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Date: Thursday, 17 Apr 2014 02:30

tim cook sad

Developers usually make apps for the iPhone first, which means updates for Android and other platforms can take a little while to get to users of those platforms.

But there are quite a few awesome apps that Android owners can use that their iPhone-using friends can't.


Hello SMS is a great app for sending texts.

Hello SMS replaces the messaging app built into most Android phones. The app utilizes a tab system to organize chats so you can quickly alternate between conversations with a single touch. Time Stamps give you the ability to quickly respond to messages as well. Plus, you can send an assortment of emoji to spruce up a boring group chat.

Price: Free

Aviate emphasizes the "smart" in smartphones when it comes to apps.

Aviate 's goal is to deliver you the right apps at the right time. The program learns your habits and can customize the apps on your screen for certain situations. When you wake up in the morning, Aviate can immediately deliver the traffic reports and reminders about calendar meetings right to your phone. 

Price: Free

Glove determines the best wireless carrier for you when you move.

Glove is a useful app for picking out a wireless carrier when you move to a new city. The program runs for three days and figures out where you use your phone the most. After this testing period is over, Glove will analyze which carrier can be the best for you so you can get an excellent coverage plan. 

Price: Free

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Author: "Ryan Bushey"
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Date: Thursday, 17 Apr 2014 02:15

Screen Shot 2014 04 16 at 10.24.18 AM

Sarah Bergbreiter is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Maryland, and she and her team build tiny robots.

Just how tiny? Bergbreiter calls it "ant-scale," but said, "That's really just a PR term. Our robots are built on the millimeter scale, less than 1 centimeter."

This all happens out of the university's Microrobotics Laboratory, where they develop technologies that aim to make tiny robots that not only function properly, but will one day be as handy and useful as large robots.

"The immediate impact of this research is on the fabrication process," Bergbreiter told us.

Small robots don't have nearly the capacity to carry around sensors and batteries that make robots conventionally useful. Consider the human-size Atlas robot by Boston Dynamics. At 6 feet tall and 330 pounds, it's more than capable of carrying powerful sensors and its own power supply. Bergbreiter and company don't have the luxury of working without such constraints, so they're constantly evaluating how to adapt larger-scale technologies for the smaller scale.

Bergbreiter is focused on efficient robot movement, especially over rough terrain. We asked her if it's better for microbot locomotion to imitate nature or to aim for something totally new, and she says her team has tried both approaches. "Biology lets us look at solutions that exist in the natural world. We’re inspired by them, but we've also deviated significantly from nature to build robots that jump, for example."

Over the next 10 years, techniques from UMD's Microrobotics Laboratory will lead to improvements in larger robots: "Actuators designed at a small scale can be into a larger scale system for more control than you would normally get," Bergbreiter told us.

There may even be private business interest in such small-scale fabrication and actuation. "We're concerned with precision and low power. It's not all that different from what you'd want in a zoom camera."

In the longer term, there's a lot of potential applications in the medical field. "By combining small actuation mechanisms with low power, we could stand to improve things like camera pills, or catheters," said Bergbreiter.

Check out this great YouTube video from the University of Maryland's robotics department that gives us a look inside the Microrobotics Laboratory.

Consider how agile small insects are — ants can move up to 40 body lengths per second, cockroaches can get into impossibly narrow places.

Professor Bergbreiter's work aims to make similar behavior possible for robots of a similar size.

Here's one such robot — a small six-legged creation that walks around under its own power.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Author: "Dylan Love"
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Date: Thursday, 17 Apr 2014 01:49

For such a well-trafficked site, Reddit keeps its number of employees relatively low and uses an unapologetically retro site design, yet it's a near-bottomless source of news and humor for the Internet-at-large every single day.

The company doesn't have its own dedicated space, but instead operates out of a San Francisco co-working space that seems to mirror the positive, low-key vibe of the site.

Reuters recently came through and took the some pictures of the Reddit workspace.

A sign on the door warns of nerds who shouldn't be allowed to escape.


Reddit's red-eyed alien mascot greets you when you walk in.


These appear to be the previously mentioned nerds — Reddit employees pore over their computer screens.


Reddit programmer Keith Mitchell works beside an image of the Reddit alien piloting a giant robot.


The office is littered with images of the company mascot. Here's a large one:


But there are smaller ones all over the place.


Reddit saw 713 million unique visitors last year, and it did it all with a small team and alien mascots.


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Author: "Dylan Love"
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Date: Thursday, 17 Apr 2014 01:15

asimo honda robot

It walks and runs, even up and down stairs. It can open a bottle and serve a drink, and politely tries to shake hands with a stranger. Meet the latest ASIMO, Honda's humanoid robot.

"Hello New York! Thank you for coming today!" the little guy chirped in English, the recorded voice of a teenaged boy, at his US debut Wednesday in a Manhattan hotel.

Resembling a tiny astronaut, ASIMO -- decked out in a white suit and helmet -- stands 4 feet three inches (1.3 meters) tall and weighs in at 110 lbs (50 kg).

ASIMO -- short for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility -- was designed to help people, potentially in cases of reduced mobility. The first model was unveiled in 2000 after 14 years of research during which scientists studied human movements in an effort to replicate them.

The latest demonstration highlighted the robot's increased flexibility and balance -- ASIMO can now jump -- as well as sign language abilities. It can now also run at a speed of 5.6 miles per hour (9 km/h).

Researchers think that one day it could help the elderly -- say by getting a snack or turning the lights off -- when their ability to get around is reduced.

"ASIMO was designed to help those in society who need assistance, and Honda believes that these improvements in ASIMO bring us another step closer to our ultimate goal of being able to help all kinds of people in need," said Satoshi Shigemi, senior chief engineer at Honda R&D Co., Ltd. Japan responsible for humanoid robotics.

