Daily Archives: February 23, 2014

7 Shocking Stats & Trends about the Internet – Infographic


If you are involved in an Internet business, or just curious about where the Internet is heading, this infographic will interest you.

If you’re involved in a startup, it’s important to analyze major trends that are likely to make an impact in the next few years. For example, you could look for the emerging tech that might give you a strategic business advantage if you’re an early adopter.

So here you go, we present to you our latest infographic — Seven Shocking Stats & Trends about the Internet.

7 Shocking Stats & Trends About the Internet Infographic

- See more at: http://www.staff.com/blog/7-shocking-stats-trends-in-the-internet/#sthash.jsECujAb.dpuf

The Essence of Wisdom2.0


Stay curious. Have a beginners mind. Know you always have a choice in how you feel or what you do. You are not your emotions, rather they are a part of you.

I was reminded of all of this as I returned to my third Wisdom2.0 conference. I wasn’t even going to go. I decided that after two years of attending, I didn’t need to attend. I’d save some money and time and focus on other things. When a ticket was gifted to me, I made the choice to go back. I was grateful for the opportunity and couldn’t believe I was going, even when I thought I didn’t need to go. I jumped at the chance and was one of the dozens of people there representing Google.

Wisdom2.0 is about connecting and learning more about how each of us, whether we work in or use technology, can make the world a little better, less stressed out, and can become more aware to give back or contribute to the world. Over 2000 of us huddled in the bowels of the Mariott Marquis in San Francisco over the course of four days. Greeting, learning, growing, listening, and teaching each other. We started as a conference, and after the three days, as Congressman Tim Ryan proposed, we ended as a movement.

Wisdom2.0 is about the people and their actions, their companies, or personal missions to give back or create. Each of us there was hungry to learn. I felt drawn to share and connect, like most of us. Others were curious, there for work or to check out what this scene was all about.

Wisdom2.0 is about learning and teaching others how to be less stressed, by staying in the moment and not freaking out about the future, or dwelling in the past. Some of the greatest teachers of our time were on hand to remind and reiterate the techniques to reduce stress, clear your mind, and feel good where you are, in whatever you do.

I continued to learn new things. I engaged with dozens of interesting and motivated like minded people. I felt re-energized to help create my vision of an authentic life where I share my mindfulness side with work and help influence others to take this on so they can live happier, fuller, less congested lives.

I was gently reminded that all of us everyday can choose to be authentic. We choose how we show up to work, to our families, or how we play and interact with others. We can buy products from companies that give back (Give-nesses as 10 year old founder of Make a Stand Lemonade Vivienne calls it) or support and build companies that aren’t serving our planet or ourselves other than to make money. The choice is yours.

Here’s my key takeaways:

Thoughts are distracting.

As speaker Loic Le Meur says in his own article on his Wisdom2.0 experience, “Mediation created a new space in my brain.” I feel the same way. I started meditating two and a half years ago, and it’s provided a way to instantly drop into stillness, and center myself. Don’t let the name intimidate, it just means to be aware. Even if it’s noticing how I walk down the street, feel the wind on my face, that counts.

We’re all in this together.

Ariana Huffington said this in her keynote speech. We are a collective consciousness. Our actions, non-actions, words, and how we chose to spend our money, time, and efforts all matter and effect many beyond just you and who you touch. It’s a ripple effect, and every single one of us has that power. If you don’t think you have it, you’re wrong. If you don’t believe it, try it. After all, what do you have to lose?

Wisdom is consciousness, the body, and authenticity.

What is wisdom? Is it passed down generation to generation? Is it what we innately know without reading a textbook or taking a class? Is it from taking a class? Is it how our body feels or reacts? Is it what we as a society have learned over time? It is all of this. It is yourself. It is everyone together. It is also your own authenticity — the ability to show up as your full self, without putting on a mask for your boss, your friend, your kids. It is feeling fear, sadness, hurt, anger, and joy, and being ok with all of it as part of yourself.

