Author: techno

The Middle East is fertile ground for esports

An esports tournament held in Dubai.

GUEST: When we talk about the geography of esports, many names spring to our mind: big supporting countries like South Korea, USA, Sweden and competitive titles with big international recognition like Counter-Strike: Go, Dota 2, and League of Legends. With increasing revenues, exciting new games, and institutions starting to adopt pro gaming in sch…Read More

Valve acquires Firewatch developer Campo Santo

Indie studio Campo Santo announced today that it’s joining Valve. Its 12-person team will be moving to Washington, and the acquisition will not affect its upcoming game In the Valley of Gods or ongoing support for its last title Firewatch. Campo Santo described the conversations it has had with the Valve team in a blog post: “Both sides…Read More

‘Minority Report’ adviser John Underkoffler ponders the user interfaces of the future

John Underkoffler is CEO of Oblong Industries, maker of

John Underkoffler is the CEO of Oblong Industries, and he is perhaps best known as the science advisor for the landmark sci-fi film Minority Report. Long before the body suit of Ready Player One, Underkoffler helped envision Minority Report’s scene where actor Tom Cruise uses “data gloves” and gesture controls to manipulate a transparent computer.…Read More

What we learned from Kanye West’s first week back on Twitter

Kanye West performing in Madison Square Garden

Whether you love the old Kanye, new Kanye, set-on-the-goals Kanye or chop-up-the-soul Kanye, it’s all in there.

Kanye West returned to Twitter last Friday (Apr. 13) after a nearly one year hiatus, and since then the rapper and fashion mogul has been tweeting at a rate of nearly ten tweets a day, dishing out philosophical advice about the struggle for authenticity alongside his own shameless self-promotion.

After being welcomed back on the platform by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, he started building up his own hype in true Kanye fashion, tweeting glimpses of new clothing and teasers about new music to his 12 million followers.

His most retweeted post so far, with more than 245,000 retweets and 514,000 likes, was when he revealed a date for an album drop — June 8 with rapper Kid Cudi.

But peppered into the business announcements, Kanye started dishing out philosophical truisms like this one about the performative nature of human experience.

He then announced that he’s actually writing a book “in real time” when he feels like it and that he’s going to be free from the pressures of any publisher:

And advice on how to retain your sense of self amidst pressure to conform to societal norms:

In other tweets, he sounds like a new-wave guru, extolling the virtue of those who can “shift the consciousness” to be in touch with their inner selves, and critiquing those who become “hard-core capitalist” valuing money over all.

Ironically though, while Kanye is tweeting about following crowds and critiquing capitalistic ambition, he is the smartest capitalist of all — satiating the public appetite for his musings after two years of living in relative obscurity following his very public breakdown, and drawing even more attention to his new business projects.

Well played, Kanye.

AT&T, Verizon face DOJ investigation for allegedly trying to lock eSIMs

Enlarge / Apple Watch Series 3, with eSIM technology for connecting to cellular networks. (credit: Apple)

AT&T and Verizon are being investigated by the Department of Justice (DOJ) over whether they colluded in order to prevent customers from easily switching carriers.

The antitrust investigation, reported by The New York Times yesterday, relates to the eSIM (embedded SIM) technology that is used instead of regular SIM cards in cellular-capable Apple Watches and other devices such as the Google Pixel 2. eSIMs are supposed to let customers switch carriers without changing to a different SIM card or device, but AT&T and Verizon are accused of “try[ing] to establish standards that would allow them to lock a device to their network even if it had eSIM technology,” the Times report said.

The DOJ began investigating about five months ago after complaints from Apple and an unidentified wireless carrier, the article said.

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Dennis ‘Thresh’ Fong on competitive gaming, then and now

Dennis Fong of (right) speaks with Ping Le of Accel at GamesBeat Summit.

Back when he was known as “Thresh,” Dennis Fong was the original professional gamer. He’s also the CEO of game video sharing site, and so he has decades of visibility into esports, which has become one of the hottest sectors of gaming. Market researcher Newzoo expects that global esports revenue will grow 38 percent to $9…Read More

Drool over Marvel Comics’ rarest original art, costumes at new museum exhibit

SEATTLE—As the Marvel Cinematic Universe expands to every movie theater in the world, the MoPOP Museum of Pop Culture (formerly Experience Music Project) swoops in this week with an exhibit that reminds fans where the heck these costumed heroes came from: the comics pages.

Marvel Universe of Super Heroes, a massive, two-story exhibit, began its world-premiere run in Seattle on Saturday with a mix of incredible historical context and Marvel’s strange, narrow focus within the MCU. The very good news, as seen in the first gallery, is that the Marvel (which began life in 1939 as Timely Publications) is represented by way of a ton of original production art.

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The traditional CEO-CIO relationship is changing

GUEST: Every year, Gartner surveys CIOs on how their jobs are changing in the digital age. The latest report – released April 6 – found that digital business has never been more top of mind for CEOs and that “CIOs should guide business leaders toward deep discipline digital business.” “The quickening pace of digitalization and technological innovat…Read More

Companies outside of Silicon Valley need to rethink how they hire and train tech talent

GUEST: Between 2014 and 2016, 75 percent of all venture capital funding in the United States went to three major tech hubs: Silicon Valley; New York City; and Cambridge, Massachusetts. Organizations such as Rise of the Rest seek to push funds toward the startups in the middle of the country that might get passed over otherwise. However, the road to…Read More

Lessons from a General Assembly investor: ‘It turned out there were no moats at all in the coding school market’

Three of General Assembly’s founders at a party in 2013.

Adecco Group bought the NYC-based company for $412.5 million this week.

General Assembly is widely known as the first — or at least one of the first — premier coding schools of this tech boom cycle. After launching in New York seven years ago, the company grew to 20 campuses and around $100 million in revenue before being acquired this week by Swiss staffing firm Adecco for $412.5 million.

One of the more interesting things about the company’s trajectory, according to a blog post by early General Assembly investor Jason Stoffer, a partner at Maveron, is that its premium brand as a coding school wasn’t actually enough to build a defensible “moat” in its business. Local and national rivals soon followed — WeWork bought one, Flatiron School, last year — and General Assembly actually had to compete.

As Stoffer writes:

General Assembly built the first real consumer-facing education brand in decades. Jake and team boldly said they would be an alternative to grad school and they quickly expanded across the US and the globe. But it turns out it’s not that hard to hang a shingle and launch a “coding class.” GA’s programs were higher quality but local competitors just kept nipping at our heels and driving up the cost of customer acquisition. It turned out there were no moats at all in the coding school market — that made driving significant sustainable economic profit in the coding boot camp market difficult.

Instead, Stoffer writes, it was General Assembly’s pivot to training services for big companies that wound up being its more lucrative business, which ultimately led to its big acquisition. (And even that wasn’t obvious — the company’s board “constantly asked why it existed,” he writes, before General Assembly CEO Jake Schwartz eventually grew it into half of the company’s revenue.)

It turned out that the premier coding-school brand was actually essential to that part:

When General Assembly started focusing on selling next-gen skills training to enterprises, it was clear none of its smaller competitors could compete with General Assembly’s brand and global footprint across N America, Asia and Europe. Big corporate clients like L’Oreal and Booz Allen wanted GA, as the market leader, to train their employees. So, ironically, the consumer business turned out to be hard economically and competitively intensive, but opened the door to build an incredibly lucrative and defensible enterprise business.

Stoffer’s entire post is worth a read.

Adecco says General Assembly will be “modestly dilutive” to its earnings this year but “modestly accretive” starting next year.