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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

New York’s programming ed tech startup, General Assembly, sells to Adecco for $413 million

The European human resources services company Adecco Group said that is acquiring the New York-based, programming, design, and management training startup General Assembly for $413 million.

With the acquisition, Adecco adds to its ability to provide job training and re-skilling services for businesses. It’s proof that General Assembly’s own business has come a long way since its early days as a startup offering continuing education or training programs for new entrants into the tech-enabled white collar workforce.

General Assembly was worth $440 million after its last, $70 million investment round, according to a report in Axios, which means that early stage investors will see a nice return on their investment while many later stage backers — including Wellington Management and Fresco Capital are looking at some pretty flat returns.

Investors likely popping some corks right now include Alex Ohanian’s Initialized Capital, Maveron, and Bezos Expeditions, the venture capital fund of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos (who clearly needs the money).

It’s not an ignominious outcome for General Assembly, which brought in $100 million in 2017, but not the exit that many in the New York tech ecosystem had hoped for.

Over time, General Assembly became less of a consumer facing business and transitioned into one that was serving primarily business clients — which means access to Adecco Group’s over 100,000 businesses is a big boon to the company’s continued expansion plans.

“By offering General Assembly’s services alongside the Group’s existing talent development, career transition and professional staffing solutions we will be able to better respond to… client needs, enhancing both access to and the supply of the most in-demand skills,” said Alain Dehaze, chief executive of the Adecco Group, in a statement.

 

The company will continue to operate as a separate division and will continue to be led by Jake Schwartz, General Assembly’s founder and chief executive. Schwartz will report to Sergio Picarelli on Adecco’s executive committee.

“General Assembly has always been about creating bridges between education and employment — that’s what has allowed us to scale to 20 campuses, 50,000 alumni, and over 300 Fortune 500 clients,” says Schwartz, in a statement. “As our work with employers has grown, so has our need to connect in a deeper way with the world of human capital, and that is why we are so excited about the transformational opportunities that come with this partnership.”

Adecco has been on a mini-shopping spree lately for venture-backed human resources startups. Earlier this year, the company acquired Vettery in a $100 million deal. That company had developed a marketplace where job candidates could look at offers and schedule interviews with potential employers that interested them — with the potential to receive a signing bonus from Vettery when they took a position.

It’s clear that technology is radically transforming the human resources industry — with new startup companies offering matching, vetting, training, and retraining technologies for employers and job seekers alike.

With these two acquisitions Adecco seems to be pulling the trigger on the starting gun for consolidation in the space. It’s another example of large corporations looking to buy their way into innovation — before they’re overwhelmed by a potential new generation of competitors.


Source: TechCrunch

Ola will add 10,000 electric rickshaws to its India fleet over the next year

Ola announced today that it will add 10,000 electric auto-rickshaws to its fleet in India over the next 12 months. The program, called “Mission: Electric,” is part of its ambitious plan to put one million electric vehicles on the road by 2021. The company launched a trial EV program last year in the city of Nagpur, but has reportedly run into some recent road bumps.

Three-wheel rickshaws are a popular way of making quick trips in many cities and can be hailed through Ola’s app; the company’s electric vehicle trial program in Nagpur, which started in May 2017, already includes rickshaws. As part of “Mission: Electric,” Ola said it will add 10,000 new electric rickshaws across three additional cities this year.

To enable drivers to switch to EVs, Ola’s program also includes infrastructure like rooftop solar panels and charging stations. Last month, however, Factor Daily reported that Ola is scaling back its electric vehicle plans after India’s government appeared to become less enthusiastic about creating an explicit EV policy, despite its previously stated goal of making all new vehicles electric by 2030.

Around the same time, Reuters reported that many Ola drivers participating in its Nagpur trial wanted to switch back to fuel-powered cars because of long waiting times at charging stations and higher operating costs.

An Ola representative told TechCrunch that the company has installed charging dockets at the homes of some drivers so they can save time by swapping out batteries, stating that “with new technologies like battery swapping, the charging experience has been significantly improved.” Ola is currently in discussions with several state and municipal governments about where to launch its electric rickshaw program and is “willing to work with any city committed to sustainable mobility solutions.”

