Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on Google Plus Connect on Flickr

Tag: venture capital

Depressed? Put on this headset, please

Monday, 29 January, 2018 0 Comments

David Foster Wallace: “The cruel thing with depression is that it’s such a self-centered illness. Dostoevsky shows that pretty good in his Notes from Underground. The depression is painful, you’re sapped/consumed by yourself; the worse the depression, the more you just think about yourself and the stranger and repellent you appear to others.”

Could a brain stimulation headset offer humane treatment for the disease that led David Foster Wallace to kill himself? Might it, at least, be an alternative to the dreaded opioid medication? Flow Neuroscience from Sweden claims its headset can stimulate and change the brain’s neuronal activity using tDCS (transcranial direct current stimulation), and a related app that advises the user on eating, sleeping and exercising routines will provide holistic backup.

With 21 million people in Europe suffering from major depressive disorder, the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme is on board and Flow Neuroscience recently announced a funding round of $1.1 million from Khosla Ventures, SOSV and Daniel Andersson.

If the depression epidemic can be addressed with a solution that’s safe, effective, medication-free and designed for use at home, great benefits might flow to sufferers, who would experience a huge quality-of-life improvement as a result. And great benefits might flow, too, to those VCs who have placed their bets on Flow Neuroscience.

Flow

Sylvia Plath: “It seemed silly to wash one day when I would only have to wash again the next. It made me tired just to think of it.”


Buzzwords: platform effect

Monday, 23 May, 2016 0 Comments

As an occasional contribution to the language of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, this emerging Buzzwords lexicon is intended to explain the jargon of the, er, paradigm shift, that’s now underway in our sunlit digital mills. We’re starting with the so-called platform effect, by which intelligent enterprises create networks that link buyers and sellers of products and services and thereby make truckloads of money. Economists call this “enjoying returns to scale.”

“Facebook development tools encourage the creation of new features, services, and apps, which facilitate content distribution and stimulate innovation and new jobs.

It is estimated that the platform effect of Facebook in 2014 enabled $29bn of economic impact and 660,000 jobs globally.”

Source: Facebook’s global economic impact by United Ventures, a Milan-based venture capital firm.

The problem with the platform effect is that a handful of companies end up dominating their markets. For the powerful few, the rewards are obvious. For consumers, there are benefits as well in the form of greater convenience and lower costs, but the concentration of so much influence and wealth in so few hands is risky societally, financially and technologically. The solution? Convince or coerce or the platforms to allow collaborative innovation.


The blog post that put Twitter into play

Friday, 12 June, 2015 0 Comments

Last Wednesday, venture capitalist Chris Sacca wrote a lengthy post (circa 8,500 words) titled What Twitter Can Be. Yesterday, Twitter’s chief executive Dick Costolo said he’s quitting and co-founder Jack Dorsey will step in as interim CEO. So what did Sacca say? Well, he urged Twitter to be bolder: “It needs to place more bets with potentially oversized payoffs. It needs to question aspects of Twitter it has taken for granted. It needs to operate with smaller teams that require less permission to make change happen. Twitter can afford to build the wrong things. However, Twitter cannot afford to build the right things too slowly.”

The options facing Dorsey now are limited. He can tweak the strategy Costolo outlined last November, or he can be bold, as Sacca advises, and dumb Twitter down while filling the feeds with ads. Or he can sell the company. Either way, the choices are stark and the Twitter that we’ve come to know and love is about to change dramatically, and for the worse. Sacca and his fellow investors want a payday and they know where the money is to be found. One does not have to share his vision or like his motives, but his honesty deserves admiration:

“For example, Twitter NBA could build off of the company’s fantastic relationship with the league and include a focused and live-driven stream full of the very best Tweets and the instant-replay video content under the company’s existing Amplify deal. NBA fans would be thrilled to use that app while the game is on and the ease of advertising in that app would generate plenty of money to share back with the content partners. The same approach would work for the biggest global soccer and cricket leagues as well as the WNBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL. Twitter should consider integrating a fantasy partner like Draft Kings as well to make it a must-open app. While there are a number of fantastic mobile experiences for hardcore fans, no one has built the perfect live-action companion app for casual sports viewers. Twitter has the best shot at it.”

“All changed, changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born,” tweeted W. B. Yeats, who was born 150 years ago.


The magical words of Mary Meeker

Thursday, 28 May, 2015 0 Comments

The famous Mary Meeker, formerly an internet stock analyst at Morgan Stanley and now a partner at the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, yesterday delivered her 20th annual “State of the Internet” presentation. The venue was the Code Conference in California. Seven highlights:

  • Population usage of mobile phones grew from 1 percent globally in 1995 to 73 percent in 2014.
  • Consumer drone shipments jumped 167 percent in 2014, to 4.3 million units.
  • Smartphone adoption is slowing: 23 percent growth in 2014 compared to 27 percent in 2013.
  • Twitch has 100 million monthly active users for its live streaming, up 122 percent.
  • Video constituted 64 percent of internet traffic and 55 percent of mobile traffic in 2014.
  • India was the top country in internet user additions last year: up 63 million.
  • WhatsApp, WeChat, Facebook Messenger, Kakao and Snapchat will evolve into multipurpose content hubs.

Approaching the end of her presentation, Meeker said that the most magical words you can hear are: “That’s really interesting, I had never thought of it that way before.”