Cloud Tech, Docusign, Internet, Marissa Meyer, Salesforce, Yahoo

2014 – The Year Mobile Won

In an appearance on Bloomberg TV, Google CEO Eric Schmidt outlined his thoughts on 2014, general tech trends and Google’s biggest mistake that it plans to correct in 2014. Among other topics, a major sticking point was that if 2013 was to be the year of the mobile, then 2014 will be the year that mobile has won.

Mobile has been on a sharp rise for the last few years, and in 2012 many predicted that 2013 would show the best has mobile has to offer but other tech giants seem to agree that the best is yet to come.

Cloud giant Salesforce.com and CEO Marc Benioff dedicated their famed cloud convention Dreamforce to highlight the release of Salesforce1, a condensation of their business suite onto mobile. Benioff and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer continued to have a keynote on how going mobile-first was the way of the future.

In a lot of ways Salesforce is cloud, with no other true competitor in sight and cloud has always been about digitizing technological function to make it more fluid. Taking cloud services to mobile seems to be a logical extension of that.

Many important cloud based companies have either already endorsed Salesforce1 by supplying apps for the platform, made their own mobile improvement efforts or both in the case of companies like Docusign (whose CEO Keith Krach already collaborates with Salesforce) and their recent announcement of their 2014 Winter release and a focus on improving the mobile experience.

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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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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, 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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Cloud Tech

Dropbox Thinks It’s Worth 8 Billion

It looks like even cloud’s biggest names still have room to grow. Seeking funding for future business expansions, Dropbox is currently looking to raise $250 million in the next several weeks and bring its estimated valuation to around $8 billion.

Though CEO Drew Houston recently stated that they still have plenty of money left over from the last funding round, he is hoping to increase Dropbox’s presence with businesses in addition to your average consumer. Dropbox reported around 200 million users this year, and more than 4 million businesses now use their services compared to 2 million a year ago.

Moving into the corporate world will require a fairly major extension of resources, likely including new technology to accommodate a deeper corporate infrastructure and a dedicated sales team to market specifically to large companies. This move would put them in the arena with the likes of Amazon and Google, so even with a fantastic funding base Drew Houston has his work cut out for him.

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Technology

A Quick Look At Freemium

If there is one thing every consumer will fall for, it is getting something for free. The rise of software as a product has brought some interesting changes to how goods are exchanged, as it is the first kind of product with virtually no productions cost. On top of that, the advent of the internet has made distribution costs almost nil as well. This combined with our rabid need to get things for free has led to the rise of the “freemium” model in software distribution.

The freemium model initially sounds too good to be true; companies don’t just give things out for free without a reason. And the reasoning is sound. Software costs next to nothing to produce and spread after the initial design. All you have to do is copy the file and upload it to the internet. The best kind of advertising is a demonstration, and freemium models are more or less advertising strategies. You are offering functional demonstrations to as many people as possible, and expanding your paying userbase for very little cost.

Many programs today offer freemium models, and they tend to lead to great success stories. Riot Games and their flagship freemium title League of Legends has been the number one played online game in the world for some time now, logging an average of 12 million players a day in 2012 compared to not even a million for most triple A titles. Keith Krach and Docusign hit the ground running and continues to do so well into 2013. It is reported that Docusign is in use by around 90% of Fortune 500 companies and the firm estimates around 25 million unique users. Drew Houston and Dropbox have received myriad awards and been featured in many big name publications. Dropbox was estimated to be worth roughly $4 billion earlier this year. Houston is a regular at tech conventions and has given a commencement speech at MIT at the budding age of 30.

Freemium continues to become more popular and ultimately offers both the consumer and the producer a significant amount of flexibility. With the strategy itself proven, the focus becomes offering enough freebies to entice your future user base without convincing them that they can do without a paid version entirely.

You can look over an additional article analyzing the ups and downs of the freemium model here.

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Cloud Tech

Dreamforce 2013 Offers Greater Focus on Entrepreneurship this Year

Dreamforce 2013 is steadily approaching with dates set from November 18-21 . The annual conference is put on by Salesforce, a multibillion dollar company that specializes in cloud computing and Software as a service (SaaS) technology. Dreamforce 2011 reported over 31,000 attendees, making it one of the largest business conferences. Unsurprisingly, it is a hotbed of new business information and seminars on how to best to keep up on business technology’s rapidly moving edge.

Several major figures will appear as keynote speakers, including Marc Benioff, the chairman and CEO of the hosting company salesforce.com, and Marissa Meyer, CEO and President of Yahoo!.

Representatives from many companies, including several major figures in the cloud computing industry, are attending to play a role as well, either as vendors or as presenters at smaller events.

Dreamforce organizers report that they plan to put a particular focus on digital entrepreneurship this year by bringing in some of the big names in cloud technology startups to talk about their experiences. One familiar face is Drew Houston, founder of the celebrated cloud company Dropbox. Dropbox has become a household name in the business tech world, and Houston will be participating in the Founders Forum which offers advice on how to grow your business.

Also in attendance at Founders Forum will be David Barrett, founder of Expensify. Though a smaller brand than Dropbox, Expensify’s focus on small business users has expanded its popularity significantly as business technology becomes more mainstream. It has been featured on the Wall Street Journal this year.

Docusign, represented by manager Mike Borozdin, will be attending as well with a vendor booth and also taking part in two theater sessions and one mini-hackathon. Docusign was and still is one of the most rapidly growing cloud technology companies in 2013, as more businesses attempt to take their operations further and further into the cloud.

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