Reuters blog archive
from Paul Smalera:
Below is an unedited transcript of the video interview I conducted with Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures:
PAUL SMALERA, Technology Editor Reuters.com: Today I had a great chat with Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures. Check it out.
Let’s start with Bitcoin. It’s captured the imagination of tech blogs, there’s been a big price spike, dozens of posts all over the internet. And your own blog is full of savvy readers; I was reading through the comments on it. One of them said, ‘I haven’t even followed Bitcoin because I don’t really understand it quite frankly.’ Can we start there? Can you just tell us from your point of view what Bitcoin is?
FRED WILSON, Union Square Ventures: Bitcoin is a digital currency. It’s a currency like the dollar or the euro or the yen. But it’s different in a couple of important ways. One is that it’s not based on faith in a commodity like gold or in a government like the US government. It’s based on faith in a mathematic formula. What underlies Bitcoin is math really and there’s a finite amount of Bitcoin that could be created; 21 million Bitcoin in total. We haven’t created all the Bitcoin yet because Bitcoin gets mined like gold would get mined.
from Paul Smalera:
This week Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures sat down with me for a video interview (part of Reuters' Tech Tonic: Interface series) to talk about a wide variety of topics: Bitcoin, wireless spectrum auctions, Airbnb, immigration, the New York City mayor's race, even his wife Joanne (the Gotham Gal), and a few others. Why so many topics? Fred’s simply one of the most thoughtful technology investors working today, and peppering him with as many different questions as possible can help us learn how he thinks.
Fred often cites “pattern recognition” as the main job of a venture capitalist, and I think I got a pretty good sense of Fred’s pattern: he understands the mechanism behind a company or technology, and figures out whether his firm can help that company grow. In this interview, he's an insightful and persuasive defender of the interests of the tech industry, because he very sincerely believes in its ability to do good for people.
from Felix Salmon:
David Einhorn is shorting Chipotle, on the rather dubious basis that Taco Bell is going to start seriously competing on the fast-food-which-actually-tastes-good front:
Mr. Einhorn, the president of Greenlight Capital, noted that Taco Bell’s new upscale menu, Cantina Bell, would lure customers away from Chipotle, which offers higher-priced options.
from Felix Salmon:
Back when this blog was on hiatus, I put a chart of Microsoft and Apple valuations up over at felixsalmon.com. People liked it, and so I decided to take the obvious next step, and animate it. The result is the video above, and this gif.
The data are a little bit out of date at this point, and so you can't see Apple soaring to its latest $650 billion valuation* -- but it's easy to see where it's going. And the big picture is still very clear: Apple basically curves up with market cap being an inverse function of p/e, as you'd expect; when Microsoft, by contrast, reached its highest valuation, it had a whopping great p/e ratio.
The Huffington Post on Monday launched its latest foray into video with a twist: Live programs that are intended to get people to talk about the segment in real time.
HuffPost Live "airs" its programs in real time -- some examples include Mitt Romney's veep choice of Paul Ryan and how white supremacy groups are using music as a recruiting too -- though the videos can be watched even after they have been shown live. It is streaming 12 hours of programming, five days a week from its studios in AOL's New York headquarters, Los Angeles and Washington D.C.
from Photographers Blog:
By Tom Peter
Some call it street art; Bosso Fataka call it “joy in shaping our environment." The environment that surrounds the four young men of this art group is the streets of Berlin, a city that some say has become Europe's unofficial capital of unsanctioned art in the public space.
Over twenty years after the reunification, there is an abundance of derelict houses, whole swathes of industrial wasteland and railway arches that afford artists with square kilometers worth of brickwork that's just asking to be covered in graffiti.
Do consumers want a more social side to video? Some $8 milllion to Chill, an online-only video service that works via Facebook, says they do. The cash comes from venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, talent firm William Morris Endeavor, and others. Chill allows people to watch videos and comment on them in groups, live. The cash should help it grow faster, while the relationship with William Morris, a new investor, should help it reel in more content partners, a spokesman said. Its current partners include celebrity-news service TMZ and TV show Jimmy Kimmel Live, it said. About 18 million registered users have signed up with Chill, and around 10 million are regular visitors, the company said.
from Anthony De Rosa:
Two startups are trying to disrupt the traditional television model. One of them, Aereo, has been taken to court by the incumbent networks. The other, Skitter has made deals with the content providers they're rebroadcasting. Here's a look at both in the latest Tech Tonic.
from Felix Salmon:
It worked! Kinda. I took Matthew Bishop's challenge, and tried to spend a gram of gold like I would any other currency. And, frankly, didn't have a lot of luck -- until I managed to find a small business where the owner just happened to be standing around. In the end, I got three lobster rolls (and free drinks, too) for one gram of gold. Which were very tasty -- thank you Snack Box!
So, what did I learn on my expedition in Times Square?
When I tell the Snack Box owner that the gold is real and that "you can tell by how shiny it is", I'm not kidding. Pure gold is really shiny.
The most surprising people turn out to know how much a gram of gold is worth, with an astonishing level of accuracy.
Gold is not a currency. I'm reasonably sure that Andrew, the guy behind the counter at Snack Box, would not have accepted my gram of gold unless his boss was telling him to.
If you do want to spend gold, then try your luck with small businesses, and don't expect a good implied exchange rate.
Also, bringing a film crew along is unlikely to help you at any big chain store.
Most interestingly, however, at least to me, was how much it actually cost us to obtain that gram of gold. For the purposes of the video, I was using the value of one gram of gold based on its market price per ounce. But if you go out and attempt to buy a gold bar, you'll never be able to find one for a mere $53. In fact, my producer wound up paying double that, in Manhattan. Even if you do a lot of searching online, you'll be hard pressed to find one for less than $80. We didn't try to sell the gold -- we wound up getting a delicious lunch instead -- but my guess is that in most cities the effective bid/offer is absolutely enormous. And much bigger than for any major global currency.