"We need to understand what people expect from ASIMO and what people want ASIMO to do."

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Author: "Agence France Presse"
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Date: Thursday, 17 Apr 2014 00:43

children Steve Jobs netherlands classroom

According to the British Association of Teachers and Lecturers, children who are 3 and 4 don't have dexterity in their fingers because they're too addicted to swiping tablet screens. 

The children know how to use the devices, but they barely know how to play with actual toys.

"I have spoken to a number of nursery teachers who have concerns over the increasing numbers of young pupils who can swipe a screen but have little or no manipulative skills to play with building blocks or the like, or the pupils who cannot socialise with other pupils but whose parents talk proudly of their ability to use a tablet or smartphone," said teacher Colin Kinney at the association's annual conference, according to The Telegraph.

The Telegraph reports that in addition to this, the memory of some older children is deteriorating because of over-exposure to computers. According to one teacher, these children couldn't finish traditional tests using pen and paper. 

Pew Research shows that one-third of Americans owned a tablet in 2013. And "among parents with minor children living at home, tablet ownership rose from 26% in April 2012 to 50% in May 2013."

The National Association for the Education of Young Children says that "when used intentionally and appropriately, technology and interactive media are effective tools to support learning and development." But it also warns that exposure to interactive media should be limited, especially for young children.

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Author: "Karyne Levy"
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Date: Thursday, 17 Apr 2014 00:22

Aaron Levie

When Box filed"> its long-awaited paperwork to become a public company, it caused a lot of talk about the financial health of the company, and the long-term viability of its business model.

At issue was how much money Box is spending compared to its revenue, particularly on sales and marketing. People began wondering: is founder and CEO Aaron Levie a quack or a modern-day genius?

Let me be clear: he’s a genius, and he’s not the only one.

I’ve known Levie for six years, ever since Box became an early customer of my company, Zuora, and his company’s revenues were in the low single digits. I’ve watched with great pleasure as Levie, co-founder Dylan Smith and the team have grown Box into the force that it is today. He is the latest in a line of true entrepreneurs, laser-focused on making his vision of collaboration a reality. With over 34,000 paying companies across the globe including Bechtel, Eli Lilly, and Gap, it’s obvious that companies see the value of Box and trust it to power their businesses.

But it’s crazy to me that 10 years after the IPO of Salesforce.com as the first public software-as-a-service (SaaS) company, Wall Street still doesn’t understand the subscription business model. The software industry has been on an inevitable path to subscriptions since 1999, when Salesforce was founded.

Fast forward to today with Workday, Adobe, Box, Zendesk and others. These companies have proven that a subscription model with recurring revenue is a different kind of business. It’s complex. Yet, when managed well, it's a healthy and financially attractive model that has disrupted some of the most established industries across the globe.

Even giant software vendors like SAP are now offering major products via subscription. And I assure you this is just the beginning.

Why then, is there such controversy about Box? Forbes writer Kurt Marko recently questioned whether Box is a “viable standalone business,” pointing to that fact that operating expenses outweigh revenue and calling it “the beginning of the end.” Erik Sherman with CBS News claimed that Box “badly needs the money” and that “an IPO is necessary to bring in the capital needed for long-term viability.”

It’s become apparent to me that there is a fundamental lack of understanding about the subscription business model, a term I call the “Subscription Economy.”

In order to understand the true genius of Box, let’s look at the four big differences between the subscription model and a traditional software business.

1. Subscription businesses care about a different revenue metric: ARR

The first thing to know is that for a subscription business, revenue is not revenue. It’s the difference between a one-time payment and recurring payments.

Just think about it — let’s say you have two friends: Jack says he’ll give you $10 just this once, and Jill says she’ll give you $5 a year for each of the next 10 years. There is a big difference between the two — you know that Jill’s deal is a better deal.  

That’s why smart subscription businesses look at something called ARR, which stands for Annual Recurring Revenue, and consists of only the subscription revenue from customers for an ongoing service. To get at ARR, subscription businesses take the value of their subscription contracts, normalize it to an annual amount, and add it all up.  For a subscription business, more so than cash or revenue, ARR is the true indicator of your company’s health.

But here’s the thing: accounting rules today don’t recognize ARR.

In fact, accounting systems do not differentiate between a dollar that recurs and a dollar that does not. Accounting systems today are built on the double entry standard created 500 years ago by Luca Pacioli to help Venetian merchants track the sale of spices. And in that system, a dollar is a dollar is a dollar.

Fortunately, there’s a simple way to approximate ARR from a standard income statement — just take the quarterly revenue, strip out non-recurring revenue such as setup fees or consulting fees, and multiply it by four.

That will give you a close estimate as to what the ARR was as the start of that quarter.  (The sophisticated reader here will note that this doesn’t tell you what ARR is at the end of the quarter, and it doesn’t include revenue contributed from in-quarter bookings … but we’ll leave that for another time).

In Workday’s most recent filings, for example, the company reported $141 million in quarterly revenue, of which $110.7 million was subscription revenue. By taking the subscription revenue and multiplying it by four, you can see that Workday likely started out that quarter with about $443 million in ARR.

We’ve performed the same calculations for Workday (ticker symbol WDAY) ServiceNow (NOW), NetSuite (N) and Salesforce.com (CRM), below.

Most recent quarterly ending Jan 31 2014 Dec 31, 2013 Dec 31 2013 Jan 31 2014
Quarterly revenue $141 million $125 million $115 million $1,145 million
% professional services 22.0% 16.3% 18.6% 6.1%
Quarterly recurring revenue $111 million $105 million $93 million $1,075 million
ARR (estimated) $443 million $420 million $374 million $4,300 million

Now how about Box? Unfortunately, Box doesn’t actually break down how much of its revenue comes from subscription versus that which comes from professional services. We do know that professional services is less than 10% of the total revenue, otherwise it would need to present that separately from subscription revenue.