“We have clocked more than four million [electric] kilometers and have learned the ins and outs of vehicles, capabilities and applications. We have learned real-world operating challenges and cost implications of chargers, batteries and solars,” she added. “Deployment of electric vehicles would require support of like-minded partners.”


Source: TechCrunch

'Suicide machine' unveiled by euthanasia advocate – CNET

Choosing when to die is a human right, said Philip Nitschke, the creator of a “suicide machine” called the “Sarco”.
Source: CNET

Meet TechCrunch in Africa Next Week

Last October, TechCrunch launched Startup Battlefield Africa in Nairobi, Kenya, where Lori Systems, SynCommerce & AgroCenta, were among the judges top picks. This week, TechCrunch is headed back to Africa to checkout the amazing startups taking root for our global Startup Battlefield competitions. Startup Battlefield at Disrupt in San Francisco September 5-7th is now open, and founders can apply here.

Startup Battlefield Director, Samantha Stein will be in Lagos, Nigeria and Accra, Ghana to meet with founders, investors, angels, and established entrepreneurs across the ecosystem. Startups and investors can learn more about TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield program at one of the upcoming meet and greets listed below.
Founders will learn how to apply for Battlefield with a solid application, and investors will learn how to refer companies in their portfolio.

Meet and greats are already filling up, so make sure to RSVP ASAP.

Startup Battlefield is TechCrunch’s renowned startup launch competition. The Startup Battlefield alumni community comprises almost 750 companies that have raised over $8 billion USD, and produced over 105 successful exits and IPOs.

2018 TechCrunch Africa Meet and Greets

Lagos, Nigeria

April 17th, Tuesday
Host: CC Hub
Time: 1:30pm – 3:00pm
RSVP

April 18th, Wednesday
Host: MEST
Time: 3:30pm
**This is an invite only event

Accra, Ghana

April 20th, Friday
Host: MEST
Time: 3:00pm – 5:30pm
RSVP

April 20th, Friday
Host: Impact Hub
Time: 6:00pm – 7:30pm
RSVP
*For questions, please email battlefield@techcrunch.com

 


Source: TechCrunch

Social media, politics, and the bubble of distraction

When the President changes our country so drastically, will we have a new concept of what’s normal? If our social media feeds consist of people who think just like us, how can we expect social change? And why do we always assume the future will be better than the past? In the latest episode of the Interesting People in Interesting Times podcast, Maria Konnikova, author of The Confidence Game, explains what Trump’s lies do to your brain, why we fall for the same tricks every time, and how humanity is hardwired for hope–and why that’s problematic. 
 
Konnikova discusses the idea of changing norms: how we behave as a society, where we get our ideas about how to act, and how fixed vs. malleable they are. She explains that what drives all human behavior is simple. We would much rather be liked, than we would to be right. “Throughout history, human beings want to go with the majority, rather than be the lone person doing the morally right thing to do,” she says. 
 
While social norms can change very quickly — and especially so, when driven by someone in a position of authority — biases, on the other hand, are deeply set. And believe it or not, the most problematic bias we have as a society is our optimism. Humanity is hardwired for hope, and that’s what keeps getting us into trouble. 
 
“Look at the Mueller investigations,” Konnikova says. “[Our reaction to that is] ‘Oh, well, this time, something’s actually going to stick.’ You could see it happening even before the election. People saying Donald Trump is never going to win the nomination. After that, it was: ‘Oh, he’s never going to accept.’ Then it was ‘Oh, but he’s not actually going to win.’  [Then it became] ‘he’s not going to accept the presidency.’ And now ‘he’s going to be impeached.’ This is all a complete delusion. We’re all still hopelessly optimistic. The fact that we think tomorrow is going to be better than today is what gets us out of bed. Unfortunately, it’s also what’s going to keep Trump in office.” 