I leave the conference with ideas and courage in how I can contribute as an agent of change, my own self-declared purpose, for myself and others to lead a life filled with more engagement, happiness, and less stress. Stay curious, my friends.

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When Founders And Investors Split Over An Acquisition Offer


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Editor’s note: Tomio Geron is head of content at startup Exitround. This is part of a series of posts on the tech M&A market. Follow him on Twitter @tomiogeron.

For one founder who recently sold his startup, it was the culmination of a long journey. At the same time, the founder, who spoke to me on the condition of anonymity, had problems during the acquisition process, feeling bullied by a venture investor.

The investor argued against a sale of the startup, and then after agreeing to the sale, proceeded to call the buyer and yell about terms of the deal. The investor also pushed for certain terms that the founder felt were unfair and benefited the investor.

The founder was pleased with the outcome but felt powerless to stop this investor from essentially steamrolling the process.

“They didn’t want to sell because, for them, the deal was too small,” the founder says. “Eventually our investors inserted themselves into the negotiations. They actually screwed things up for us because they demanded more and actually offended the buyers.”

This type of story rarely gets publicly told in Silicon Valley, since founders and investors don’t want to reveal how the sausage is made in negotiations — and more importantly don’t want to criticize each other in public and break Silicon Valley’s unspoken rule of positivity. But because of how venture capital is structured (more on this below), and because of the many startups that will need to sell without being able to raise more funding in the current environment, these types of situations are bound to come up.

Negotiating with a buyer is a challenge for founders in an acquisition. But negotiating with one’s own side — the investors — can be just as difficult, if not more so. These disagreements typically arise when startups get an offer to sell and the founders and venture investors disagree about what to do. These offers, even if relatively small in Silicon Valley terms — say $10 million or $20 million — can be “life-changing” for founders. But for venture investors, particularly with big funds ($300 million, $400 million or even $1 billion), smaller exits are not appealing. To explain why, we need to look at how traditional venture funds are structured.

Fund Economics

VCs typically want a good venture fund to make 3-5x their money. In other words, a fund with $250 million invested would have to return $750 million to $1.25 billion from the fund’s companies that are acquired, IPO, or are otherwise sold off in some form. A 4x return would net about a 2.5x distribution to the fund’s limited partners after fees to the general partners. So VCs depend on massive “home run” exits. For a $250 million fund, VCs would require at least three to four exits of $1 billion or 10 exits of $400 million. (This assumes a VC fund would get 20 percent of the exit price.)

As a result, smaller sub-$100 million exits aren’t that attractive to most large VCs, particularly if they have made a large investment. Many would rather not sell, and instead they roll the dice and hope for a larger outcome. “VCs often look at return on their money as opposed to IRR (as a metric). The fact that they made 4x (return) on $5 million over nine months on a $500 million fund: who cares?” says Villi Iltchev, EVP of corporate development at LifeLock.

To be clear, I’m not saying that all VCs are mistreating startups or behaving badly. I’m not even arguing that the investors’ actions described above are necessarily wrong. (Though it does explain why some founders privately complain about VCs.) And of course, unlike the investor described above, many investors do let their founders make the call on acquisition offers without pressuring them at all.

Aligning Interests

So while many VCs don’t like to talk about it, their immediate economic interests can diverge from their startups, particularly in smaller acquisitions, Iltchev says. “For founders, especially those who are not independently wealthy, their tolerance for risk is usually lower. VCs are in the business of managing risk on a portfolio basis. For founders an exit can be a once in a lifetime chance to change their life for their family. For investors the same transactions may be immaterial.”

This isn’t to say VCs (or founders) are necessarily at fault. The different economic interests are inherently part of the venture model. Other structures may evolve but this is now the dominant model. That certain investors don’t adhere to these fund economics and let founders make their own decisions is a credit to them and their long-term thinking to try to keep founders coming back to them for future investments.

There are also things that venture firms have done to better align interests of founders and investors. Founders Fund created Series FF stock, which gives founders more flexibility to sell shares. And many venture firms now allow founders to take a small percentage of “money off the table” in a secondary transaction to reduce the financial need for founders to sell early.