We’ll make an educated guess that Box’s consulting revenue is in-line with Salesforce.com’s and plug in 5%. Based on that, we see that Box started its most recent quarter at $148 million ARR, double what they were at one year ago.  That’s pretty good growth.

Most recent quarterly ending Jan 31 2013 Jan 31 2014
Quarterly revenue $19.6 million $39 million
% professional services (**) 5% 5%
Quarterly recurring revenue $18.7 million $37 million
Starting ARR (estimated) $75million $148 million

(**) Our guess

2. Well what do you know, it turns out cloud storage is not that expensive

One common refrain I’ve heard from people is that Box’s costs must be high, since they are storing all those files and have to purchase so many disks. And they must be losing money because they give so much of storage per user.

A look at Box’s gross margins shows a different tale.  

But first, let’s do a quick Accounting 101 for the non-CPAs out there. In a SaaS company, there are really just three sources of costs: people, data center, and marketing. In the income statement, the part of Box’s S-1 filing causing the most comments, these costs are allocated into four key buckets:

  1. Costs of revenue, otherwise known as costs of good sold, which is how much you need to spend to actually provide the service.  In a SaaS company, this typically includes the data center, the hardware, the data center folks, customer support folks, etc.
  2. Research and development, this includes all the developers and product managers.
  3. General and administrative, this includes primarily the finance and HR folks.
  4. Sales and marketing, this includes the sales and marketing departments and supporting personnel, and any money spent on marketing programs.

Take a look at ">what Box says goes into its costs of revenue:

Our cost of revenue consists primarily of costs related to providing our cloud-based services to our paying customers, including employee compensation and related expenses for data center operations, customer support and professional services personnel, payments to outside infrastructure service providers, depreciation of servers and equipment, security services and other tools, as well as amortization of acquired technology.

Now, most folks will take these cost buckets and map that to revenue to get a margin. Revenue minus costs of revenue, for example, is your gross margin.  We’re going to do something different and compare these costs to ARR.

Why ARR?  Think about it — the great thing about ARR is that it’s a forward-looking metric — ARR very closely approximates what you expect to make this upcoming quarter, compared to revenue which tells you what you already made last quarter.

If you are Levie and Smith, and you know what your ARR is at the start of the quarter, you can make some smart decisions on how you want to spend that money. Comparing expenses to ARR better approximates how the executives in the company actually think and run their businesses.

To do this accurately, you have to take out the cost of goods sold that are tied to the professional services, and you have to take out the stock option expenses that are reported in the filings. That’s why we call this a Gross Recurring Margin, vs. just a Gross Margin.

Here are the numbers we calculated:

Most recent quarterly ending Jan 31 2014 Jan 31 2014 Dec 31, 2013 Dec 31 2013 Jan 31 2014
Estimated ARR at the start of the quarter $148 million $443 million $420 million $374 million $4,300 million
Costs of Sales (annualized) $31 million $76 million $94 million $55 million $743 million
Gross Recurring Margin 79% 83% 78% 85% 85%

As you can see, Box’s gross margins are in line with others in the SaaS industry.  It actually doesn’t cost that much to offer storage in the cloud.

3. Recurring Revenue Margin: The Real Story

At the heart of financial accounting is the concept of matching.  When $1 is shown on the income statement, it shows the amount of costs of goods sold, sales and marketing, R&D and G&A (general and administrative) that went into making that one dollar.

Unfortunately, the whole concept of matching starts to break down for subscription business models. That's because ARR represents revenue acquired in previous periods, which are simply now renewing.  Sure, you need to service the customer, so cost of goods and G&A is to service the customer and does match to the ARR.  

How about R&D?  Well, the traditional view says the products you are selling today are already done, and you are investing in research to create innovations that drive future sales. But here’s the thing -- the customers of SaaS companies did not sign up for a static service that never gets better. If you know something about SaaS companies, they are obsessed about keeping their customers happy, to keep them buying the service, and they invest in R&D against that goal.

At Salesforce, we started naming releases with the seasons, for example the “Winter 2013 release,” to convey the constant rate we expected to add enhancements to the products. That’s why I like to think of R&D as being matched to ARR.

Sales and marketing is where it gets interesting. If your ARR represents today’s revenue that you expect to recur, then your spend on sales & marketing is going towards growing ARR, to acquiring future revenue that is not yet in ARR. In other words, today’s sales and marketing expenses are matched to future revenue.  

(In accounting lingo, sales and marketing acts more like a “capital expenditure”, or capex for short. In the old manufacturing world, you invested in a big factory to build a bunch of widgets, and you spread the cost of that factory out over time as you made and sold those widgets over time. That would be depreciation of course. In the subscription economy, you invest in sales & marketing to acquire customers, and you recognize revenue from those customers over their lifetime, which often can be 3, 5, 10 years or more. However, accounting rules today do not let you spread or depreciate sales and marketing costs over time.)

That’s why we like to look at something we call Recurring Revenue Margin, which is your ARR minus your cost of sales, research and development, and G&A, but before the spend on sales and marketing.  

Most recent quarter ending Jan 31 2014 Jan 31 2014 Dec 31, 2013 Dec 31 2013 Jan 31 2014
Estimated ARR at the start of the quarter $148 million $443 million $420 million $374 million $4,300 million
Costs of Sales * $31 million $76 million $94 million $55 million $743 million
Research & Development * $51 million $184 million $75 million $73 million $576 million
General & Administrative * $36 million $59 million $53 million $40 million $549 million
Recurring Revenue Margin 20% 28% 47% 55% 57%

* Quarterly numbers annualized

When you look at Box’s business from a recurring revenue margin viewpoint, you see they are running a profitable business. If Box stopped all sales and marketing today, it wouldn’t grow any more, but it would have an intrinsic 20% margin business. Now, Box isn’t as profitable as Salesforce or Netsuite, yet, but when you look at Box’s recurring revenue margin over the last four quarters (below), the trend isn’t bad.  