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock/Brian A. Jackson

Speaking of what’s going to keep Trump in office, Konnikova talks about Facebook and the bubble of distraction that technology builds around us. She describes the concept of cognitive load: your brain can only handle so much, and when you can’t sift through everything, you start to just accept it. “Companies like Facebook have a responsibility to recognize that their platforms are incredibly powerful. Who reads my feed? People who agree with me. So with something like gun control, [if we want to drive change] we need to get leaders within key communities — Republicans, members of the NRA, gun owners, to speak out. We can’t keep talking to one another and think we’re making a difference.” 
 
“The genius of Trump’s approach is that he figures out the version of the world that would make you happy. We’re losing jobs? I’ll give you jobs. You feel that the country is about people who are the liberal elite? Well, I’m not the liberal elite, I’m about you. So he looks everyone in the eye and he tells them their version of the world [is the right one.] That’s what the best con artists do. And what are you going to do when someone tells you the world is exactly how you suspected? You’re going to say “There you go, that’s exactly what I’ve been saying all these years.” 
 
One of the ways in which Trump is able to do what he does is through sheer repetition. When you say something that’s false over and over and over, people start thinking it’s actually true, because the brain gets used to it. “Humans are lazy,” Konnikova adds. “We like the status quo. It’s nice to be told ‘Don’t worry about it. We’ve got it handled. It will all be fine.”
 
Interesting People in Interesting Times is a podcast hosted by Tom Goodwin and Adriana Stan. This episode was recorded last month at Soho House New York. 
 
Listen to the podcast here. 


Source: TechCrunch

Lessons from cybersecurity exits

To: ceo@cybersecuritystartup.com

Subject: Lessons from cybersecurity exits

Dear F0und3r:

What a month this has been for cybersecurity! One unicorn IPO and two nice acquisitions – Zscaler’s great debut on wall street,  a $300 million acquisition of Evident.io by Palo Alto Networks and a $350 million acquisition of Phantom Cyber by Splunk has gotten all of us excited.

Word on the street is that in each of those exits, the founders took home ~30% to 40% of the proceeds. Which is not bad for ~ 4 /5 years of work. They can finally afford to buy two bedroom homes in Silicon Valley.

Evident.IO Investment Rounds and Return estimates

Date

Select Investors

Round Size

Pre

Post

Dilution

Estimated Returns / Multiple of Invested Capital

Sep 2013

True Ventures

$1.5m

$5.25m

$6.75 m

22%

44X

Nov 2014

Bain Capital

$9.8 m

$18.1m

$28.0 m

35%

10.7X

Apr 2016

Venrock

$15.7 m

$35.0 m

$50.7 m

30%

6X

Feb 2017

GV

$22.0 m

$73.6 m

$95.5

23%

3.1X

My math is not that good but looks like even some VCs made a decent return. Back of the envelope scribbles indicate that True Ventures scored an estimated ~44X multiple on its seed investment. Others like Bain snagged a ~10X on the A round investment and Venrock which led the Series B round took home ~6X.

We see a similar pattern with Phantom Cyber, which got acquired by Splunk for $350 million. A little bird told me that they had booking in the range of $10 million. But before we all get too self-congratulatory, lets ask – why did these companies sell at $300 million to $350 million when everyone in the valley wants to ride a unicorn? Clearly, funds like GV, Bain and Kleiner could have fueled more rounds to make unicorns out of Evident.io and Phantom Cyber.

Phantom Cyber Investment Rounds and Return estimates

Date

Select Investors

Round Size

Pre

Post

Dilution

Estimated Returns / Multiple of Invested Capital

April 2015

Foundation Capital

$2.7m

$8.3 m

$11.04 m

14.50%

31.7

Sep 2015

Blackstone

$6.5m

$26.7 m

$33.2 m

15.90%

10.5

Jan 2017

KPCB

$13.5m

$83.0 m

$96.5 m

13.90%

3.6

(Data Source: Pitchbook)

Some of the board members might have peeked at the exit data gathered by the hardworking analysts at Momentum Cyber, a cybersecurity advisory firm. Look at security exit trends from 2010-2017. You might notice that ~68% of security exits were below $100 million. And as much as 85% of exits occur below $300 million.

