Summary of “How Silicon Valley Plans to Conquer the Classroom”

A Baltimore County school board member, David Uhlfelder, said a representative from the Office of the Maryland State Prosecutor had interviewed him in September about Mr. Dance’s relationship with a former school vendor.
At least $13,000 of Mr. Dance’s airline tickets, hotel bills, meals and other fees were paid for by organizations sponsored by tech companies, some of which were school vendors, The Times found.
One prominent provider is the Education Research and Development Institute, or ERDI, which regularly gathers superintendents and other school leaders for conferences where they can network with companies that sell to schools.
A $13,000 fee for Bronze membership entitles a company to one confidential meeting, where executives can meet with five school leaders to discuss products and school needs.
A few months after the event, the school board approved additional money for both companies.
Asked whether Ms. White had received ERDI payments, Mr. Dickerson said, “Participation in ERDI is done independently of the school system.” In an email, Ms. White said she found ERDI to be a “Beneficial professional learning experience.” She didn’t respond to a question about ERDI compensation.
Mr. Sundstrom, ERDI’s president, said education companies pay a fee to attend events “Not to meet school leaders or make a sale,” but to get meaningful feedback on their education products from knowledgeable school leaders.
Baltimore County’s travel rules say, “No travel expenses will be paid by those seeking to do business with the Baltimore County Public Schools prior to obtaining a contract.” Mr. Dickerson explained that applied to companies currently bidding for contracts.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Warren Buffett’s best investing advice for beginners”

This was Warren Buffett’s response, on his 87th birthday, when asked about his best investment advice.
Well, fortunately you can learn from investors who DO have experience – investors like Warren Buffett himself.
Warren Buffett says that the best investment one can make is on his/her own abilities.
Warren Buffett says that many people think quite a bit before making any investment – and sometimes think TOO much.
One of the best investment tips from Warren Buffett is to not put too much stock into each and every news headline that you see.
You might be astonished to know that even Warren Buffett makes mistakes – big ones too.
According to Buffett, the secret to getting a better return on investment is to buy a stock and forget about it.
There are two principles behind this: if you buy a stock for less than it’s true worth, the stock’s price will eventually converge with it’s intrinsic value; and if you buy a wonderful business, the value of that business will compound and increase exponentially the longer you hold on to it.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Big Brother isn’t just watching: workplace surveillance can track your every move”

How can an employer make sure its remote workers aren’t slacking off? In the case of talent management company Crossover, the answer is to take photos of them every 10 minutes through their webcam.
Today’s workplace surveillance software is a digital panopticon that began with email and phone monitoring but now includes keeping track of web-browsing patterns, text messages, screenshots, keystrokes, social media posts, private messaging apps like WhatsApp and even face-to-face interactions with co-workers.
The majority of surveillance tech providers focus their attention on the financial sector, where companies are legally required to track staff communications to prevent insider trading.
Last year an employee at an IT services company sent a private chat message to a friend at work worried that he had just shared his sexual identity with his manager in a meeting and fearing he’d face career reprisal.
Wiretap detected the employee’s concern and alerted a senior company exec who was then able to intervene, talk to the manager and defuse the situation.
The demonstrator opened the email in front of a room full of peers to discover his best employee was plotting to move to another company.
The spying technique that most companies avoid, despite Crossover’s enthusiasm, is accessing employees’ webcams.
American companies generally aren’t required by law to disclose how they monitor employees using company-issued devices, although they tend to include a catch-all clause in employment contracts declaring such monitoring.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Good Strategy Execution Requires Balancing 4 Tensions”

Putting strategy into practice is notoriously difficult.
In our experience, the primary obstacle to strategy execution is a failure to balance the inherent tensions that characterize any major execution effort.
Successful strategy execution calls for skillful orchestration of sometimes opposing forces and competing needs.
The company defined a new growth strategy that would require a significant improvement in its ability to innovate rapidly.
While there was broad consensus on the strategy, there was disagreement within the leadership team regarding the best way to implement the strategy – especially when it came to making critical decisions, involving and empowering managers and staff, and holding people accountable for results.
The strategy called for significant changes to the company’s organizational structure and the way it marketed, sold, and serviced customers across numerous geographies.
As the leadership team held numerous conversations across the organization about strategy execution, they came to the realization that most midlevel managers and frontline staff perceived serious capability gaps.
Getting strategy done well often calls for trade-offs between delivering short-term results and implementing foundational changes that require time.