Quarter ending Apr 30 2013 Jul 31 2013 Oct 31 2013 Jan 31 2014
Estimated ARR at the start of the quarter $89 million $108 million $128 million $148 million
Costs of Sales $17 million $22 million $27 million $31 million
Research & Development $35 million $41 million $45 million $51 million
General & Administrative $30 million $33 million $35 million $36 million
Recurring Revenue Margin 8% 11% 16% 20%

You can see that Box and Workday are spending in research & development.  Why is R&D spending so high?  I would speculate that this is Levie betting on the future -- Levie likely believes he has a big market that is growing fast, and he needs to invest in R&D with more features to outpace Dropbox or Microsoft's SharePoint product.

4. The Genius of Going for Growth

So what have we established so far?  Subscription businesses really care about recurring revenue, which is measured by ARR.  On an ARR basis, Box is a fast-growing SaaS companies today. On a gross margin basis, it doesn’t cost Box too much to offer storage in the cloud, and on a recurring revenue margin basis, Box is building an inherently profitable business.

The last thing to look at is where all the controversy lies. On his blog, Tomasz Tunguz notes that:

Box spends about 137% of their revenue on sales and marketing. This sales and marketing expense figure is 3x the average of 42% of revenue found across all other publicly traded SaaS companies at this point in their lifecycle. The next closest comparable is Cornerstone-on-Demand which spent 86% of revenue dollars for sales and marketing. Of the remaining 18 companies in the data set, no other firm exceeded 62%.

Let’s take that again. Box is spending more money on sales and marketing than it has revenues, 3 times more than its peer group, and over 50% more than the #2 spendthrift on the list.  I see the Box billboard every day when I drive down Highway 101. So what is Levie getting for all that money?  Let’s take a look.

Quarter ending Oct 31 2013 Oct 31 2013 Sep 30 2013 Sep 30 2013 Oct 31 2013
Estimated ARR at the start of the quarter $128 million $399 million $372 million $343 million $4,018 million
Estimated ARR at the end of the quarter $148 million $443 million $420 million $374 million $4,300 million
ARR Growth $20 million $44 million $48 million $31 million $282 million
Sales & Marketing Spend $46 million $56 million $50 million $50 million $570 million

In the quarter ending Oct. 31, 2013, Box spent $46 million in sales and marketing to grow ARR by $20 million, net of churn. That means he spent over $2 to acquire $1 of growth.  Compared to other public SaaS companies, that’s on the high side, although if Box expects that $1 to recur for the next 5 or 10 years, that’s still a pretty good deal.

Has Levie built a house of cards, one that requires more and more money to fuel, but that ultimately will fall apart when the music stops?  

I don’t think so. I see a person who, by the age of 28, has convinced some pretty big names in the investment community to give him over $400 million dollars to go after a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

That’s pretty amazing in and of itself. But that’s not all. Levie then built a business with strong fundamentals that is intrinsically profitable, if looked at in the right way.

Finally, by recognizing that he’s in a land grab in a fast growing market with multiple players, Levie is showing he has the courage to bet big and spend big to acquire as many customers as he can.

What if one day Levie decides that he’s won, that he sees the market for cloud collaboration slowing, and he’s the clear market share leader? At that point, if he cuts R&D back down to 15%, and sales and marketing down to 15%, he’ll have a 25% margin business.  If he’s a $1 billion company at that point, that means he can throw off $250 million in cash.

If he can grow that into a $10 billion company, he’s throwing off $2.5 billion in cash. That’s a great business. And that’s the genius of Aaron Levie.

Tien Tzuo is the founder and CEO of Zuora, a cloud service founded in 2007 that provides accounting and billing services for other cloud computing companies. Before Zuora, Tzuo spent 9 years at Salesforce.com where he was employee No. 11 and its former Chief Strategy Officer.


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Author: "Tien Tzuo" Tags: "NOW, N, CRM"
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Date: Thursday, 17 Apr 2014 00:06

san francisco google eviction protest

It's not hard to understand why housing prices keep going up in San Francisco.

In simple terms, more people want to live in San Francisco than the current amount of housing can support.

When there's higher demand for something than what the supply can fulfill, prices go up.

Last week, we wrote about the fact that much of San Francisco is zoned for buildings shorter than 40 feet — with many areas not even developing to that limit — and provided some of the historical factors that have made things that way.

One of the major factors contributing to the severely insufficient housing stock has been the lack of upward development: Taller buildings would mean more housing for the limited amount of space available. 

But as Kim-Mai Cutler details in an extremely thorough story on TechCrunch, there are myriad other issues that have contributed to the current crisis of rising rents and gentrification. 

According to several influential progressives in the area who were cited in the piece, these factors have made it so that almost no amount of new housing could make enough of a dent to bring down housing prices.

Calvin Welch, a member of the Council of Community Housing Organizations and the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council, wrote a paper in October explaining why new housing units won't necessarily bring down rent like you'd expect from a simple analysis of supply and demand.

His primary points are that limited land ("of the city’s 47 square miles, only 13 square miles [are] available for housing uses, the rest [is] being used for streets, schools, parks, beaches, office building, shops, hotels, conventioncenters, hospitals, police and fire stations, " he notes) and speculation by cash-flush Wall Street investors buying up property have made it so that no matter how much housing is built, housing prices will still increase:

In June 2013, the SF Chronicle reported that speculators (or “investors” as the Chronicle calls them) using “all cash” made up nearly a third of all buyers in the Bay Area. The whole point of this speculation in housing is to buy cheap and sell dear, thus driving up prices. Speculators exert tremendous “market power” on prices. The New York Times recently reported that a large portion of these “all-cash” buyers are Wall Street based with huge “portfolios” willing to suck up any number of housing units no matter how many are produced.