Agreed that there are very few exceptional security CEO’s like Jay Chaudhry who grew up in a Himalayan village, and led ZScaler to an IPO. This was Jay’s fifth startup and he kept over 25.5% of the proceeds, with another 28.3% owned by his trust. TPG Growth owned less than 10%. After all, he himself funded a substantial part of the company (which raised a total of $110 million).  But not everyone is as driven, successful and it’s ok to sell if the exit numbers are meaningful. Remember what that bard of avon once said:

For I must tell you friendly in your ear,

Sell when you can; you are not for all markets.

(Shakespeare, As you Like It, Act 3, Scene V)

(68% of security exits occur below $100 million. M & A Data from 2010-2017. Source: Momentum Cyber)

My friend Dino Boukouris, a director at Momentum Cyber, offers some sage advice to all founders who are smitten by unicorns. “Before a founder raises their next round, I would reflect on the market’s ability to purchase companies. The exit data says it all. As you raise more capital, your exit value goes up, timing gets stretched and the number of buyers who can afford you drops.” Dino has a point, you see. As we inflate valuations, your work, my dear CEO, becomes much harder.

If you don’t believe Dino, let’s look at another recent exit, PhishMe, which was acquired by a private equity consortium for $400 million. That’s a nice number, correct? At the first look, you’ll notice that the dilution and financial return patterns are similar to that of Phantom. Except that PhishMe took 7 years and consumed $58 million of capital, while Phantom took 3 years and consumed $22.7 million. Timing and capital efficiency matter as much as exit value. It’s not just the exit value ~ but how long and how much. Back to my man, Dino who will gently remind you that for the 175 M & A transactions in 2017, the median value was $68 milion. Read that last sentence again — very slowly. $68 million. Ouch!

PhishMe Investment Rounds

Date

Round size

Select Investors

Pre-money Valuation

Post

Dilution

Returns / Multiple of Invested Capital

July 2012

$2.5m

Paladin

$10 m

12.5 m

12.20%

32.0

March 2015

$13 m

Paladin

$61 m

$74 m

13 %

5.4

July 2016

$42.5 m

Bessemer

$155 m

197 m

21%

2.0

(Data Source: Pitchbook)

Two years ago  in Cockroaches versus Unicorns – The Golden Age of Cybersecurity Startups cybersecurity founders were urged to avoid the unicorn hubris. A lot of bystanders, your ego included, will cheer you as you get higher valuations. But aren’t we all rational human beings, always making data based decisions?

Marc Andreessen will remind you that his best friend, Jim Barksdale, once said “If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine.”   Since 2012, my VC friends have funded 1242 cybersecurity companies, investing a whopping $17.8bn. But chief information security officers say that they don’t need 1242 security products. One exhausted CISO told me they get fifteen to seventeen cold calls a day. They hide away from LinkedIn, being bombarded relentlessly.

Enrique Salem (former CEO of Symantec) and Noah Carr, both with Bain Capital are celebrating the successful sale of Evident.io. They pointed out that the founders — Tim Prendergast and Justin Lundy had lived the public cloud security problem in their previous lives at Adobe. “Such deep domain expertise allowed them to gain credibility in the market. It’s not easy to earn the trust of their customers. But given their strong engineering team, they were able to build an “easy to deploy” solution that could scale to customers with 1000s of AWS / Azure accounts. Customers were more willing to be reference-able, given this aligned relationship.”

(Source: Momentum Cyber)

You, my dear CEO, should take a page from that playbook. Because Jake Flomenberg, Partner at Accel Partners says, “CISOs are suffering from indigestion. They are looking to rationalize toolsets and add very selectively. New layer X for new threat vector Y is an increasingly tough sell.” According to Cack Wilhelm Partner at Accomplice, “Security analysts have alert fatigue, and CISOs have vendor fatigue.”  You are one of those possibly, wouldn’t you agree?

Besides indigestion and fatigue, the CISO roles have become demanding. William Lin, Principal at Trident Capital Cyber, a $300m fund pointed out that “the role of CISO has bifurcated into managing risk akin to an auditor and at the same time, managing complex engineering and technology environments.”  So naturally, they are managing their time more cautiously and not looking forward to meeting one more startup.

