The Great Debate UK

Startup accelerators and Internet bubbles

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–Joe White is COO of Moonfruit.com. The opinions expressed are his own.–

All this week Seedcamp, a UK-based internet startup accelerator, has been running its headline annual event Seedcamp Week in London.

As an accelerator, Seedcamp has mimicked a successful process established in the U.S. by Y Combinator, Techstars and others of taking early stage internet entrepreneurs and running them through an intense programme of mentoring and business development. Mentors are laid on from different disciplines and work with the entrepreneurs each day. They cover founders, product experts, venture capitalists, marketing specialists and more. The best ideas at the end of the programme get funding to get started. Seedcamp Week brings the best of the best from the Seedcamps throughout the year and around the world for a final London mentor and pitch feast.

Seedcamp has grown its fund to €5m this year and made some other announcements to bolster its success. There’s no doubt that a tie-up with Dave McClures’s 500 Startups will boost Seedcamp’s profile (disclosure: Dave McClure is also a Moonfruit investor).

But there are two questions that have plagued internet tech financing in recent months: Can Europe produce internet companies that rival their U.S. cousins in terms of success and influence? And are we in a tech bubble?

Heavy traffic on the information superhighway

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– Jeff Smith is Senior Director Infrastructure Services, Global Crossing EMEA. The opinions expressed are his own.–

For many years now, number crunchers have obsessed over the growth of data, marvelling at the way that the computer age has generated enormous amounts of content and IT types have speculated as to how disks, tapes and other storage devices would need to evolve to accommodate this. Now, however, the problem has spread and the new fear is greater: could the digitisation of the world’s information lead to catastrophic communications breakdown?

from MediaFile:

Apple and Twitter: A New Power Duo?

One big winner coming out of Apple’s developers’ conference on Monday is Twitter.

Apple announced that the Internet microblogging service will be integrated directly into future versions of the iPhone and iPad software.

The consumerisation of IT

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By Mike Oliver. The opinions expressed are his own.

Whether the corporate IT world is ready or not, a growing number of employees now use a variety of mobile devices to access and carry corporate data. Powerful smartphones are becoming omnipresent – led by the universally enticing iPhone, while tablets such as the Apple iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab and Research in Motion (RIM) Playbook are set to make major inroads this year.

Mobile devices can transform almost any business for the better as increased productivity across the organisation leads to higher revenues and happier employees. And, of course, companies that have high morale find it easier to recruit and retain high-value employees. But it also raises very important questions around security and what IT departments need to do to keep information safe. Securing the entire mobile estate — both corporate and personal devices — will be imperative for businesses in 2011 and beyond.

from Business Traveller:

Travelling through the cloud on a tablet

John McHugh, VP and Chief Marketing Officer, Brocade

As technology and business travel become ever more inextricably connected, I talk to a man whose life is a symbiosis of both worlds

John McHugh, VP and Chief Marketing Officer of networking infrastructure firm Brocade, proudly sits on both sides of the buyer-seller fence. On one hand, a WiFi-less or WiFi-jammed hotel will not be seeing his custom again in a hurry; on the other, his company offers hotels WiFi deployment.

A new generation of feminist scholars

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TECH LIBRARIES

Jess deCourcy Hinds, a library director and writer, has written for Newsweek, the New York Times, Ms., and School Library Journal. The opinions expressed are her own. Thomson Reuters is hosting an International Women’s Day live blog on March 8, 2011.

I am the librarian at Bard High School Early College in Queens, New York, where my students speak 34 languages, from Albanian to Urdu to Tibetan. And I’m proud to say that these bright, culturally diverse students are learning about feminist history—some as early as 9th grade.  I had to wait until graduate school to become a feminist scholar with the kind of research opportunities my youngest students have now.

from Davos Notebook:

Cybersecurity goes prime time at Davos

DAVOS/- Michael Fertik is the founder and CEO of Reputation.com, an online privacy and reputation management company. He is a member of the World Economic Forum Agenda Council on Internet Security and recipient of the WEF Technology Pioneer 2011 Award. The opinions expressed are his own. -

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has named cybersecurity one of the top five risks in the world. In its Global Risks 2011 report, the WEF's Risk Response Network nominated cybersecurity alongside planetary risks posed by demography, resource scarcity, trepidation about globalization, and, of course, WMDs. This is heady stuff. Cybersecurity has officially gone prime time. This week in Davos, I'll be moderating and contributing to panel sessions on this topic.

from The Great Debate:

Google’s greatest skill – and challenge

GOOGLE/

By Jeff Jarvis
Jarvis is the author of "What Would Google Do?" and teaches at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. His next book, "Public Parts", will be published later this year. The miracle of Google was that it could accomplish anything—let alone become the fastest growing company in the history of the world and the greatest disruptive force in business and society today—while being run by a committee, a junta, a council of the gods. In management, as in every other arena of business, technology, and media, Google broke every rule and made new ones. It should not be a shock that Eric Schmidt has stepped aside as CEO and made room for Larry Page. Schmidt was the prince regent who ruled until the boy king could take the throne while training him to do so. We knew that this would happen. We just forgot that it would. When I interviewed Schmidt a few weeks ago and asked about pressure over privacy, China, and lobbying, he said, “This is not the No. 1 crisis at Google.” What is? “Growth,” he said, “just growth.” Scale is Google’s greatest skill and greatest challenge. It scaled search (vs. quaint Yahoo, which thought it could catalogue this web thing). It scaled advertising (vs. the media companies that today don’t know how to grow, only shrink). It is scaling mobile (by giving away Android). It has tried to scale innovation (with its 20 percent rule)—but that’s the toughest. How does Google stay ahead of Facebook strategically? The war between the two of them isn’t over social. The next, great scalable opportunity and challenge is mobile, which in the end will translate into local advertising revenue. Mobile will give Google (or Facebook or Groupon or Twitter or Foursquare … we shall see) the signals needed to target content, services, search, and advertising with greater relevance, efficiency, and value than ever. As Schmidt told broadcasters in Berlin last year: “We know where you are. We know what you like.” Local is a huge, unclaimed prize. The question is how to scale sales. I have no special insight into the Googleplex. But I have to imagine that when the company’s three musketeers sat down and asked themselves what impediments could restrain their innovation and growth, they were smart enough and honest enough to finally answer, “us.” As well as their holy trinity worked setting strategy and reaching consensus—the one thing I did hear from inside Google was that nothing happened if they did not agree—it has become apparent that Google became less nimble and more clumsily uncoordinated. Google is working on two conflicting and competing operating system strategies, Android and Chrome. It bungled the launches of Buzz and Wave. It is losing talent to Facebook. It needs clearer vision and strategy and more decisive communication and execution of it. If it’s obvious to us it had to be obvious to them that that couldn’t come from Largey- plus-Eric. Google, like its founders, is growing up. It needs singular management. So let’s hope that Schmidt did his most important job well—not managing but teaching. Now we will watch to see who Larry Page really is and where his own vision will take Google. Will he give the company innovative leadership and can Sergey Brin give it leadership in innovation? I imagine we will see a new support structure for Page built from below now rather than from the side. I’m most eager to see how he will cope with speaking publicly for the company. Schmidt’s geeky sense of humor was not grokked by media. (When he set off a tempest in the news teapot saying we should all be able to change our names at age 21 and start over with youthful indiscretions left behind us, he was joking, folks. Really, he was.) Page is even less show-bizzy. As for Schmidt: I have gained tremendous respect for him as a manager, thinker, leader. His next act will likely surprise is more than today’s act. Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do?, teaches at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. His next book, Public Parts, will be published later this year.

The miracle of Google was that it could accomplish anything—let alone become the fastest growing company in the history of the world and the greatest disruptive force in business and society today—while being run by a committee, a junta, a council of the gods.

from Breakingviews:

Goldman’s old-school Facebook deal sets new tests

Goldman Sachs' old-school Facebook deal brings a new set of challenges. The bank is raising up to $1.5 billion from clients to invest in the social network while putting in $450 million itself. Like Morgan Stanley's reported deal with online coupon service Groupon, it looks like classic merchant banking. With hot firms in the driver's seat, however, the banks could find themselves in for a wild ride.

Internet darlings, with their growth, profitability and cash, face little pressure to go public yet still have some use for what a fundraising can provide. So instead of an IPO, they rely on so-called D-rounds. This allows them to raise money at favorable valuations for internal use, while buying stock back from employees or early-round investors who want to cash out.

from MediaFile:

Berners-Lee: Apple, Facebook are enemies of the web

2010 is a great time for the web. Innovation is thriving as new services and content flourish on smartphones and laptops, thanks in good part to industry leaders like Apple and Facebook.

But according to Tim Berners-Lee, - often called “ the father of the web” - the open and democratic structure of the web is threatened by sinister forces trying to redesign the web in ways that make it more closed for their own personal gain. These enemies of the web don't just include totalitarian governments. They include industry leaders like Apple and Facebook.

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