Different Investors

Of course, not all investors have the same interests. The larger a VC fund, and the more of their money they have invested in a company, the less likely they are to like a smaller exit. Smaller seed investors or micro-VC funds, which are proliferating, don’t need billion-dollar exits to return their funds, so they are happier with smaller exits — what Dave McClure calls a “Moneyball” model. This makes sense, since about 88 percent of tech acquisitions in the last five years with announced prices were less than $100 million, according to Capital IQ. Also, sites like AngelList and FundersClub enable more individuals to invest, and these individuals typically don’t push for massive exits.

Despite the potential conflict of interest I’ve described (i.e. founders want to sell but investors don’t), some venture investors will help negotiate a deal. Particularly for younger, less experienced founders, investors will get actively involved. And some smaller angels or micro-VC investors have less incentive to oppose smaller acquisitions so there can be less of a conflict. For example, seed stage investor Manu Kumar, founder of K9 Ventures, has negotiated acquisitions for a number of his startups.

Psychology

For founders it can be difficult to disagree with an investor on a sale. In particular, first-time founders often feel indebted to investors for taking a chance on them. So to turn around and say, “No we don’t agree with you,” can be hard to do.

Many VCs have rights they can use to try to block an acquisition. But most rarely use them, particularly if a founder makes a good case for a deal as the best possible outcome for a company. VCs do not want to be known as  “not founder friendly,” even if they hate a deal and feel it is unfair. But they’ll complain privately. Like the anonymous founder mentioned above, Iltchev has received calls and been yelled at by investors who are unhappy with a deal.

Buyer View

For buyers, of course, it’s complicated when sellers and investors aren’t on the same page. Buyers don’t want to negotiate with multiple parties in the same company. On the other hand, if a VC is calling a buyer, that can mean the founder has already decided to take the deal. “If the investor is calling me to negotiate terms, it is probably because they have already lost the battle with the founder and they are just trying to beat me up,” Iltchev says.

At top Silicon Valley buyers, it is standard to treat investors well, even if they don’t technically have to. For example in an acqui-hire – where a buyer just wants the team but not the product or IP — a buyer could just hire a startup team and not pay the investors anything. But most big Silicon Valley buyers want to stay on good terms with investors — who, after all, send them companies to buy — so they will try to make investors happy by paying back their original investment, if not more. (Non-Silicon Valley buyers do not necessarily play by these rules.)

I will be extremely cautious before ever accepting VC investment again and would only do it on my terms.

Founder Choices

The anonymous founder mentioned above, reflecting on the experience, says, “My advice would be to make sure you have someone who will stick with you not just when things are going well, but during the inevitable struggle that all startups face. It’s fine to have a strong investor who pushes you and fights for what they think is best for the company, but hopefully it’s not just what’s best for them. That said, I will be extremely cautious before ever accepting VC investment again and would only do it on my terms.”

For founders the best way to avoid these problems is to choose the right investor. Vet your investors and have honest conversations before they invest. Ask them what their return profile is and what kind of exit they’re expecting for your company, says Ursheet Parikh, former CEO of StorSimple, which was acquired by Microsoft, and a new partner at Mayfield Fund.

“Some investors may not appreciate you talking to any large companies early because they are concerned that these strategic buyers may either be a distraction or try to buy you early on the cheap,” he says.

That’ll give you an idea of what you are expected to deliver and whether you’re ready to accept that money and the strings attached. And have an honest conversation with the investor about what would happen if you disagreed with him or her on an acquisition offer. The more honest and transparent they are with you the better. Ultimately the more you prepare while choosing your investor, the better position you’ll be in when acquisition offers come in.

Image by Shutterstock

http://techcrunch.com/2014/02/22/when-founders-and-investors-split-over-an-acquisition-offer/

Yesterday Apple Fixed A Bug In iOS 7. It’s A Doozy


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Yesterday Apple announced a fix to a security bug in its iOS 7 system. Today Web security experts have parsed the patch to figure out what exactly the problem was… And apparently it’s a doozy.