There are some weak points to his logic. He argues that falling housing production in 2001-2002 and 2008-2009 made housing prices fall, when in actuality those were recessions. In both cases, people lost their jobs, couldn't afford "as much" housing (moving to less space or less desirable locations), and developers cut production because it wasn't worth the investment, as we saw in housing markets across the nation.

He also says that because of the fact that prices rose in years of high housing production, the argument that more housing can help affordability is bunk. The thing is, he didn't take into account how quickly people are moving to the city.

Between 2010 and 2013, the population of San Francisco grew by more than 10,000 people each year according to estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau. Housing units under development went from 4,220 in 2012 to more than 7,000 in 2013. Fewer new housing starts than people entering the city means that the rest will have to compete for existing housing stock — driving prices up further.

But overall, he has a point. There's a limited amount of space available for development in San Francisco; a huge portion of the development going on over the last few years has been aimed at the high end of the market. 

san francisco housing tweetIf that trend continues, it's inevitable that lower- and middle-income residents will be priced out of the market.

So what does Welch recommend to keep that from happening? 

Basically, rent control and public housing. While rent control is helpful in the immediate sense — it means that a person with a wage that isn't shooting up by the year can stay in their home — but there's the downside for landlords: Property values keep rising, which means tax bills go up. If they can't collect more rent, that's income out of their pocket. I'm not saying either side has the absolute answer in this situation, but it is a reason for political conflict.

Public housing, on the other hand, is incredibly expensive. As Tim Redmond noted on Monday, there's about $800 million spent on housing subsidies in the Bay Area, and current funding is several hundred million dollars short of what current public housing development proposals have suggested. That money has to come from somewhere — again, something that's going to be fought by whomever ends up having to pay higher taxes.

A middle-of-the-road solution is mandating affordable housing from developers. For instance, San Francisco Board of Supervisors representative Jane Kim has put forward legislation mandating that new housing developments in the South of Market area include 30% affordable housing units. 

The plan could actually put developers and rent control advocates on the same side. Tim Redmond writes:

In theory, that would encourage developers to side with tenant advocates protecting existing rent-controlled housing — because if you evict tenants and remove housing from the rent-controlled stock, it skews the 70-30 ratio and would make new market-rate developments more difficult.

To sweeten the deal, Kim has said that she's open to adding incentives for developers. As the SF Gate's Marisa Lagos reported last week, those incentives could include  a "density bonus" — which would let developers build even higher if they included more affordable housing — or a "dial" system, which would let developers build especially affordable housing but included fewer units.

The biggest argument over mandates is the ratio of affordable housing to total growth. Is 30% too low? Too high? That's likely to be subject to a lot of argument as similar proposals are put forward in other areas.

SEE ALSO: This one intersection explains why housing is so expensive in San Francisco

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Author: "Kyle Russell"
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Date: Thursday, 17 Apr 2014 00:04

A new report from consumer data company Experian suggests that online video content services like Netflix are pulling people away from cable television.

After surveying more than 24,000 U.S. adults, Experian found that households with a Netflix or Hulu subscription were nearly three times as likely not to have a cable subscription than the average household. In total, 6.5% of Experian's surveyed households did not subscribe to cable in 2013, up from 4.5% in 2010.

But cord-cutters became 18.1% of Netflix subscribers, up from 12.7%. Cord-cutters are three times as likely to be Netflix subscribers than the average consumer, in other words.

Experian chart on cord-cutters

"We had looked at cord-cutting as a trend in years past, but we hadn’t really seen significant movement in the space because it was more a small group of people who were actually cutting the cord," Experian senior marketing manager John Fetto said. "It’s become something people are actually doing from something that was just being talked about in New York Times trend pieces."

Traditional television companies like NBC and CBS receive licensing fees from Netflix and Hulu for their content, and Hulu is a joint venture owned by three of the major broadcast networks.

However, the licensing fees and advertising revenues made online still pale in comparison to the money the networks take in from the distribution fees paid by cable operators, to say nothing of the $60+ billion U.S. television advertising market.

Experian found that while a surprising 42% of adults watched video content on their smartphones during a typical week, the real backbreaker for cable companies was when would-be subscribers were able to stream video content to their televisions.

According to the report, people who watched streaming video on the big screens of their televisions were more than three times as likely not to subscribe to cable. People who said they stream video to their smartphones and tablets were only 1.5 times as likely not to have cable.Cord-cutting table 2

"We would have thought that you can basically watch video on any device, but it really appears that the tipping point is whether they’re actually streaming content to their televisions," Fetto said. "Having access to on-demand video when they want it without sacrificing screen size seems to be the real thing that makes a difference for them."

SEE ALSO: TV Is Dying, And Here Are The Stats That Prove It

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Author: "Aaron Taube"
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Date: Wednesday, 16 Apr 2014 23:04

Mary Meeker

Every year, Kleiner Perkins partner Mary Meeker puts together a presentation on the state of the Web.

Meeker is a former analyst for Morgan Stanley, and her decks are always a handy guide to where things are going. 

So, when a source told us he had a copy of Meeker's first report on the Internet — from way back in 1996 — we begged him to send it.

Unlike Meeker's decks, "The Internet Report" is a 322-page text-heavy PDF.  

We've gone through it, pulled all the charts, pulled some quotes, and re-arranged it all into a Meeker-style deck — one from 1996.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Author: "Nicholas Carlson"
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Date: Wednesday, 16 Apr 2014 23:03

Jerry Yang and David Filo, from Flickr: http://bit.ly/6MJbOC

SUNNYVALE, Calif. (AP) — Yahoo co-founder David Filo is vying to rejoin the Internet company's board after an 18-year absence.