Erik Bloch, Director of Security Products at SalesForce says that while he keeps an open mind and is willing to look at innovative startups, it takes him weeks to arrange calls with the right people, and months to scope a POC. And let’s not forget the mountain of paperworks and legal agreements. “It’s great to say you have a Fortune 100 as an early customer, but just be warned that it’ll be a long, hard road to get there, so plan appropriately” he pointed out.

So, my dear founder, as the road gets harder, funding slows down. Look at 2017 —  despite all those big hacks, Series A funding dropped by 25% in 2017. Clearly, many of our seed funded companies are not delivering those Fortune 100 POC milestones. And are unable to raise a Series A.  Weep, if we must, but let us remind ourselves that out point solutions are not that impressive to the CISOs.

All the founders I know are trying to raise a formulaic $8m Series A on $40m pre. But not every startup that wants 8 on 40 deserves it. Revenues and growth rate, those quaint metrics matter more than ever. And some investors look for the quality of your customers.  Aaron Jacobson of NEA, a multi-billion dollar venture fund says, ”A key value driver is a thought-leader CISO as a customer. This is often a good indicator of value creation.“

Stage

Expected Revenue Run Rate

Estd. Round Size

Angel

None

Up to $2m

Series A

$1.5m to $3 m

$5m to $8m

Early VC

$5 m to $8 m

$15m to $25m

Late Stage VC

$6m to $10m

$30m to $50m

When markets get crowded and all startups sound the same, investors seek quality, or move to later stages.  They like to see well proven companies, that have solved a lot of basic problems. And eliminated riskier stumbling blocks. Like product-market fit, pricing and go-to-market issues. Naturally, the later stage valuations are rising faster. Money is chasing quality, growth and returns.

Median Post-Money Valuation by stage for cybersecurity companies (Source: Pitchbook)

The security IPOs offer a sobering view. This is a long journey, not for the faint of heart. Okta moved fast, consumed ~4X more capital as compared to Sailpoint and delivered great returns.

Company

Year Founded

Years to IPO

Total Capital raised prior to IPO

Revenues (2017)

Post Money of last round prior to IPO

Market Cap at IPO

ZScaler

2008

10

$180m

$176 m

$1.05 bn

$3.6 bn

Okta

2009

8

$231 m

$160 m

$1.18 bn

$2.1 bn

Forescout

2000

17

$159 m

$220 m

$1.0 bn

$806 mn

SailPoint

2004

13

$54.7 m

$186 m

N/A

$1.1 bn

Security IPOs (Source: Momentum Cyber, Pitchbook)

Innovating with go-to-market strategies

In the near term,  the big challenge for you, dear security founder, is selling in an over crowded market. If I were you, I’d remember that innovation should not be restricted to merely technology, but can extend into sales and marketing. We lack creativity when it comes to marketing – ask Kelly Shortridge of Security ScoreCard. She should get some kind of BlackHat award for developing this godforsaken Infosec Startup Bingo. If you find any startup vendor that uses all these words, and wins this bingo, please DM me ~ I will promptly shave my head in shame. We got here because we do not possess simple marketing muscles. We copy each other while our customers roll their eyes when we pitch them.

Sid Trivedi of Omidyar Technology Ventures wants to work with the developer focussed startups. He says, “Look at companies like Auth0. The sales efficiency on developer-focused platforms is tremendous. You can go to a CISO, CIO or CTO and point out that X number of developers are paying to use my technology. Here are their names, why don’t you talk to them? And then, let’s discuss an enterprise license for the full company?” That approach works like magic. Overwhelming majority of the software IPOs like Twilio, Mulesoft, SendGrid are developer platforms.”

If you go top-down in a hurry, you can crash and burn. I am aware of an impatient security vendor who used executive level pressure at a Fortune 50 company. They kicked their way into the POC. And got kicked out by the infosec team. The furios infosec team destroyed the vendor in a technical assessment. I was told that the product was functional but the vendor’s impatience and political gymnastics killed the deal. Let us not forget simple truth: many times CISOs turn to their subordinates for advice and decision-making, so don’t just sell to the top. Nor ignore the rest of the people in the room.