Wired has all of the gory details:

“[The] terse description in Apple’s announcement yesterday had some of the internet’s top crypto experts wondering aloud about the exact nature of the bug. Then, as they began learning the details privately, they retreated into what might be described as stunned silence. “Ok, I know what the Apple bug is,” tweeted Matthew Green, a cryptography professor at Johns Hopkins. “And it is bad. Really bad.”

The culprit of what may be one of Apple’s biggest security snafus is an extra “goto” in one part of the authentication code, Wired reported. That spurious line of code bypasses the rest of the authentication protocols.

The bug could could allow hackers to intercept email and other communications that are meant to be encrypted, according to a Reuters report which was issued late on Friday night.

Meanwhile, ZDNet notes that macs may have been left vulnerable.

As ZDNet’s contributing editor Larry Seltzer wrote:

Make no mistake about it, this is a very serious bug. The bug makes it fairly straightforward to intercept and decrypt SSL/TLS communications, probably the most important security protocol there is today.

Here’re more details, on the patch from ZDNet.

Photo via Flickr user aditza121

http://techcrunch.com/2014/02/22/yesterday-apple-fixed-a-bug-in-ios-7-its-a-doozy/

Neiman Marcus Missed 60,000 Alerts As Hackers Stole Credit Card Info


Neiman Marcus Missed 60,000 Alerts As Hackers Stole Credit Card InfoExpand

Remember how Neiman Marcus revealed that hackers accessed credit card info for brick-and-mortar store customers? Turns out, during the eight-month period when hackers were snooping around the company’s system, they set off nearly 60,000 security alerts. That seems like a lot of pop-ups to casually dismiss.

BloombergBusinessweek says the internal company investigation into the hacking attack reveals that the card-stealing software hackers used was automatically deleted from the point-of-sale payment register system at the end of each day, sometimes triggering hundreds of alerts in the process. After four months of lurking, hackers were able to steal credit card data undetected from July through October of 2013.

So how did all these alerts go unheeded? Well, for a system this size, 60,000 alerts over a period of months only adds up to about one percent of daily log entries, Neiman Marcus spokeswoman Ginger Reeder told Businessweek. What’s more, Reeder says the hackers gave their malicious software a name nearly identical to the official payment software, making it tough to distinguish suspicious activity from false positives, the report states.

Perhaps even more perplexing: Neiman Marcus’s system could have been set to automatically block the malware as soon as it detected anomalous activity—but that feature was turned off because it was hampering legitimate maintenance programs.

The end result? Hackers took over a vulnerable server in the company’s point-of-sale system, evaded the other security measures in place, and after four months of scraping, made off with around 350,000 customer cards, 9,200 of which have since been used fraudulently.

Oh, and one more thing: internet security expert Aviv Raff told BloombergBusinessweek the Neiman Marcus hackers used a strikingly different method than the Target hack that was discovered around the same time. So now the authorities are on the hunt for two different hacking crews.

Sure wish those smart credit cards would get here already. [BloombergBusinessweek]

http://gizmodo.com/neiman-marcus-missed-60-000-alerts-as-hackers-stole-cre-1528778883

Facebook Might Actually Be Good For Your Brain (If You’re Dyslexic)


Facebook Might Actually Be Good For Your Brain (If You're Dyslexic)

I’m not a kid anymore (unless you’re being very charitable with your age guidelines), but I can only assume today’s parents are telling their kids “Facebook will rot yer brains.” In fact, the opposite might be true, according to a teeny, tiny little study from England. Especially for kids with dyslexia.

Yes, Owen Barden of the Centre for Culture & Disability Studies at Liverpool Hope University recently published a paper that says, contrary to what you might assume, that Facebook use can actually help kids who struggle with dyslexia overcome their literary challenges in a number of ways. Sounds strange, right? The entirely text-based format of Facebook (and most other social media) would seem like a hurdle for a kid who has trouble with reading and writing.

