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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Uncategorized

Ban the word bossy. Sheryl Sandberg lights up TEDWomen 2013

TED Blog

“It’s nice to look out and see so many women. That’s not my norm,” Sheryl Sandberg comments drily as she takes her place onstage at TEDWomen 2013  at the SFJazz Center. She’s here to talk with co-host Pat Mitchell, in a Q&A follow-up to her incendiary 2010 TED Talk, given at a TEDWomen three years before.

First, Mitchell asks her to remember the process of putting together that talk. The subject matter wasn’t her first choice; in fact, Sandberg recalls that she’d had absolutely no intention of talking about anything so personal. “In the business world, you never talk about being a woman, because someone might notice you’re a woman,” she says. Friends told her that if she gave a “woman’s” talk, it would end her career. She realized she was scared. And then she realized that she had to face her fear. So she put aside the wonky…

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Cloud Tech, Internet, Technology

Salesforce Announces New App Salesforce1 At Dreamforce 2013

If Dreamforce 2013 drilled anything into your head, it should be that Salesforce.com believes mobile is the future. The theme started with Marc Benioff’s key note and culminated in the announcement of the cleverly named Salesforce1, a mobile app that attempts to bring all of Salesforce.com’s mobile products under one roof. There is so speculation on what exactly Salesforce1 will offer but what does seem clear is that a priority is to offer a single platform with unmatched customization for both business owners who use the technology and developers who want to create apps for it.

Salesforce1 has taken an API-first approach that allows developers a lot more control over how they take advantage of the app. An app market called AppExchange has also been retooled on the Salesforce website, allowing developers to put their apps up for consumption.

Big cloud companies have already jumped on board and uploaded apps that are already available for Salesforce1 or will be very soon. Docusign CEO discussed the integration with Salesforce last month, and their app on AppExchange already has plenty of positive outlooks. Though not crowd favorites yet, other big companies like LinkedIn and Dropbox that have had past integration with Salesforce also have apps already presented.

Salesforce1 clearly has plenty of backing, and is continuing to ride the building wave of industry hype. That said Salesforce1 at its core is a refinement of existing products, not the creation of a new one. It’s hard to say whether or not it will have a significant impact but by making it the focus of Dreamforce 2013, Salesforce has certainly made sure that all eyes are on cloud mobile for a little while.

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