tag:thenewradical.com,2014:/feed The New Radical 2014-01-11T12:08:09-08:00 Alex Wilhelm http://thenewradical.com alex@thenextweb.com Svbtle.com tag:thenewradical.com,2014:Post/hardlanding 2014-01-11T12:08:09-08:00 2014-01-11T12:08:09-08:00 #HardLanding <p>As I’ve been saying: Hard landing. Today’s WSJ editorial on the unravelling of the Chinese stunning. </p> <p>Guess what? If you spend far too much in inefficient ways, force growth and fuel it with artificial credit, and then cover up bad loans it doesn’t end well. Ghost cities are merely the outgrowth or rotten policy.</p> tag:thenewradical.com,2014:Post/female-founders-and-y-combinator 2013-12-28T15:02:30-08:00 2013-12-28T15:02:30-08:00 Female Founders And Y Combinator <p>Paul Graham is back in the news, due in most part it now appears to unfortunate editing of <a href="http://valleywag.gawker.com/paul-graham-says-women-havent-been-hacking-for-the-pa-1490581236">some of his remarks</a>. You can vet that controversy yourself. All that I will add is that Valleywag gets points in my book for giving Paul room to respond, and Paul as well for being upfront in the aftermath. </p> <p>Discussing the issue on Twitter, @shanley (a digital friend of mine) asked me a few questions:</p> <p><em>“@alex hey you should write a piece on what % of women founders YComb has funded compared to % of male founders. :)” <a href="https://twitter.com/shanley/status/417029140793946112">Link</a></em></p> <p>And:</p> <p><em>“.@alex Why are no journalists writing about what percent of women Ycombinator and other VCs actually invest in?” <a href="https://twitter.com/shanley/status/417029992707420160">Link</a></em></p> <p>@Shanley objected to Paul’s response to the controversy, saying that “proof is in the $$$, not the comments,” regarding his investment decisions.</p> <p>It’s an interesting point. We have access to data that allows us to look into Y Combinator a bit. Given the celebrity of the group, there is more public information on its efforts than it might otherwise warrant. </p> <p>I pointed out to @Shanley that “you could map [a list of YC companies] against Crunchbase data and come up with a pretty good idea [of the gender breakdown in YC firms] in an hour.” I’m on staycation, but she encouraged me to do some digging, and since I can’t resist a spreadsheet, I looked into two Y Combinator classes.</p> <p>As TechCrunch <a href="http://techcrunch.com/2013/03/26/y-combinator-female-founders-percent-demo-day/">reported recently</a>, Y Combinator’s Winter 2013 class founder makeup was more than 10% female (10.8%, if I am calculating properly). That’s a data point.</p> <p>I pulled up the company lists for Y Combinator’s Summer classes of 2005 and 2006, and <a href="https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Arid0pQ6Ow01dC1WSm1xU3B3UmFtdWhSWl9FYWVrSlE&amp;usp=sharing">compiled a list</a> of their founders by number and by number of women. (Caveat: This data was often a pain to track down, and in more than one case I am only mostly sure that I have it right. I am on vacation, so this is what you get. If you see an error, fire over a tweet.) </p> <p>Here’s what I came up with:</p> <p><strong>Summer 2005</strong></p> <p>Founders: 17 - Female Founders: 0 - Percent Women: 0%</p> <p><strong>Summer 2006</strong></p> <p>Founders: 23 - Female Founders: 2 - Percent Women: 8.7%</p> <p>The class size of Y Combinator has grown massively since. Winter 2013 for example had 111 founders, of which 12 were women.</p> <p>The Summer 2006 class shows that one year into its life, Y Combinator was funding companies that had female founders, just not that many (20% of the companies in that class had a woman in their founding cadre). That percentage has likely both gone up and down since, given the natural fluctuation of founding teams’ makeup.</p> <p>TechCrunch reported something in its piece on the Winter 2013 class that I liked to hear:</p> <blockquote class="large"> <p>Y Combinator partner Jessica Livingston told me today that this is not the result of any deliberate “affirmative action” type initiative on the part of its partners. YC is simply seeing a greater number of talented women apply for its program, she said. Also, Livingston said, more of the female founders in the Winter 2013 class are serving as team leaders in the CEO role than they’d seen in any other past class.