But as Barden explains in his research paper, children with reading difficulties actually flock toward Facebook’s text-based format:

Because dyslexia usually is defined in terms of significant difficulties with literacy, we might reasonably anticipate that the participants would see Facebook as stigmatising rather than levelling the playing field, because of the very public literacy events that it demands. However, the data indicate that far from shying away from Facebook because of fear of their difficulties with literacy being exposed, the participants enthusiastically embraced it. The students saw Facebook as a desirable presence in their education, one that supported inclusion.

In other words, compared to more rigorous venues like the classroom, kids feel less intimidated by reading or writing on Facebook. Cool!

Barden observed five areas of improvement among students who used Facebook: keeping track of deadlines; increased awareness and feeling of control over the learning process; better control of reading and writing rules; and the feeling that Facebook provides a platform to give and receive help when needed.

Caveat time: as mentioned above, this was an exceedingly small study—just a gathering of students from a single school in England. This study doesn’t look into the impact of home life, socioeconomic status, or any of a plethora of other contributing factors.

Still, it’s fascinating to think that Facebook might actually be benefitting students with learning challenges. Even if it’s simply serving as a neutral, un-intimidating platform for kids to get practice reading and writing goofy status updates, maybe that’s enough benefit to justify kids using Facebook (in moderation).

If nothing else, this study might arm kids with a scientific come-back when mom or dad starts crowing about Facebook being bad for the brain. [Research in Learning Technology via Daily Dot]

http://gizmodo.com/facebook-might-actually-be-good-for-your-brain-if-you-1528837450

7 stories to read this weekend


17 hours ago

3 Comments

Weekend Plans
Summary:Who is Jimmy Fallon, Presidency outsourced, everything that is wrong with Donald Trump, why do we hate Google buses, the last days of Ambercombie & yet another Texas politician who is ambitious. These and more stories are on reading menu this week.

Another week gone and this one was particularly hard for many reasons. I had to sift through many more articles, but these make the cut, mostly because they have a little sense of current relevance. I hope you enjoy them.

17 hours ago
Like this post? Share it!

Follow @om or @gigaom for more stories like this.

http://gigaom.com/2014/02/22/7-stories-to-read-this-weekend-85/

Belkin WeMo Home Automation Products Are Not Safe, Security Researchers Claim


Adriana Lee February 19, 2014 Cloud
Belkin WeMo Home Automation Products Are Not Safe, Security Researchers Claim

Security firm IOActive issued a surprise advisory Tuesday urging Belkin WeMo customers to halt use of their smart home products, thanks to its discovery of several vulnerabilities hackers could use to infiltrate home networks and connected home appliances, including thermostats, lights and other devices.

According to a report by Ars Technica, multiple notifications were sent to Belkin from IOActive as well as the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), but its failure to respond or address the holes—which include insufficient data encryption, insecure delivery of software updates and other issues—compelled the security researchers to issue the stern warning.

Update Feb 19, 2014 10:00AM PST: According to a ZDNet report, Belkin issued a statement late Tuesday indicating that the company had been in touch with IOActive before the advisory went out and patched five security holes.

ReadWrite reached out to Belkin via email, and the company said it has already addressed security flaws in its WeMo API server, WeMo firmware and WeMo apps, and that products with the recent firmware release (version 3949) are not vulnerable to malicious firmware attacks, including remote control or unauthorized monitoring of WeMo devices.

The company provided the following information:

Belkin has corrected the list of five potential vulnerabilities affecting the WeMo line of home automation solutions that was published in a CERT advisory on February 18. Belkin was in contact with the security researchers prior to the publication of the advisory, and, as of February 18, had already issued fixes for each of the noted potential vulnerabilities via in-app notifications and updates. Users with the most recent firmware release (version 3949) are not at risk for malicious firmware attacks or remote control or monitoring of WeMo devices from unauthorized devices as described in the report. Belkin urges such users to download the latest app from the App Store (version 1.4.2) or Google Play Store (version 1.1.2) and then upgrade the firmware version through the app.Specific fixes Belkin has issued include:

1) An update to the WeMo API server on November 5, 2013 that prevents an XML injection attack from gaining access to other WeMo devices.