The orginal article.

Summary of “What Happened to the Internet’s Favorite T-Shirt Company?”

The company’s founding idea was that anyone could submit a design, all designs would receive scores from registered users, and, after review by Threadless staff, the winning designs would receive the honor of being printed and sold.
At the core of the Threadless business model is a community of artists that submit to design contests, participate in the brand’s social network, and promote the company to their friends and relatives.
Nickell told Racked that Threadless prints “One design for every 1,000 submitted,” just 0.1 percent of submissions.
Standout designs helped make Threadless huge – but that didn’t necessarily make the artists submitting them rich.
While per-shirt royalties from the start would have massively benefitted the most successful artists, such as Burns, many designers said that the windfall $2,500 prize for winning the weekly design competition was preferable to them and they lost the motivation to submit designs due to the change.
Designer sonmi wrote on the Threadless forum that the changes to how artists would be paid “Makes it feel less like a community. Less special.”
Threadless fans report that the shirts now appear in UK T.K. Maxx stores due to wholesale agreements confirmed by Threadless staff in July 2017.
The revelation prompted designer Farnell to entreat, “[t]here was a mystery around Threadless,” telling the company, “Don’t forget why you were once special, the pinnacle of unique T-shirt design, always one step ahead and never following the crowd.” The company that once turned down offers from Target and Urban Outfitters in order to work with smaller vendors, then negotiated limited, careful distribution deals with Nordstrom, Target, Gap, and Bed Bath & Beyond has gone mass in a vastly less cool way than users sneering about Urban Outfitters in the 2000s could have imagined.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why the ‘end of the startup era’ could be great for entrepreneurs”

Entrepreneurs may have to settle for acquiring mere generational wealth, rather than becoming “Pledge to cure all diseases” wealthy, but the death of startups has been greatly exaggerated.
How consolidation could be great for startups The kind of industry consolidation we see with the “Frightful Five” isn’t new to tech, it’s the norm in most industries and can actually spur innovation.
A hundred years after the “Winners” were established in pharma, startups are still producing money-making miracle drugs and minting multi-millionaire startup founders with startling regularity.
If a startup develops a novel cancer drug, or even a molecule that looks promising, Sanofi, Novartis or one of their peers will buy it.
If a startup isn’t building for the long haul, they should orient themselves to a world where more humble valuations are the norm.
Look to places other than San FranciscoConsumer drones are an $8 billion tech industry that is thoroughly dominated by DJI, a Chinese startup.
Vape shops won’t spur the next great startup, but their rapid growth shows that tech has not drawn its last breath, and that huge opportunities for startups can come from anywhere.
What was once a company that served a niche segment of the tech industry is now a major player – Nvidia’s market cap is twice as large as Tesla’s! It may be the end of the startup world as we’ve known it, but students of business history should feel fine.

The orginal article.

Summary of “‘We can’t compete’: why universities are losing their best AI scientists”

According to a Guardian survey of Britain’s top ranking research universities, tech firms are hiring AI experts at a prodigious rate, fuelling a brain drain that has already hit research and teaching.
Pantic said the majority of top AI researchers moved to a handful of companies, meaning their skills and experience were not shared through society.
Many of the best researchers move to Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple.
Ghahramani sees no sign that industry’s demand for talented AI researchers has peaked.
“Universities will have to train enough people to meet the demand, and that’s a challenge if lecturers and postdocs are being lured into industry. It’s like killing the geese that lay the golden eggs. Companies are starting to realise that and some of the major tech companies are starting to give back to universities by sponsoring lectureships and donating funds.”
He said universities should also focus on researchers’ career development, giving free access to external training and teaming up with business schools to broaden researchers’ knowledge.
Ghahramani believes UK universities will have to become more flexible about researchers holding joint positions.
“They need to be flexible about intellectual property arrangements. They need to be flexible about PhD students who might want to spend time in a world-leading industry AI lab. That’s what we need to get around the problems. The universities that have been flexible have benefited,” he said.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Tech Goes to Washington – Stratechery by Ben Thompson”