</p> </blockquote> <p><em>(I’m about as boring a person as they come here in SF (male, straight, non-religious: I’m a caricature of dull), but gender neutrality and equality are issues that matter very much to me. I was lucky enough to be raised in a family in which the same expectations were leveled on us kids regardless of our gender. I’m going to have kids some day, something that I’m very much looking forward to. I want at least one of each gender. And I want my daughter(s) to have the exact same shot in life as my son(s).</em></p> <p><em>So even though I’m boring, I care about this.)</em></p> <p>–</p> <p>What should the percentage of female founders be in Y Combinator? Should it be 50-50? I think that that should be the goal. That said, I think that we should put more emphasis right now on the <em>change</em> in the ratio. If it’s becoming more balanced, that’s good thing and we’re making progress. The faster the better, in my view.</p> <p>Do I think that it was due to sexism of its investors that in its first class, Y Combinator had no female founders? I don’t think that we have evidence to state that it was. Do I smile to hear that more women are applying, and that the ratio is changing? You bet I do.</p> tag:thenewradical.com,2014:Post/bitcoin-750-yolo 2013-11-18T13:43:23-08:00 2013-11-18T13:43:23-08:00 Bitcoin $750? YOLO <p>Bitcoin is now more interesting to watch than pornography, which on a Monday at work is really saying something. Bitcoin recently spiked to $750 on the Mt.Gox exchange. According to the BTC-e exchange, Bitcoin is trading for a more modest $607 per coin.</p> <p>Google trades for more than $1,000 per share, but Bitcoin is now worth more per unit than Apple stock (~$518).</p> <p>I have no idea what is going on. However, I can report that inbound interest is so large that if you attempt to buy Bitcoin through Coinbase, it will politely inform you that you can’t have any damn Bitcoin until Friday. Well, fine then.</p> <p>The Bitcoin boom of the past few days has been large enough that other currencies are seeing their value rise as, presumably, Bitcoin owners look to diversify their holdings. Litecoin, for example, has essentially doubled its value today.</p> <p>Call it Bitcoin leakage. Alright, have a chart:</p> <p><a href="http://i.imgur.com/4p67trf.jpg">chart</a></p> tag:thenewradical.com,2014:Post/rep-sam-johnson-of-texas-it-obviously-not-a-student-of-history 2013-11-10T17:42:02-08:00 2013-11-10T17:42:02-08:00 Rep. Sam Johnson Of Texas Is Not Quite A Student Of History <p>Rep. Sam Johnson is a veteran, and former prisoner war. He has thus suffered privation in the name of preserving and protecting the American Experiment far greater than I ever will endure myself. For that, I thank him.</p> <p>However, the good Representative appears to have at least a piece of his American history in twist, and as such I’d like to point out a few salient details that could go a long way towards clearing the air, and respecting the religious liberty that is so deeply codified into the document that details the rules for this our, again, American Experiment.</p> <p>Rep. Johnson recently wrote a short entry in response to the Air Force Academy - Johnson served in the Air Force - changing its rules so that uttering the phrase “so help me God” when stating Cadet Honor Code is now optional. This is in keeping with the religious rules of this country such that you are can participate in religious activity if you so desire (cadets may still say the words), but that it cannot be forced by the government onto any of it citizens in any form, period (this is why the new option to not say the words is in keeping with American law, the letter of the Constitution, and the spirit of those who wrote it). </p> <p>However, Rep. Johnson is opposed to the change, and wants to pass legislation in protest:</p> <blockquote> <p>In response to the U.S. Air Force Academy’s unilateral decision to make the phrase, ‘so help me God’ of the Cadet Honor Oath optional, I introduced H.R. 3416, a bill that would require congressional approval prior to any change to Oaths of Office. I was joined by original co-sponsor Congressman Pete Olson (TX-22).</p> <p>Our Founding Fathers declared we are, “One nation under God,” and you better believe I’ll fight like mad to keep it that way. I can tell you from experience, there are no atheists in foxholes. We are the land of the free because of the brave. Many people don’t know this, but when you survive a near-death experience, you realize that the only thing you had to hold on to was your faith in God.