The 47-year-old Filo is among three board candidates hoping to be elected at Yahoo's annual meeting scheduled for June 25. Yahoo Inc. disclosed the candidates to fill recently vacated positions in a regulatory filing Wednesday.

The other nominees to the board are Charles Schwab, the founder of a stock brokerage that still bears his name, and H. Lee Scott Jr., the former CEO of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Yahoo Inc. CEO Marissa Mayer is on Wal-Mart's board.

Filo started Yahoo with Jerry Yang in a trailer while they were Stanford University graduate students in 1994. Although he gave up his seat on the company's board in 1996, Filo has remained among Yahoo's largest shareholders.

SEE ALSO: Here's What Yahoo's Marissa Mayer Earned Last Year

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Author: "Associated Press" Tags: "AP"
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Date: Wednesday, 16 Apr 2014 22:55

Dr. Mathias Döpfner, Mathias Dopfner

BERLIN (AP) — The head of Germany's biggest media company says he is afraid of Google and wants the company to become more transparent.

Mathias Doepfner, the chairman of Axel-Springer SE, accuses Google of abusing its dominance in the field of online search to squeeze out competitors.

His comments, published Wednesday by German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, come a week after Google chairman Eric Schmidt accused European publishers of stifling innovation.

Doepfner said companies like his have no choice but to cooperate with Google even as they fight legal battles against the Internet giant, because not doing so could spell the end of their business.

SEE ALSO: Google Warns: We Are Scanning Your Email

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Author: "Associated Press" Tags: "AP"
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Date: Wednesday, 16 Apr 2014 22:46

girl taking selfie

Today, an interesting post on Medium brings to light a warning for all Instagram account holders: If you let your account remain inactive for too long, your handle could be given away — and you might not get any notice ahead of time. 

On Medium, Brian Hoff wrote that he and his wife first discovered something strange a few months ago when Brian tried to tag his wife in a photo and the account name appeared as "__kathleen" instead of "@kathleen." 

Although Hoff admits that his wife was "not a regular on the service anymore," she still tried to reach out to the company via its @InstagramHelp Twitter account to see if the difference might be because of a security issue. TechCrunch's Sarah Perez interviewed Brian and he said that his wife also emailed the company at contact@instagram.com.  

Then, earlier this morning, Kathleen Hoff tried to log in to her account to see a picture that her husband had posted, and she could no longer log in. Her @Kathleen handle had been given to another Kathleen, whom Hoff realized was an Instagram employee. 

Hoff isn't accusing the Instagram employee of stealing the account, but he does complain that the lack of response from Instagram when he and his wife were looking for support (and that the company didn't try to notify her before giving away her handle) was unfortunate. He wrote that he thinks that the communication issue is a result of the Facebook acquisition. 

In the end, however, Kathleen Hoff ended up getting the account back from Instagram.

We reached out to the company, and here's what it said:

Like many social services, Instagram has a policy of reassigning usernames from accounts that have been inactive for a significant length of time. While the policy is standard practice and will continue, Instagram employees strive to always put members of the Instagram community first, and so we will be returning the name to the previous owner.

Instagram isn't the only company that reassigns inactive usernames. In fact, most do. What remains in question, however, is actually how long a "significant length" of time is. Hoff told TechCrunch that his wife wasn't an active poster, but that she would occasionally log in and view photos using her account. Instagram's definition of "inactive" isn't just hinged on uploads — to be inactive, users aren't even logging in — so either Hoff was stretching the definition of "occasionally," or Instagram doesn't wait all that long. 

Regardless, this story should serve as a reminder to users: If you want to keep an account, you should actually use it. 

SEE ALSO: The most outrageous things we learned about the CEO of Zappos from his Playboy interview

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Author: "Jillian D'Onfro"
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Date: Wednesday, 16 Apr 2014 22:08

Online dating app Zoosk filed its S1 to go public today. It's trying to raise $100 million.

Zoosk is one of the most popular social networking apps in Apple's App Store. It's also one of the top grossing. The app is free, but gets money from subscription fees and other online payments within the apps.

The revenue numbers are pretty impressive and seem to be growing nicely year over year. It generated over $178 million in 2013, up from $109 million in 2012. But it did have a net loss of $2.6 million in 2012. Zoosk says it has 25 million members, which includes 650,000 paying subscribers.

Here's a breakdown of the company's financials from the S1. Click for a larger view:

zoosk files ipo financials

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Author: "Steve Kovach"
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Date: Wednesday, 16 Apr 2014 21:51

marissa mayer

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is trying to convince Apple to make Yahoo the default search engine on the Safari browser on iPhones and iPads, according to Re/code's Kara Swisher.

Right now, Google is the default search engine, but users have the option to switch to Microsoft's Bing or Yahoo. Siri, the voice-powered digital assistant for iPhones and iPads, uses Bing as its default search engine, but users can't change that.

Yahoo already has a cozy relationship with Apple and the iPhone. Both the Weather and Stocks apps use Yahoo data. Siri also uses Yahoo for sports scores and stats.

Meanwhile, Apple has been slowly stripping out all things Google from the iPhone. It removed the native apps for Google Maps and YouTube in 2012, for example. You now have to download those as separate apps.

Get more details on Re/code >>

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Author: "Steve Kovach"
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Date: Wednesday, 16 Apr 2014 21:42

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer made $25 million in total compensation last year, down from the $37 million package she got the year before.

A big chunk of her compensation came from a make-good bonus to compensate her for money she lost by leaving Google to go work at Yahoo, and as a retention bonus that vests over a five-year period.

Former COO Henrique de Castro got $11 million, down from $40 million. He basically earned $50 million for 15 months' work before exiting the company earlier this year.

