Business, Cloud Tech, Communications Tech, Docusign, Social Media

Momentum 2014 Conference Signups Are Open

It seems that tech conferences give their attendees just enough time to recover before announcing a new get-together in San Francisco. Hot on the heels of Dreamforce 2013 last month, Docusign has announced their annual tech conference Momentum 2014 and signups are already available online.

The official website claims it will be “3 days of unparalleled networking and discovery” and it should live up to that statement if Momentum 2013 is any indication. Last year’s event gave Docusign a chance to showcase major advances in e-signature and cloud and the permeation of e-signature into almost every major industry. This year’s emphasis is on becoming 100% digital, and attendance promises “actionable strategies to cut costs, conserve resources and make your company truly unstoppable.”

Like any good technology conference, Momentum 2014 hosts numerous tech celebrity speakers. Docusign executives Keith Krach (CEO), Tom Gonser (CSO) and Roger Erickson (VP of Customer Success) will all have speaking events. The two guest stars this year are John Hinshaw (VP of Technology and Operations) from HP and Zach Nelson (CEO) from cloud software company Netsuite.

Momentum 2014 has two events March 4-6 event running in Docusign’s home in San Francisco and a London conference taking place on June 4. Early bird passes are currently selling for $795 (compared to a normal price of $995) with a 3-for-2 bundle going for $1,990 and an 8-for-5 at $4,975. Docusign has always had a strong tradition of content marketing, and the Momentum announcement combined with their recent 2014 Winter Release indicates a major effort to catch the tech community’s attention before the year closes out.

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Going Green, International, Technology

Electronic Waste Expected To Hit 65.4 Million Tons By 2017

A recently published study has found that recycling of electronics may be more important than ever. Profiling 180 countries, the study determined that the increasing integration of electronics into mainstream life has resulted in a massive build-up of “e-waste”, expected to hit 65.4 million tons in 2017. Electronics

The US alone was reported to generate 9.4 million tons every year making it the largest source of e-waste in the world. China came in second at 7.3 million tons per year.

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Image courtesy of US Army Environmental Command via flickrcc

An unfortunate cleanup solution for developed countries has been to simply ship it to lesser-developed countries and dump e-waste there, where locations for proper recycling do not exist and attempts to scrap it result in exposure to harmful chemicals and heavy metals – often by child workers. The US ships 26,500 tons of e-waste to poorer countries each year.

The EU has drafted legislation in hopes of addressing the problem, and Britain will be the first country to implement the changes. New laws coming into effect in the UK starting 2014 require EU member states to recycle 45% of electronic products place on the market.

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New Gadgets, Technology, Transportation

McLaren Announces New Windshield Based On Fighter Jet Technology

Sports car designer McLaren recently announced that they intend to do away with windshield wipers in favor of new technology used in fighter jets. Dismissing windshield wipers as an “archaic technology”, McLaren cars utilizing the new gadget could be coming out as early as 2015.

Image courtesy of Basheer Tome via flickrcc

McLaren design chief Frank Stephenson says that he was inspired when he noticed that military jets don’t have windshield wipers for low-level flight, and that he managed to find out why from a source within the military at great effort. The technology Stephenson is referring to is thought to be running 30khz ultrasound waves through the windshield, creating a vibrating “forcefield” that keeps the windshield clear of rain, small debris and even insect residue.

Mainstream integration of the technology could bring multiple benefits to drivers, mostly that a sufficiently low price could result in cost savings from not having to replace wiper blades. There is also the possibility of a small boost in fuel efficiency, since the wiper blades disrupt airflow going over the vehicle and generate resistance.

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Business, Google, Microsoft

Senior Microsoft Engineer Quits To Join Google

The Microsoft-Google rivalry is heating up once again as senior Microsoft engineer Blaise Agüera y Arcas jumps ship to go work at Google. Agüera y Arcas was involved on a variety of project at Microsoft, but was a key figure on Bing Maps and Microsoft’s panorama-generating Photosynth software. Anonymous commenters stated that he was going to Google to work on machine learning.