</p> </blockquote> <p>The good Representative has his facts backwards. Our Founding Fathers, such as they were (deist, agnostic, Christian, moral of varying degrees, slaveholders, not, and so forth) did not say that. </p> <p>The Declaration of Independence, yes, does mention a “Creator,” but only after it gets past the phrase “Nature’s God,” so I am not sure how far that gets us. </p> <p>However, in the actual fundamental document of these United States - recall that Declaration of Independence was written far closer in time to the Articles of Confederation than the Constitution (11 years!) - there is no mention of God. </p> <p>Now, Rep. Johnson brings up: “One nation under God.” As you certainly know by now, my dear friend, those words were added to the yet nascent - in comparison - Pledge of Allegiance in 1954, and not in a time period in which the Founding Fathers were still corporeal.</p> <p>It’s also worth noting that the bit about God in the Pledge was not added until more than 60 after the Pledge was first conceived. So, it’s not even close to original to the piece of Americana that it attaches itself.</p> <p>Also, as a part of the Flag Code it’s unconstitutional, and will eventually be stricken, I presume.</p> <p>To our friend Rep. Johnson, please respect the words that the Founding Fathers did indeed write down because they really meant it:</p> <blockquote class="large"> <p>Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.</p> </blockquote> <p>Those words work for me.</p> tag:thenewradical.com,2014:Post/email-and-pitches-and-pr 2013-08-15T15:17:00-07:00 2013-08-15T15:17:00-07:00 Email And Pitches And PR <p>Over the past few weeks, I’ve been hanging out with the PR industry more than usual. This kicked off after I was on a panel the other week at a PR shindig talking about, well, PR and technology writing.</p> <p>It’s been nice, really, as people in PR tend to be courteous, and willing to have a drink and a laugh. So there’s that. </p> <p>I want to make two quick points that have come up through my recent conversations that are worth scribbling down, if you’ll allow me the moment:</p> <ol> <li> <p>Pitching. PR denizens always want to know what “works.” Often the answer is: Nothing. Nearly nothing that I write is based on pitches. I honestly can’t recall the last time that I wrote an article following a blind pitch that caught my eye.</p> <p>This almost surprises some people in PR, as if they thought that most of what I wrote was originally borne as the idea of someone else. No, not really, and nearly never. Just something that I felt should be said out loud.</p> </li> <li><p><a href="mailto:alexw@techcrunch.com">alexw@techcrunch.com</a>. When I joined TechCrunch I didn’t really announce my new email address in an enduring fashion. One tweet on the day that I joined. So, my total email inflow dramatically declined. This has been lovely, but ultimately unfair. I should be just as reachable as anyone else. Feel free to say hi.</p></li> </ol> <p>I am bad at email. But I will do my best to read yours. </p> tag:thenewradical.com,2014:Post/techcrunch 2013-08-12T11:13:17-07:00 2013-08-12T11:13:17-07:00 TechCrunch <p>Since I’ve joined the TechCrunch crew, I’ve been asked a similar set of questions by quite a few people. I love you all, but repeating myself is becoming dull. So, here are some answers:</p> <p><em>Q: How is it going at TechCrunch?</em></p> <p>A: So far everyone has been exceptionally kind and welcoming. I’m having oodles of fun, and dig my new coworkers. Also, there is free jerky in the office, which is a key perk.</p> <p><em>Q: Ugh, Alex, TechCrunch? I freakin’ hate TechCrunch!</em></p> <p>A: I really don’t get this one. Some people appear to have a personal animus for TC that confuses me. It’s a group of very smart, hardworking people, who really give a shit about what they do. They love this stuff.</p> <p>Every news outlet is different, of course, and TC does grant its writers a bit more flexibility than others <a href="http://techcrunch.com/2013/08/06/i-built-a-windows-phone-app-and-it-freaking-sucks/">to stretch their legs</a>. I personally love this, and think that it <a href="http://techcrunch.com/2013/07/23/lets-date-adds-flirt-notes-to-help-users-get-noticed-by-people-theyre-interested-in/">adds to the site’s character</a>. If I only wrote long posts involving financial mathmagic, it would become boring. So, a little steam off the top on the occasion is healthy.