any world-changing startups. Most Thiel fellows joined other companies or went back to school. The Thiel Foundation quietly redesigned its program, which now provides an alternative education to children. Perhaps the realization set in that the innovation advantage isn’t provided by youth, but by knowledge, maturity, experience, and connections......... the average age at which Nobel laureates performed their prizewinning work and the average age at which inventors had their great achievement was 39. He also found that twice as many — 14 percent — were older than 50 as were younger than 26. Jones found that the average age of innovators is steadily rising, with the average age of greatest achievement for Nobel Prize winners and great tech inventors having increased six years, to 45, in the 20th century. ......... It also is easier to write code for a cellphone than to learn how to motivate and inspire employees, manage finances, and market products. But building a business requires all of those skills. That is why older entrepreneurs have more success. ...... A technology shift is happening that will dramatically alter the entrepreneurial landscape in the next few years. Several technologies — involving medicine, robotics, artificial intelligence, synthetic biology, 3D printing, and nanomaterials — are advancing at exponential rates and are converging. This is the same type of advance that is occurring with computers — with processing power doubling every 18 months, prices falling, and devices becoming smaller. A $500 laptop today has more computing power than did a Cray 2 supercomputer that cost $17.5 million in 1985 and had to be housed in a large building. ........ These advances are making it possible to solve the global problems of health, energy, education, and hunger. Inexpensive sensor-based devices, for example, allow the continual measurement of heart rate, temperature, movement, pressure and light. They can be used to build devices that keep track of blood pressure, glucose and blood oxygen levels, respiration and even sleeping habits. They also can be used to improve agriculture, monitor the environment and reduce food spoilage. Systems based on artificial intelligence can be used to make medical diagnoses, to drive autonomous cars, and to predict traffic patterns, crime and trends. Robotic devices will allow us to care for the elderly and automate routine processes. Digital tutors will be able to transform education. .......... These technologies will make it possible to create the next trillion-dollar industries and to better our lives. But they require knowledge of fields such as medicine, biotechnology, engineering, and nanotechnology. They require experience, an understanding of the problems people face, and cross-disciplinary skills. All of these come with age and experience, which middle-aged entrepreneurs have in abundance. That is why we need to get beyond the stereotypes and realize that

older entrepreneurs are going to better the world


Friday, May 01, 2015

Musk Magic

I have never bought an Apple product in my lifetime. I do appreciate Steve Jobs' excellence. But he did not directly touch me. Elon Musk is a whole different story. I am looking at this guy's battery and I am thinking, this battery could do for energy for the dollar a day people what cellphones have done for communication. And lack of energy is easily the number one reason for poverty. The first computers also cost thousands of dollars. But now you can get a Chromebook (an idea Google stole from me -- I pitched to Google Ventures, bad idea) for 200 dollars. This battery needs to go down in price from 3500 dollars to 350 dollars. You can light up hospitals and schools across the world with this. Kudos Elon!

I actually was one of the first users of --- but I did not hear about Elon Musk until at least 10 years later. Actually I heard of Peter Thiel before I heard of Musk. And I never connected with Thiel at any level.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Jack Ma And Elon Musk

Jack Ma and Elon Musk are the two most exciting entrepreneurs on the planet right now. They come from two different ends. Jack Ma is coming from the China end, the Third World end, the Global South end. Elon Musk is coming from the rich country end where he is going to beat the bullet train and go to Mars, and what have you.

Elon Musk is more exciting than Larry Page right now. As to why Larry Page will not sink 20 billion into taking every human being online TODAY beats me! Google's search advantage will not last forever. And so it needs to cash it now, today.

If the smartwatch takes off, Tim Cook will have proven himself. And Steve Jobs will have proven himself. Jobs liked to say the most important thing he built is the company Apple itself, not the Mac, not the iPhone. Although I am not convinced the smartwatch alone can take Apple to being a trillion dollar company. I am on record saying that company is Google. But Larry Page has been a partially absent CEO. A CEO needs to be seen, needs to be heard, like Marissa Mayer was visible when she was with Google. Most of your talk is consumed internally, even when they are publicly made. People inside your company are watching.

But then I was not excited about the iPad when it came along. I am an active user. I don't passively read. I was like, no keyboard? Get out of here. But the iPad has been a monumental product. Right now I feel like the smartwatch is not for me. Just give me a phone with a battery that lasts twice as long. And I am happy. I actually like not having something around my wrist. I like that sense of freedom. My phone is my watch. And it is a smart one too. It is not for me, that does not mean it is not for other people. I will wait and watch.

