Saving Twitter

With the acquisition of LinkedIn by Microsoft, many investors started buying Twitter stock thinking that the struggling social network would be next. Nick Bilton, one of my favorite writers with Twitter insights, recently explained why this is unlikely. So if nobody is going to buy Twitter, what can it do to survive? Can Twitter be saved?

I agree with Bilton, Twitter will not sell in the near future, specially given its latest investments in SoundCloud and Magic Pony Technology. In fact, I believe Twitter has several great opportunities within reach to overcome this difficult period.

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Who needs another messaging app?

Google announced 3 new messaging apps last week: Allo, Duo and Spaces:

All of them provide something slightly new, but do we need all these features to live in independent apps? Continue reading “Who needs another messaging app?”

What’s the mission statement of your favorite tech company?

Last Saturday I found out about AlphaGo, Google DeepMind’s computer capable of beating the European champion at the game Go; it uses “deep neural networks that have been trained by supervised learning, from human expert games, and by reinforcement learning from games of self-play“, and it’s still unknown if humans can beat it.

Watching the project’s website I noticed the copyright at the bottom and thought: is DeepMind actually aligned with Google’s business goals? A quick look to their mission statement refreshed my memory:

Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

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Apple vs FBI, who’s right?

You might think that this case is an easy one, that Apple wants to protect its customers’ privacy and the government doesn’t, that Apple is right and the FBI is not. Well, it’s not that simple.

First, let me provide a little bit of context:

  1. On December 2, 2015, Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tafsheen Malik shot and killed 14 people and injured 22 others at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California.
  2. The FBI recovered an iPhone 5c, issued by Farook’s employer, which “may contain critical communications and data prior to and around the time of the shooting“.
  3. The FBI obtained a warrant to search the iPhone, and the owner of the iPhone gave the FBI its consent.
  4. The iPhone is locked and the FBI asked Apple to help execute the search warrant.

Apple refused on a very long letter written by CEO Tim Cook (full text here). Here’s a little extract:

Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.

The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor. And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.

After reading that letter, I concluded that Apple was right, but after a discussion with a good friend, I realized that my conclusion was too simplistic.

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Steve Jobs would have loved the Apple Pencil

You have probably heard about the announcements that Apple made on Wednesday around the Apple TV, iPhone 6S, iPad Pro… and the Apple Pencil.

As usual, there are a lot of memes and jokes about the keynote, specially around the iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil; for example, a comic is making the rounds on Twitter highlighting the new iPad’s similarities with Microsoft’s Surface; and then there is this:

Putting aside whether or not the Apple Pencil is revolutionary, is it fair to bring back that image from 2007? I don’t think so. Steve Jobs’ words were uttered in a very different context, when people were used to interact with their incipient smartphones with a stylus (or with their nails).

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Amazon and the art of writing: interview with author and literary agent Mary C. Moore

Both Amazon and Apple have made recent announcements that have resonated across the literary and music industries (even though Apple has already made a royalties policy U-turn after a controversial open letter from Taylor Swift).

We live in a society where technology allows consumers to access creative content easier and faster than ever, so I wanted to better understand how some of these decisions (like Amazon’s new pay-per-page policy) affect the industry at its core. Below, you can read an interview with Mary C. Moore, author and literary agent.

Amazon recently announced a new payment policy for self-publishing authors where they’ll basically get paid for each page of their book that people actually read. Amazon claims that they received great feedback from authors, so how do you think this will affect the industry?

Well, this is speculation and opinions on this strategy vary wildly across the board. As the way it stands now, the largest impact is going to be on the self-publishing authors who publish exclusively through Amazon. Beyond that, the effects will probably be felt on writing trends. A pay-per-page system skews in favor of high-paced, tension-filled, cliff-hanging writing that makes the reader continue to turn the page rather than some of the more subtle and nuanced books that perhaps favor lovely writing, or a surreal storyline, or something more abstract.

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Twitter is still about news, tweets and you

As I was getting ready to say goodbye to 2014, I read a post from Owen Wilson titled “Twitter isn’t about news, tweets or even you anymore“. The thesis of that article was: Twitter doesn’t care about users anymore, only about ads and money.

Even though I agree with parts of that statement, I think he failed to mention some important points. Twitter is very interested in its users, in fact it’s dying to find the formula that keeps them engaged. The problem is that the company seems to be focused on making Wall Street happy first.

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About the Sony hack and ‘The Interview’

2014 has been a year filled with privacy issues, hacks and data leaks. Some of the most memorable cases include the Snapchat hacks (which leaked around 4.6 million usernames and phone numbers in January, and about 100k images from users in October), the iCloud photo leaks (releasing about 500 private pictures of celebrities in August) and more recently, the infamous Sony hack (leaking personal data, emails, movie scripts and even copies of unreleased films from Sony Pictures Entertainment).

This last hack is still unfolding, and it’s not only impacting Hollywood’s world: last week, Snapchat’s business plans were disclosed through leaked emails from Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton, who also happens to be on Snapchat’s board.

The saddened memo sent after that by Evan Spiegel left me thinking once more about the power of secrets, especially this sentence:

We keep secrets because we get to do our work free from judgment – until we’re ready to share it. We keep secrets because keeping secrets gives you space to change your mind until you’re really sure that you’re right.

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On-demand delivery startups and local economies: interview with Sergio Treviño, Co-Founder of BrewDrop

On-Demand Delivery, Instant Gratification… if you’re not used to hear these words already, you will be soon. The fast-changing space of on-demand economy is filled with startups that will bring anything to you, almost instantly.

Uber, Airbnb, Caviar, PushForPizza, Munchery, Doordash, Postmates, SpoonRocket, Sprig, Instacart, Shyp, TaskRabbit; all of them are great examples of this fascinating trend, and today we are interviewing Sergio Treviño, Co-Founder and Lead Technical Architect of BrewDrop.

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Do you need to be a celebrity for your app to be a success?

Why did Jelly become famous? And Medium? What about Square? What do they all have in common? They are all great products, that’s for sure, but there is something else: as it turns out, behind each of these awesome companies there is one of the co-founders of Twitter.

Are new tech products more successful when tech celebrities are behind them? Is it really possible for the same people to keep having several billion-dollar ideas? Do some of these ideas become famous businesses due in part to previous successes?

All these questions were popping in my head as I was reading the book “Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal” (I loved it by the way, although I’m not sure all that drama is actually true), and I would say that the answer is probably ‘yes’ for all of them.

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