With more noise, the buyers freeze. Margins shrink. Revenues and growth slows down. Which means it’s harder to get to your milestones before your next round. Running out of cash is not fun. Nor is a down round, layoffs and such. So while this is easier said than done, please raise less and do more. And maybe, just maybe, you can keep 40% of a $350 million exit.

If you have questions or existential dilemmas, you can always find me, chatting with a friendly VC in South Park.  Or I’m always around in a trusted secure world of Signal.

Stay safe at that annual security stampede called RSA.

Kindly,

Mahendra

PS: Let’s not forget to express our gratitude to those analysts at Momentum Cyber and Pitchbook for painstakingly tracking every investment, analyzing and presenting meaningful data. They help us look at the forest, and make our journey easier. Send them a thank-you tweet, some wine, chocolates, flowers or home-baked cookies.


Source: TechCrunch

Is America’s national security Facebook and Google’s problem?

Outrage that Facebook made the private data of over 87 million of its U.S. users available to the Trump campaign has stoked fears of big US-based technology companies are tracking our every move and misusing our personal data to manipulate us without adequate transparency, oversight, or regulation.

These legitimate concerns about the privacy threat these companies potentially pose must be balanced by an appreciation of the important role data-optimizing companies like these play in promoting our national security.

In his testimony to the combined US Senate Commerce and Judiciary Committees, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was not wrong to present his company as a last line of defense in an “ongoing arms race” with Russia and others seeking to spread disinformation and manipulate political and economic systems in the US and around the world.

The vast majority of the two billion Facebook users live outside the United States, Zuckerberg argued, and the US should be thinking of Facebook and other American companies competing with foreign rivals in “strategic and competitive” terms. Although the American public and US political leaders are rightly grappling with critical issues of privacy, we will harm ourselves if we don’t recognize the validity of Zuckerberg’s national security argument.

Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg testifies during a US House Committee on Energy and Commerce hearing about Facebook on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, April 11, 2018. (Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Examples are everywhere of big tech companies increasingly being seen as a threat. US President Trump has been on a rampage against Amazon, and multiple media outlets have called for the company to be broken up as a monopoly. A recent New York Times article, “The Case Against Google,” argued that Google is stifling competition and innovation and suggested it might be broken up as a monopoly. “It’s time to break up Facebook,” Politico argued, calling Facebook “a deeply untransparent, out-of-control company that encroaches on its users’ privacy, resists regulatory oversight and fails to police known bad actors when they abuse its platform.” US Senator Bill Nelson made a similar point when he asserted during the Senate hearings that “if Facebook and other online companies will not or cannot fix the privacy invasions, then we are going to have to. We, the Congress.”

While many concerns like these are valid, seeing big US technology companies solely in the context of fears about privacy misses the point that these companies play a far broader strategic role in America’s growing geopolitical rivalry with foreign adversaries. And while Russia is rising as a threat in cyberspace, China represents a more powerful and strategic rival in the 21st century tech convergence arms race.

Data is to the 21st century what oil was to the 20th, a key asset for driving wealth, power, and competitiveness. Only companies with access to the best algorithms and the biggest and highest quality data sets will be able to glean the insights and develop the models driving innovation forward. As Facebook’s failure to protect its users’ private information shows, these date pools are both extremely powerful and can be abused. But because countries with the leading AI and pooled data platforms will have the most thriving economies, big technology platforms are playing a more important national security role than ever in our increasingly big data-driven world.

 

BEIJING, CHINA – 2017/07/08: Robots dance for the audience on the expo. On Jul. 8th, Beijing International Consumer electronics Expo was held in Beijing China National Convention Center. (Photo by Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images)

China, which has set a goal of becoming “the world’s primary AI innovation center” by 2025, occupying “the commanding heights of AI technology” by 2030, and the “global leader” in “comprehensive national strength and international influence” by 2050, understands this. To build a world-beating AI industry, Beijing has kept American tech giants out of the Chinese market for years and stolen their intellectual property while putting massive resources into developing its own strategic technology sectors in close collaboration with national champion companies like Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent.

Examples of China’s progress are everywhere.