Right now I am thinking the smartwatch is Apple's Google Glass. It will not die, but it will not go mainstream.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Third Time Watching: Vinod, Larry, Sergey

I am watching this video for the third time now, the second time today. These just so happen to be three of the most fascinating people in tech.

The Google Guys seem to have some First World Problems. The world is nowhere close to an age of abundance. Maybe by 2050 if we get our act together. But now? No way.

Google failed at health, when it first tried. But I hope it is not done. If it can do to health what it is trying to do to transportation, that would be monumental.

Larry saying something about the government being illogical about spectrum. I feel that way strongly about immigration. And quite a few other things.

If being a CEO is about photogenics, Sergei is better media feed than Larry. There's ethics, there's photogenics. But Larry is awesome. In terms of sheer impact, Steve Jobs has nothing on Larry Page.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Microsoft’s New Indian Face

In case you did not notice, Microsoft now has a black Chairperson and an Indian CEO, and Bill Gates will now be reporting to Satya Nadella three days a week. Bill is back! Someday Sundar Pichai might end up CEO of Google, and Bobby Jindal might end up President Of The United States. And Nitish might wipe out poverty from India. And Jayalalita might help architect genuine federalism for the Tamils in Sri Lanka. And India is already on its way to Mars. Jupiter is not far.

Amitabh is the most recognized face on the planet. 

Bill Gates is the ultimate Maoist, if you ask me. I only got to “know” the guy after he launched his global war on poverty. Computers only became interesting to me because of the Internet, and Bill was a PC guy. My company to love is Google.

My tribute to Satya Nadella was a blog post An Opening For Microsoft: Supercheap Smartphones.

I think the biggest new opening for Microsoft to get back on the tech map is for it to cash on its Nokia acquisition and a CEO who grew up in India, a country that has more poor people than any other, and to offer the cheapest smartphones across the Global South. That steep price gradient is the only hope Microsoft might have to become a significant third force in the mobile space where Android is the new Windows. If it were to move fast enough I think there is a slim chance that Microsoft might end up with Apple like global market shares.

The large number of Android manufacturers are tough competition though. Android is free. And those hardware makers are doing their best to offer cheap phones. But I have a feeling Nokia knows a thing or two about cheap.

And to think Nadella is not an IIT guy. He claims pretty much everything he learned about leadership and teams he learned playing cricket. That is a true Indian! This is no lost Desi. He is true to the roots.

If India were the Al Qaeda the recent humiliation of the Indian diplomat would have ignited a call for jihad. That organization has a simplistic two dimensional cartoon idea of what America is. It is a large, complex country that can also put Nadella on the top. For every Nadella there is also a Pichai, waiting in the wings, ready to take over.

I think Bill Gates’ comeback cannot be overlooked. That is a big story in its own right. Gates will still give the majority of his time to his foundation, and I think that is awesome because I am a huge fan of his foundation. But this time away from Microsoft has been good for him. He now has new, global, non-Microsoft perspectives. This is not a Personal Computer world we live in, not anymore. But then he was thinking tablets a full half decade before Steve Jobs, only Gates’ tablet had an accompanying pen, and it never took off, not even inside Microsoft. So don’t think the guy is behind.

How would you design super cheap smartphones? I say, ask Nokia. But smartphones are no good without data. How do you bring wireless broadband to vast swaths of the Global South (that is like saying African American) also known as the Third World (that is nigger)? Google is throwing balloons up into the upper parts of the atmosphere. Microsoft might try satellites and cheap antennas on the ground. My point being, it’s got to compete in the space of taking internet to the masses, the left out billions. A smartphone with internet access is the 21st century voting right. If you don’t have it, you are disenfranchised.

So imagine a $20 Nokia smartphone that someone in Darbhanga, Bihar, buys on the roadside, that immediately connects to wireless broadband beamed down by a Microsoft satellite for free. The phone runs Windows Mobile, which is free. It has the Bing search engine by default, and Hotmail Mobile, and Office Mobile. And Skype comes preloaded. And every Skype account gets a free phone number too. As in, calls are free. Skype gives you unlimited free SMS. And of course the keyboard can be in English or Hindi.

How does Microsoft make money? $20 for the phone, and ads served on the phone through the various services. Ads that are super relevant, because your usage of the phone builds a rich profile of you at some Microsoft data center. And Microsoft ends up rich, and we all end up happy.