2) An update to the WeMo firmware, published on January 24, 2014, that adds SSL encryption and validation to the WeMo firmware distribution feed, eliminates storage of the signing key on the device, and password protects the serial port interface to prevent a malicious firmware attack

3) An update to the WeMo app for both iOS (published on January 24, 2014) and Android (published on February 10, 2014) that contains the most recent firmware update

The post will be updated if more information becomes available.

http://readwrite.com/2014/02/19/halt-belkin-wemo-use-warn-security-researchers#awesm=~owEBT2RUkif486

LinkedIn Is Looking For The Next Nate Silver


http://readwrite.com/2014/02/19/linkedin-publishing-platform-expansion#awesm=~owEBdLZIPc9GYA

Now 25,000 members can join the likes of Richard Branson and Bill Gates in publishing on the professional network.

Owen Thomas February 19, 2014

Call it Harvard Business Review meets Tumblr. LinkedIn is expanding its publishing efforts beyond essays from a few hundred hand-selected business leaders to original pieces from its broader membership.

LinkedIn is initially allowing 25,000 members to post pieces to the site. Unlike the work of its high-faluting Influencers program, which features the likes of Jack Welch and Sallie Krawcheck, LinkedIn expects the output of this broader group to be more technical and practical. The site will display these posts to members’ contacts—not the broad public distribution that Influencers get.

The professional network, still known to many as a job-hunting site, has been pushing its media ambitions for some time. The goal of this new program, says executive editor Dan Roth, is to let members show off their skills and knowledge in a concrete form. Or as he put it, “You’re building your professional permanent record.”

A Farm Team For LinkedIn’s Influencers

While Influencers and the new member publishers differ in how far their content can spread, LinkedIn hopes to tie them together.

“If this thing works the way we believe it will, there should be some amazing voices that come out of it,” Roth told us.

He cited the example of Nate Silver, the sports and politics analyst who recently jumped from the New York Times to ESPN. “The Nate Silver of LinkedIn, someone who’s writing amazing content for her particular field, and just starts getting more and more attention, we take that person and she becomes an Influencer and gets enormous distribution,” Roth said.

For now, members who haven’t been invited to publish will have to wait to hear more, according to a help page on LinkedIn’s site:

We’re in the process of rolling out this feature to all members but it may take a while. We’ll let you know as the feature rolls out to more members and when you’re able to publish posts on LinkedIn.

In the meantime, here’s a look at the publishing tool LinkedIn is offering:

Google Fiber May Be Coming To More U.S. Cities


Selena Larson February 19, 2014 Web
http://readwrite.com/2014/02/19/google-fiber-expansion#awesm=~owEAKsqvxSVq3h

Google is in talks with 34 cities in nine metro areas across the United States to introduce Google Fiber, Internet that’s up to 100 times faster than broadband, the company announced today.

Selected cities will have to complete a “fiber-ready checklist” with information that can speed up planning and construction. In the meantime, Google Fiber will begin detailing costs and timelines for the new fiber-optic network.

Google Fiber is already rolling out in Kansas City (in both Kansas and Missouri); Provo, Utah; and Austin, Texas. Here’s the list of newly proposed cities:

  • Atlanta, including surrounding areas Avondale Estates, Brookhaven, College Park Decatur, East Point, Hapeville, Sandy Springs, and Smyrna
  • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • Salt Lake City, Utah
  • San Antonio, Texas
  • Phoenix, Arizona, including surrounding areas Scottsdale and Tempe
  • Portland, Oregon, including surrounding areas Beaverton, Hillsboro, Gresham, Lake Oswego, and Tigard
  • Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, including surrounding areas Carrborro, Cary, Chapel Hill, Durham, Garner, Morrisville, and Raleigh
  • San Jose, California, including surrounding areas Santa Clara, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, and Palo Alto

Lead image by Flickr user meneame comunicacions, CC 2.0

http://readwrite.com/2014/02/19/google-fiber-expansion#awesm=~owEAKsqvxSVq3h