Microsoft has reacted aggressively to losing high profile employees to Google in the past, specifically the incident with Kai-Fu Lee. Google hired Mr. Lee, a Microsoft VP at the time, to run one of their facilities, which resulted in Microsoft filing a lawsuit that was settled in 2005. Testimonies from that lawsuit uncovered a now popular recollection from engineer Mark Lucovsky, who alleged that Microsoft CEO Steven Ballmer threw a chair across the room after Mr. Lucovsky told him he was quitting to join Google.

Agüera y Arcas joined Microsoft in 2006 with the acquisition of his Seadragon Software startup, and gained some fame when he hosted a TED talk on Photosynth in 2007 regarding the translation of 2-D images to 3-D. A Microsoft spokesman stated that “he was a great colleague and we wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

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Business, Google, Robots, Technology

Google Acquires Robotics Company Boston Dynamics

Google announced on Friday that they had completed an acquisition of robotics company Boston Dynamics. The company has gained recognition for its animal-like robot designs that balance on most terrain and are capable of running faster than humans.

Boston Dynamics is best known for their “Big Dog” robot model, which became famous in a viral video demonstrating the bot’s ability to walk in snow and ice, and even stay upright after being kicked. They have also uploaded a more recent product demo of  the quick but noisy “Wildcat”, a galloping four-legged robot that can reach speeds of about 16 mph.

This is the latest in a recent Google trend of acquiring robotics pioneers in the US and Japan, indicating either a push at developing commercial robotics products in the next few years or the more the popular theory; that Google is developing killer robots akin to the Terminator.

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Business, Communications Tech, Social Media, Startup Highlights

Startup Highlights: Seth Bannon And Amicus

Tech startups that intend to streamline business activities tend to hog the spotlight, but ultimately use of technology is about closing the distance between a consumer and a provider and that’s the mission of Seth Bannon and his company Amicus. Amicus has the ambitious goal of overhauling the way non-profit organizations connect with their donors and supporters, making it easier for all parties involved.

Amicus’s most recent funding run was completed in 2012, but Inc.com recently released an article on Amicus detailing Bannon’s rise from rags to (relative) riches. A dramatic conclusion to the funding round in October 2012 came in the middle of Hurricane Sandy, when the storm knocked out the power in Brad Gillespie’s neighborhood. Gillespie was a partner at IA Ventures poised to sign $3.2 million in Bannon’s direction but delayed by the storm. Luckily, technology was able to save the day. “I downloaded the papers Seth sent and used DocuSign to sign it while on the bridge,” Gillespie says, “surrounded by all these people hanging out and drinking.”

Amicus offers non-profits looking to raise funds and awareness a modern alternative to cold-calling and passing out flyers. Harnessing the reach of social media, Amicus operates on the knowledge that requests for money or favors are going to hit a lot harder coming from friends and family than a stranger. Amicus social network connections are cross referenced with target outreach populations, then those connections are tasked with contacting any of their friends that might be interested in the outreach. Successful contact rewards the caller with points and prizes. It is a surprisingly old school outreach strategy given the tech nature of the company.

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Business, Marissa Meyer, Yahoo

Marissa Meyer Wants To Buy Imgur

Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer has already overseen the acquisition of a multitude of start-ups under Yahoo’s banner, and she seems to have set her sights on imgur, the famous image hosting website associated with reddit. The news comes from an informed but unnamed source and Yahoo has so far declined to comment.

The Atlantic recently published a lengthy, article/narrative on the founding of imgur and its current state today. While initially designed for reddit, imgur has overtaken the ubiquitous social media site and currently boasts 100 million unique monthly users.

Yahoo also made headlines earlier this year with its $1.1 billion acquisition of Tumblr, though Meyer was quick to reassure users that Yahoo would not be branding on the site and Tumblr would largely continue to function as normal. Despite this the reaction of sister site reddit to the news is largely hostile with discussion of simply making a new imgur and relocating rather than support a change in management.

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