Yahoo's investors did well in the year. The stock went from $15.78 to $40.44 in the period.

Here's the comp chart (click to enlarge):


SEE ALSO: Yahoo's COO walks out with $20 million stock bonus (plus $40 million for just 15 months' work)

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Author: "Jim Edwards"
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Date: Wednesday, 16 Apr 2014 21:16

laptop google

Office workers spend about two hours a day on email.

Cal Newport, author of "So Good They Can't Ignore You," argues that this is terrible for your career.

While sending emails might feel productive, he says, it doesn't help you grow your professional skill set.

With that in mind, we gathered these time-saving hacks.

To stop typing the same thing all the time, use "canned responses" in Gmail.

If you're always sending the same email — your address, your elevator pitch, your availabilities for the week — then craft a few canned responses in Gmail and dish them out quickly.

To do so, open Gmail, click on settings, click on Labs, then "canned responses," and then click enable. Or watch this sweet walkthrough, care of blogger Amy Lynn Andrew.

To avoid unnecessary emails, send a text, IM, or just walk on over.

Productivity consultant Jason Womack says to find a way to "escalate high-priority messages" with your colleagues.

If a matter is both urgent and important — and there is a difference — use a different medium than email, like instant message, text, or just walking over to their desk. While emails get lost in a pile, a tap on the shoulder is hard to miss.

Use "the Email Game" to hustle through your messages.

The Email GameIf you want to have some fun and increase your pace as you churn through your inbox, play the Email Game, which turns sorting through emails into a type-as-fast-as-you-can web game. When you open up the Email Game, it syncs with your Gmail. It opens up one message at a time, which you deal with right away and then click onto the next one, all in a race against time. Productivity guru Tim Ferriss swears by it; he says it doubles his inbox-cruising speed.

To slow down the pace of incoming messages, get rigorous about unsubscribing.

If most of your messages are spam or unread newsletters, get rid of them. How? Set a filter for the word "unsubscribe" — which should catch all those unwanted mass mailings — and archive all that stuff immediately. This way you're not actually unsubscribing to the emails, which might have searchable value down the line, you're just shoveling them into a folder.

To sprint through your inbox like an Olympian runs a race, get to know how your email client works.

Business Insider has done a lot of the work for you; watch this video on mastering Gmail or this rundown on Outlook productivity hacks.

To compress your inbox for speed, stop using your email as a to-do list.

Using your inbox as a to-do list is dangerous. Any email you don't act on immediately will get pushed down to the bottom of your inbox by the end of the day. For a better to-do list, try Any.do or Trello.

To aid with sorting the good from the bad, enlist some algorithmic help.

When Harvard Business Review editor Sarah Green set out on a quest to conquer her inbox, she realized she was relying too much on herself.

"I stopped expecting a human brain to solve a problem created by technology," she writes. "I used to feel bad — really bad — when important emails would get lost in the impenetrable wall of unimportant near-spam that took over my inbox every day."

She opted for SaneBox, an algorithmic filtering app that learns what your most important messages are. Those are guided into your now-tidy inbox, while the filtered-out emails are filed away into a "SaneLater" folder.

To keep yourself from getting overwhelmed, make a careful routine.

Some of the greatest artists have had rigorous daily routines. LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner shows a similar commitment to sculpting his days — how else could he communicate in a 4,300-person company? As he shared on a LinkedIn post, the routine goes like this:

Wake between 5am and 5:30am; spend roughly an hour on my inbox; catch up on the day's news; have breakfast and play with the kids; workout; go to the office; carve out roughly two hours for buffers each workday; come home; put the girls to bed; have dinner with my wife; and then decompress, typically while watching tv (sporadically cleaning up my inbox via mobile during commercials and the boring parts of whatever we're watching.)

When days get particularly hectic, Weiner says he loses the routine and consequently loses control of the inbox. Thus the importance of forming a habit that sticks.

To save clicks and keystrokes, use keyboard shortcuts.

For example, on Gmail, via Business Insider:

  • (Ctrl + Enter) to send message.
  • (Ctrl + .) to move to the next window.
  • (Ctrl + Shift + c) to add Cc recipients.
  • (Ctrl + Shift + b) to add Bcc recipients.

(Swap Ctrl for Command if you're using a Mac, and the same keystrokes will work.)

On Outlook.com, via CNET:

  • (R) to Reply
  • (Shift+R) to Reply all
  • (Shift+F) to Forward
  • (F7) to Check spelling

To make emailing on a smartphone faster, use Mailbox.

When Mailbox founder Gentry Underwood was first drawing up the app, he realized that most mobile email clients were clunky ports of desktop experiences. So Mailbox redesigned the inbox for mobile friendliness. Unwieldy email threads get condensed down into chat-sized bubbles. Messages get archived with a swipe of a finger. To see more, watch this:

To avoid unnecessary work, quit with the filing system.

Gmail and other clients allow you to set up filing systems to allow users to better organize their inboxes. But it can just get in the way.

"Email folders are categorically the worst way to look for email messages," says Alex Moore, CEO of the email management service Baydin, the company behind the Email Game.

A folder system is self-defeating, he says, because even if you make a bunch of great folders, you might not recall where you put a given message. A search is way faster.

To save you time and get your messages read, write shorter subject lines.

Marketing company Retention Science did an analysis of email replies and found that "emails with subject lines containing six to 10 words were the most effective at getting the recipient to open them up."

As we've reported before, there's a science to subject lines.

SEE ALSO: 15 Tips For Writing An Excellent Email Subject Line

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Author: "Drake Baer" Tags: "R"
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Date: Wednesday, 16 Apr 2014 21:16

Google's stock declined more than 5% in after-hours trading when the company disclosed in its Q1 2014 earnings less revenue than analysts expected and less profit on the bottom line, too.