</p> <p>At TNW we had our Shareables channel, which was a similar sort of thing.</p> <p><em>Q: What about TNW?</em></p> <p>A: I love the TNW team, and am incredibly proud of what the blog and larger company have become. They are going to continue to do great stuff. Hopefully I’ll be back in Amsterdam in April. </p> <p><em>Q: I guess TechCrunch is alright, but I don’t like $author_x!</em></p> <p>A: Fuck you. Kidding. If you don’t like someone, don’t read their stuff. Simple. I’m sure that I bore the tears off some of our readers. It’s part of the gig.</p> <p><em>Q: Is what you cover going to change?</em></p> <p>A: Frankly, no. I’m still working on tech finance, tech policy, and Microsoft. I’m also digging on some Yahoo stuff at the moment. So, mostly the same bits that I covered at TNW.</p> <p><em>Q: Will you cover my startup?</em></p> <p>A: Probably not. There are, however, a number of fine people at TechCrunch who you should talk to.</p> <p><em>Q: Are you happy?</em></p> <p>A: Yes, very.</p> tag:thenewradical.com,2014:Post/parsing-the-900m-surface-rt-writedown 2013-07-18T15:04:00-07:00 2013-07-18T15:04:00-07:00 Parsing The $900M Surface RT Writedown <p>Today Microsoft dropped a $900 million bomb onto the tech world in the form of a writedown stemming from “inventory adjustments” regarding the Surface RT tablet hybrid.</p> <p>Holy ouch.</p> <p>That cost the firm $0.07 per share, and given that investors didn’t quite know that it was coming, it helped Microsoft miss expectations, and firmly decline 6% in after-hours trading. That’s what, around $18 billion in evaporated market capitalization? Not all Surface RT related, of course, but that $900 million was no small part of the generally weak report.</p> <p>Office 365 is doing great, as an aside. It’s on a $1.5 billion run rate now, up 50% in just a few months.</p> <p>But the Surface RT charge is almost comically large. How was it calculated? From what did it stem? Twitter acquaintance of my Jay Yarow has some news via Microsoft:</p> <blockquote class="large"> <p>The charge reflects the new market value of the Surface RTs that are in Microsoft’s inventory, the company’s IR boss, Chris Suh explained to us over the phone. </p> <p>He said Microsoft believes this new price point will help it start selling Surface RTs. He says Microsoft remains “100% committed” to the Surface business.</p> </blockquote> <p>Right. The 100% committed part is actually true, if you were wondering. But the math here is crazy. If the $900 million charge “reflects the new market value of the Surface RTs that are in Microsoft’s inventory.” Following their $150 per unit price cut at the lower storage SKU, for example, Microsoft has 6 million Surface RT units that it just had to cut the value of.</p> <p>Holy hell. That can’t be right.</p> <p>According to my IRL BFF and Arch Rival Mary Jo Foley, the writedown is a bit broader than what Microsoft indicated above: “The write-off also includes parts and accessories, according to Hood on the call.” </p> <p>Ok, but that doesn’t come close to sorting out the cost differential that appears to be this side of ludicrous.</p> <p>A few ideas: Microsoft simply misread the market so massively that it has millions of unsold Surface RT tablets in boxes, thus making the ~$150 writedown fit into the $900 million figure.</p> <p>Or Microsoft is simply not valuing its remaining Surface RT hardware at the $350 per unit current cost of the basement SKU. Assuming a $300 writedown per unit, we could expect around 3 million units in boxes, sans calculations for other dongles and accouterments. </p> <p>I doubt they are making such a broad reduction in stated value for their hardware.</p> <p>Steven Sinofsky, former Surface and Windows boss, told myself and other gathered reporters that the Surface line was “a real business.” The implication was that Microsoft was not selling them at a loss, at first.</p> <p>That appears to no longer be the case.</p> <p>I’ve been calling channel clearing on the Surface RT line for some time now, generally to be at least partially rebuffed by Microsoft. I am feeling somewhat vindicated.</p> <p>But really, they have to get those devices out so they can release their coming - it had better be coming - hardware refresh.