Close to a billion Chinese people use Tencent’s instant communication and cashless platforms. In October 2017, Alibaba announced a three-year investment of $15 billion for developing and integrating AI and cloud-computing technologies that will power the smart cities and smart hospitals of the future. Beijing is investing $9.2 billion in the golden combination of AI and genomics to lead personalized health research to new heights. More ominously, Alibaba is prototyping a new form of ubiquitous surveillance that deploys millions of cameras equipped with facial recognition within testbed cities and another Chinese company, Cloud Walk, is using facial recognition to track individuals’ behaviors and assess their predisposition to commit a crime.

In all of these areas, China is ensuring that individual privacy protections do not get in the way of bringing together the massive data sets Chinese companies will need to lead the world. As Beijing well understands, training technologists, amassing massive high-quality data sets, and accumulating patents are key to competitive and security advantage in the 21st century.

“In the age of AI, a U.S.-China duopoly is not just inevitable, it has already arrived,” said Kai-Fu Lee, founder and CEO of Beijing-based technology investment firm Sinovation Ventures and a former top executive at Microsoft and Google. The United States should absolutely not follow China’s lead and disregard the privacy protections of our citizens. Instead, we must follow Europe’s lead and do significantly more to enhance them. But we also cannot blind ourselves to the critical importance of amassing big data sets for driving innovation, competitiveness, and national power in the future.

UNITED STATES – SEPTEMBER 24: Aerial view of the Pentagon building photographed on Sept. 24, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

In its 2017 unclassified budget, the Pentagon spent about $7.4 billion on AI, big data and cloud-computing, a tiny fraction of America’s overall expenditure on AI. Clearly, winning the future will not be a government activity alone, but there is a big role government can and must play. Even though Google remains the most important AI company in the world, the U.S. still crucially lacks a coordinated national strategy on AI and emerging digital technologies. While the Trump administration has gutted the white house Office of Science and Technology Policy, proposed massive cuts to US science funding, and engaged in a sniping contest with American tech giants, the Chinese government has outlined a “military-civilian integration development strategy” to harness AI to enhance Chinese national power.

FBI Director Christopher Wray correctly pointed out that America has now entered a “whole of society” rivalry with China. If the United States thinks of our technology champions solely within our domestic national framework, we might spur some types of innovation at home while stifling other innovations that big American companies with large teams and big data sets may be better able to realize.

America will be more innovative the more we nurture a healthy ecosystem of big, AI driven companies while also empowering smaller startups and others using blockchain and other technologies to access large and disparate data pools. Because breaking up US technology giants without a sufficient analysis of both the national and international implications of this step could deal a body blow to American prosperity and global power in the 21st century, extreme caution is in order.

America’s largest technology companies cannot and should not be dragooned to participate in America’s growing geopolitical rivalry with China. Based on recent protests by Google employees against the company’s collaboration with the US defense department analyzing military drone footage, perhaps they will not.

But it would be self-defeating for American policymakers to not at least partly consider America’s tech giants in the context of the important role they play in America’s national security. America definitely needs significantly stronger regulation to foster innovation and protect privacy and civil liberties but breaking up America’s tech giants without appreciating the broader role they are serving to strengthen our national competitiveness and security would be a tragic mistake.


Source: TechCrunch

Solo: A Star Wars Story TV spot shows Han meeting Chewie – CNET

The Star Wars film’s latest peek takes a longer look at the duo’s early dynamic.
Source: CNET

Si no encuentra profesionales de IA con talento, no está buscando bien

Cada vez más voces defienden la urgencia de diversificar la fuerza laboral especializada en inteligencia artificial. Las mujeres y las personas de color están infrarrepresentadas en este colectivo, pero todas ellas tienen potencial de convertirse en expertos del sector


Source: MIT

Los efectos del escándalo de Facebook para el futuro de la democracia

Por mucho que la red social cambie su política y Cambridge Analytica borre los datos, el daño ya está hecho. Los modelos de comportamiento construidos se van a ir refinando y alterando cada vez más la capacidad de la sociedad de tener un punto de vista real y amplio sobre los problemas


Source: MIT

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