This chart explains, in part, what went wrong. Revenue was down sequentially in its core business:


Search ads are Google's core business. And while ad dollars always decline in Q1 compared to the holiday shopping season in Q4, Google's sales have usually been flat or up. This quarter, you can see that Google's total revenues declined between the quarters. Most worryingly, they declined inside its core search ad business.

What's driving the decline? It looks like paid click growth is not as strong as it used to be. Google used to get an increase of 30% in the aggregate number of paid clicks every quarter. This quarter, that growth declined to just 26%, near the levels it saw during the recession. This chart from Jefferies shows that a 26% growth rate (the blue line) would be below much of its historic growth:


The cost per click growth was roughly the same, a decline of 9%. At base, Google needs the blue line to go up as the red line stays in negative territory. If the blue line sinks to meet the red line, then that shows Google's search ad revenues are decelerating — which is bad news for Google.

That is what appears to have happened this quarter.

Interestingly, that decline in the total dollar numbers of paid clicks came as search traffic on Google appears to have reached a bit of a plateau. Here's another chart from Jefferies showing that:


Bottom line: Google isn't in decline, obviously. But it does appear that there are limits to the speed of its growth. At least one analyst talked about "deceleration" on the call, and chief business officer Nikesh Arora talked about mobile ads — which are cheaper — being undervalued in the short term. Google has been having this debate for years now, but advertisers have not been bidding up the prices of mobile ad clicks.

So, perhaps, there are limits to Google's search ad growth after all.

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Author: "Jim Edwards"
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Date: Wednesday, 16 Apr 2014 21:10

Nurse using hand sanitizer door handle

Hospitals aren't always safe places.

In 2011, more than 700,000 people got an infection while they were in a U.S. hospital, according to a study released this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That's one out of every 25 patients. Approximately 75,000 of those patients died during their hospitalization.

That's actually an improvement since 2002, but there's clearly far to go. One simple and effective way to help stop these infections is better hygiene.

But since hand sanitizer dispensers and hand-washing stations all over hospitals are too frequently ignored, a British studio named Agency of Design has come up with an elegant solution — a sanitizer dispenser that can be fitted to door handles, as shown on Wired.

Here's how they see it working:

hand sanitizer door handle.gif"We wanted to make the interaction as simple as possible, trying to make it almost subconscious," Agency of Design co-founder Rich Gilbert told Wired.

By connecting the sanitizer to a door that someone is already passing through, using it can become a habit, a natural step. "You're already holding it, so you might as well use the other hand to dispense sanitizer," Gilbert said.

The handles, designed for Altitude Medical and named PullClean, will cost $200 and will start shipping later this year.

They'll have an additional feature to help hospital administrators out: sensors connected to a web application, which will report how frequently sanitizer is dispensed, compared to how frequently the doors were opened.

Here's a video from Vimeo by Agency of Design that shows how easily germs can be picked up, and how the device will work:

PullClean from The Agency Of Design on Vimeo.

SEE ALSO: In Our Post-Antibiotic Future, Almost Anything Could Kill You

BAD BACTERIA: 'Nightmare Bacteria' Kills Up To Half Of Infected Patients

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Author: "Kevin Loria"
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Date: Wednesday, 16 Apr 2014 21:03

This chart from Statista shows how Intel's business is tied to the PC industry. This shows Intel's revenue growth versus PC shipment growth, as measured by Gartner. This chart isn't too shocking, but it does a good job of illustrating the problem Intel has to solve as the world moves to tablets and smartphones. 

Intel Chart of The Day

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Author: "Jay Yarow"
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Date: Wednesday, 16 Apr 2014 20:23

Virginia Ginni RomettyIBM just posted its first-quarter earnings and we're covering live.

The company reported earnings at $2.54 per share, exactly matching analysts' consensus estimate of $2.54 EPS.

Revenues were $22.48 billion, slightly below the $22.8 billion expected by analysts.

In a press release, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty acknowledged the company's transformation:

In the first quarter, we continued to take actions to transform parts of the business and to shift aggressively to our strategic growth areas including cloud, big data analytics, social, mobile and security.

As we move through 2014, we will begin to see the benefits from these actions. Over the long term, they will position us to drive growth and higher value for our clients.

Looking forward, the company expects operating (non-GAAP) earnings per share of at least $18.00 in 2014.

One point of note from the company's earnings press release was this bit on IBM's performance in what it considers its growth markets:

Revenues from the company’s growth markets decreased 11 percent (down 5 percent, adjusting for currency). Revenues in the BRIC countries — Brazil, Russia, India and China — decreased 11 percent (down 6 percent, adjusting for currency).  

IBM's stock was down around 3.5% in after-hours trading.

Here are more details from the press release:

Diluted EPS:

   - GAAP: $2.29, down 15 percent;

   - Operating (non-GAAP): $2.54, down 15 percent;

Net income:

   - GAAP: $2.4 billion, down 21 percent;

   - Operating (non-GAAP): $2.6 billion, down 22 percent;

Pre-tax income:

   -  GAAP: $3.0 billion, down 17 percent;

   -  Operating (non-GAAP): $3.3 billion, down 19 percent;

Gross profit margin:

   - GAAP: 46.9 percent, up 130 basis points;

   - Operating (non-GAAP): 47.6 percent, up 90 basis points;

Software up 2 percent as reported and adjusting for currency

Services down 2 percent; up 2 percent adjusting for currency and excluding divested customer care outsourcing business

Global Financing up 3 percent, up 6 percent adjusting for currency

Systems and Technology down 23 percent as reported and adjusting for currency;

Services backlog of $138 billion, up 1 percent adjusting for currency and excluding divested customer care outsourcing business;

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Author: "Kyle Russell and Karyne Levy"
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