Thursday, April 20, 2006

Friday, April 07, 2006

VNU to shareholders: Take buyout offer

VNU is looking to sell but it has to convince its shareholders to do so. The company is more well known in Europe than it is here but they are publishers of a number of trade magazines and also controls the plug the powers the servers running popular blog Silicon Valley Sleuth.

VNU has made a number of acquisitions of its own in the past few months buying up such IT titles as “Inquirer” and some healthcare titles as well.

Just fattening themselves up before the slaughter, perhaps?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Bios in Canada

Two looks at bio-innovations in Canada that show the both the promise and peril of government involvement.

First the good news, which is around my favorite topic, environmental technologies. Here, the new government in Canada will be announcing a bio-fuel strategy that will mandate that all gasoline sold by 2010 must contain 5 percent ethanol. That doesn’t sound like a lot to me, but it is a step. Would be one way to make the poorer Prairie provinces more of an economic force.

But while biofuels are powering ahead, biotechnology is getting sicker in Canada. Seems like the lack of investment is the culprit but I don’t know enough about the industry to understand what this particularly hurts biotech verses other innovation-driven industries.

Study finds two supermassive black holes spiraling toward collision

I actually clicked on this article thinking it was another story about the Lucent/Alcatel merger.

Ooopss...silly me.

Study finds two supermassive black holes spiraling toward collision: " "

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Environment drives innovation

I could ponder as to whether the Governator would be so pro-environment if he hadn’t been smacked around so badly during his “special election” last year and happens to be up for election this year… but that would be unkind.

But people have been asking if this current trend and interest in environmental technologies is real and sustainable, and I think this law helps show that it is. I see the environmental technologies (ETs) movement really begin to fire on all cylinders now.

Yes, gas is expensive and the thought it, that if it drops, so too would interest in ETs. And if gas prices were the only driver of ET interest, then that would be true.

But fortunately they aren’t.

If the killer hurricanes of last year, the disappearing icecaps of the past several years and the current torrent of rain being dumped on Silicon Valley right now indicate anything, it is that weather patterns are changing and we need to be concerned about that. So enlightened thinkers and consumers are increasingly being interest in ETs, cost of gas be damned.

And then there is my favorite trend. It is that the painfully false and the entirely invented conflict of “good for the environment” vs “good for the economy” is being broken down and cast aside. Good for the environment IS good for the economy. Not only do we save money in health costs, disaster costs, and general clean-up efforts, good for the environment is driving a whole new wave of investment and innovation.

Toyota and the Prius prove that consumers will reward environmentally innovative companies, and centers of such environmental innovation will thrive and as different centers (Silicon Valley, Shanghai, Bangalore, Tel Aviv) compete with each other.

SiliconBeat: Why alternative energy market is hot: $130 billion to be created in 8 years

SiliconBeat helps us stay on top of the numbers in the emerging alternative energy market

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

EU pushes lawsuits over protectionism

With the rise of protectionism around the world, it is good to see strong legal action being taken in Europe to check this trend.

Protectionism between major economies is worrying, but to see it happening within the EU strikes my as near economic suicide. Europe can only compete against the US and a rising Asia as a unified bloc. To begin to errect these sorts of internal walls will make the EU even less competitive, and will be a major distraction as indidivudal countires focus on competing against each other rather than competing (as a bloc) against other global economies (US, China, India).

I hope European Commission's actions are for real and not just touch anti-protectionism talk with little to back it up. As we've seen from the protests in France, Europe still has a lot of social barriers to overcome. They needn't create more by errecting protectionis walls.

Intel and MSFT hate me... what am I doing right?

Nicholas Negroponte shares his wisdom as to when you know you're on the right track with a great idea.

HD DVD vs. Downloads

Somewhere out there the gods of irony must be at work as Samsung delays the launch of its blu-ray HD DVD player the same day movie studios announce that first-run movies will now be available for download.

OK, there is not a lot of price difference between downloaded movies and DVDs ($15-$30) and HD-DVDs are probably nicer in terms of packaging, extra features and so on. But all that will change as you’ll be able to download and print covers, download the extra features, download the film in HD and be able to do that from your couch with the click of a mouse while stuffing your face with potato chips.

That’s why, my friends, downloadable movies are progress, endless bickering about HD standards and when they will be available is not.

The Art of the Executive Summary and News Release

How VC Guy Kawasaki explains the art of an executive summary to start-ups, is how I’d like to explain the art of the news release to my counterparts. There has been talk in several places about the “death of the news release.” My take on it is that the news release is a zombie, the living dead. It’s not alive, its not dead, you can't resuscitate it but you can’t kill it. So you might as well deal with it in all of its grotesqueness.

I make no apologies that I spend as little time as I can on news releases. Frankly they are a waste of time, no one reads them, but you gotta do one anyway so make the process as quick and painless as possible. If someone wants to write in a news release that something is “best-of-breed, turn-key, solution that drives business process and is powered by one million gbs throughput of pure IP joy” on one of my news releases, I let them go ahead and do it and I hope my media relationships are strong enough that no one of note would think that I actually wrote something so lame.

But all that being said, I love the way Guy Kawasaki highlights the elegance and simplicity of what start-ups need to know about making a good executive summary. When you think about it, the news release is an executive summary by another name and when reading these guidelines, I can’t help but fantasize about those simpler, gentler days of my youth when news release writing was a joyous affair where we just introduced the news, explained the fact, highlighted opportunities and potentials and communicated in English.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Intel and MIT take different routes to bring computers to the developing world

I've been speaking a lot about MIT's $100 computer and other initiatives to bring low cost computing to developing areas.

Silicon Valley Sleuth takes a look at Intel's efforts in this space and compares them to what is coming out of MIT.