This part is obvious. Steve Jobs gave us the Graphical User Interface, or the mouse. He stole it from Xerox, but then Picasso was also known to steal. Jobs also gave us the touch interface. But I think Microsoft gave us the next big thing before Jobs gave us the touch. Gestures are more natural than touch. And Microsoft’s Kinect is master of the gesture universe.

There is something called the Natural User Interface. I think there is so much more Microsoft could do in that space.

Supercheap smartphones with the accompanying wireless broadband and the Natural User Interface fully scaled together can easily take Microsoft past a 500 billion valuation. And Nadella could stay busy for a decade. And that is enough time before another Indian takes over. Maybe Pichai? And Vivek Wadhwa perhaps is Mayor of Silicon Valley by then, or is it Vinod Khosla? Khosla is already Dean.

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Google And Hardware

Image representing Larry Page as depicted in C...
Image via CrunchBase
Google has been a software company. The king of search sits at the center of all things web. I love Google like some people love Apple. When it first came out I remember embedding the Google search engine on my personal homepage which was hosted on Yahoo’s hot domain Geocities, by now defunct. I have watched it as it has grown. It has been amazing to me that although Google has become big, like really big, it has not stopped innovating. When small innovative companies become big, they slow down. But when Google became big it just started innovating at large scales, it simply started tackling large problems that only the resourceful can.

Social came after search and it can be argued Facebook got that one. But mobile came after social and Google’s Android rules the roost. Big Data is widely perceived as one of the next big things and Google seems well positioned for that phase as well. Robotics is all the rage and Google is making acquisitions left and right.

We have all heard of driverless cars and Google Glass. The Glass is already here, the car is only a few years away. One thing you notice real quick is the dominant software company in the world – used to be Microsoft in the Windows era – is fast becoming a hardware company.

Only a few years back Google was so adamant about staying away from hardware that when it felt vendors were not doing right by its smartphone concept, it brought forth the Nexus line of phones but under the aegis of outside vendors. Even the acquisition of the phone company Motorola was a compulsion. Google really wanted the patents Motorola had to dig in with Android that was being attacked on all sides, primarily by Apple. I never thought Steve Jobs had a case. You can’t copyright the Personal Computer concept, and you can’t copyright the smartphone concept.

But by now the reluctance is gone and Google is unabashed about being a hardware company. What happened? I think what happened was it is not like Google one day decided to give Dell a run for the money and started building PCs as well. What happened was smartness caught up with hardware. Minus the smartness hardware was pretty much junk to Google. But with the smarts every inch of hardware can feel like software. It is the difference between a tongue and a thumb. The tongue, it can be argued, is smart, it is sensitive.

Just like Big Data is right round the corner, the Internet Of Things is right round the corner. And that Internet Of Things is all about smart hardware. Your smoke alarm is smart, your refrigerator is smart, your garage door is smart, your toaster is smart, your car sure is smart. You end up with a smart home. You know the difference between a dumb phone and a smart phone. Extrapolate that and you get the idea. Your home currently is a dumb home.

It is not a sure thing that Google will dominate the next big things like it has dominated search and mobile. But it sure has a clear shot at it. It is poised to be one of the dominant names in both Big Data and the Internet Of Things. As to if will be the top name, the dominant name, that question is up in the air. It is usually extremely hard for the company that dominated one phase of innovation to also dominate the next one. Microsoft dominated the PC, but it did not go on to dominate the web.

It is amazing to me that Larry Page is no Steve Jobs. Larry Page hardly ever makes news, but Google is in the news on a daily basis. Steve Jobs was a dominant personality made for the media. Page stays in the background. But Page’s footprint will likely end up larger at the end of the day, perhaps substantially larger. I think Apple’s best days are behind it, but Google just might end up becoming the world’s first trillion dollar company. But if it does, it will have to hit that mark before 2020. It not, it will have missed it.

That is an interesting proposition because we are living through a time when the relationship between the state and the individual is being redefined. Companies like Google are all about empowering the individual all over the world. All Google users are global citizens at some level, to some degree.

Steve Jobs of course started out his journey saying you have to do both software and hardware. He was proven wrong as Microsoft took the lead by being a purely software company. And then he was proven right as Apple overtook Microsoft in market value on the strength of its iPhone sales. Perhaps the PC was not the right vehicle for the vision. Only a smartphone accorded that fusion.

Robotics should move from the science fiction space to our living rooms in a few short years. Amazon wants to deliver your orders with drones that will fly from their warehouses to our front yards. Giants like Google and Amazon are already competing in that robotics space.

So, yes, the number one software company in the world, Google, now is working to become also the top hardware company in the world. Where does that put Samsung?
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