</p> tag:thenewradical.com,2014:Post/about-those-nokia-windows-phone-sales-figures 2013-07-18T12:09:00-07:00 2013-07-18T12:09:00-07:00 About those Nokia Windows Phone sales figures <p>Ingrid has the latest on Nokia’s financial performance:</p> <blockquote class="large"> <p>More negative numbers for Nokia today, as the company reported its quarterly earnings for Q2, but it also noted sales of 7.4 million Window Phone-powered Lumia devices getting sold — the most in any quarter yet.</p> </blockquote> <p>Nokia remains an unhealthy company mired in a messy struggle to rebuild its business from the ground up as a public company. It’s no small task. Quarterly pressure from disgruntled investors remains high. </p> <p>Though it might prefer at the moment to be a private firm, Nokia is public, granting us access to its performance data. The company is kind enough to release the number of Windows Phone handsets it sells each quarter. As Ingrid stated above, Nokia moved 7.4 million of its Windows Phone-based Lumia devices in its last three month period.</p> <p>Third-party data <a href="http://thenextweb.com/mobile/2013/07/15/nokias-low-cost-lumia-520-is-the-most-popular-global-window-phone-device-commanding-13-3-market-share/">indicates</a> that Nokia controls roughly 85% of the Windows Phone market worldwide. The math is simple:</p> <blockquote class="large"> <p>7.4/0.85 = 8.7 million Windows Phone handsets were sold in the second quarter of 2013.</p> </blockquote> <p>That compares favorably to the first quarter sum which was also based on Nokia’s sales tally was 5.6 million devices, and its then market share of around 80%, indicating total sales of 7 million. </p> <p>Nokia sold 4.4 million Windows Phone devices in the final quarter of 2012.</p> <p>So, Windows Phone saw its quarterly shipments grow by 1.7 million in the quarter, or 24%. That’s a healthy growth rate for the handset line, though it is not a pace that will quickly see Windows Phone begin to challenge either iOS or Android.</p> <p>If Windows Phone was to keep up its most current quarter’s growth rate in the following two quarters, in the final three months of 2013, Windows Phone will sell around 13.4 million devices. However, the percentage growth rate of the platform will likely slow as its total unit volume increases; compound interest becomes steep rather quickly.</p> <p>A small caveat: Windows Phone OEMs that are not Nokia aren’t doing well. </p> <p>If you deduct Nokia’s share of Windows Phone handsets sold from the total sum, from the first to second quarter, non-Nokia OEMs sold 100,000 fewer devices, slipping from 1.4 million to 1.3 million.</p> <p>Nokia’s per quarter delta of +1.8 million bests all other hardware providers’ offerings combined. </p> <p>Windows Phone is growing, and growing top heavy. </p> tag:thenewradical.com,2014:Post/brute-force-inbox-zero 2013-05-19T21:22:57-07:00 2013-05-19T21:22:57-07:00 Brute force inbox zero <p>It’s time. I’m writing this as short chronicle. </p> <p>I have had bad email management since I joined Gmail either in late middle school, or early high school. The time to fix this is now.</p> <p>I hereby swear to be more inbox proactive. However, I cannot pay for past sins without a complete revival. </p> <p>Current inbox status:</p> <p><img src="http://i.imgur.com/L5T12ic.png" alt="Inbox"></p> <p>So I did <a href="http://www.zdnet.com/blog/btl/how-to-mark-all-unread-emails-as-read-in-gmail-and-more/80754">this</a>, and it worked. Took Gmail about 2 minutes of “Still Working” to get it done. New inbox:</p> <p><img src="http://i.imgur.com/1MVfIds.png" alt="New2"></p> <p>How about that.</p> <p>A</p> <p>ps. If I owe you an email, email me. Sorry for the inconvenience. </p> tag:thenewradical.com,2014:Post/the-notcuriouscaseofthenextwebretweetcurve 2013-04-10T12:27:09-07:00 2013-04-10T12:27:09-07:00 The Not-Curious-Case-of-The-Next-Web-Retweet-Curve <p>In response to this article on <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/terokuittinen/2013/04/10/the-curious-case-of-the-next-web-retweet-curve/">Forbes</a>, I shall lean on the <a href="http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/05/fake-twitter-followers-becomes-multimillion-dollar-business/">New York Times</a>:</p> <blockquote class="large"> <p>Zee Kane, the chief executive of The Next Web, said the company was aware of the accounts but had never paid for fake followers or retweets. He said a likely explanation was that the company had created a tool, called spread.us, that allows people to automatically tweet its content. He said the company stopped marketing that tool eight months ago because it did not add quality traffic to the site.</p> </blockquote>