Did you catch Feinstein in the background asking “Did he say 330 million?” with surprise in her voice? What might she have thought had it been noted that Facebook has 2 billion users! At that moment it was hard to see this hearing amounting to anything; the next Senator, Dick Durbin of Illinois, asked why Facebook didn’t, and I quote, “Hold the phone” when a Russian intelligence agency took out the ads.
A few Senators later Richard Blumenthal demanded Twitter determine how many people declined to vote after seeing tweets suggesting voters could text their choice, and that Facebook reveal whom may have taught the Russian intelligence agency how to do targeting; both requests are, quite obviously, unknowable by the companies in question.
“We do believe these tools are powerful, and yet we have a responsibility to make sure they’re not used to inflame division,” said Colin Stretch, Facebook’s general counsel.
What Kennedy surely realized – and what Stretch, apparently, did not – is that Facebook had already effectively answered Kennedy’s question: the very act of investigating the accounts used by Russian intelligence entailed doing the sort of sleuthing that Kennedy wanted Stretch to say was possible.
To be clear, Stretch made clear that Facebook did this because the accounts in question had been deemed inauthenetic; that removed all of the external legal, internal policy, and business model limitations that would prevent Facebook from doing such forensic work to an individual account.
To endeavor to stamp out inflammatory and divisive statements is, by definition, to exercise a degree of power that is clearly latent in Facebook et al, and clearly corrosive to the democratic process.
Befitting his background as a comedian, Franken has a knack for framing the question at hand in a way that is easy for laypeople to understand, and all but impossible for Facebook to answer.
The fact of the matter is that Facebook is more powerful than any entity we have seen before.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Alphabet’s Eric Schmidt On Fake News, Russia, And “Information Warfare”

In some of the most unequivocal comments yet, the company’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, recently acknowledged to Fast Company that the search giant didn’t do enough to safeguard its services against Russian manipulation.
Schmidt’s comments, from an August 30 interview published as part of a new Fast Company feature about how Alphabet is grappling with digital threats such as fake news and disinformation, offers a preview of how Google may frame its testimony before the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence Committees this week.
“Some of the problems that are being created are being created because the [tech] companies aren’t fixing them,” Schmidt told Fast Company.
Some of the research on the problem of fake news is being handled by Jigsaw, a think tank-like subsidiary previously known as Google Ideas.
Google, in response to growing public criticism since that time, has created initiatives to address the problem of fake news.
Who serves as Jigsaw’s CEO and is also a senior adviser to Schmidt at Alphabet, says the company can’t solve the fake news problem immediately.
“So that’s a really interesting problem, that Google and particularly Jigsaw should be pursuing, whether with fake news sites or more subtle things. Just using the Russians as an example-although plenty of other governments can do this-how would you feel if that stuff gets stronger? Would you be worried about it?” Artificial intelligence and machine learning will be essential to addressing these challenges, he explains, but “It remains to be seen whether some of these algorithms can be used to prevent bad stuff.”
“If there is going to be a regulatory framework that would come out of looking at something like fake news, how in the world are those people going to understand what’s actually happening on the internet if we don’t? It’s impossible. So if we can help understand it, then we can help educate policy makers, and we can also take some prophylactic steps beforehand so we can obviate the need for something that’s very cumbersome.”

The orginal article.

Summary of “Thanks to Wall St., There May Be Too Many Restaurants”

While consumer demand contributed to the restaurant boom, it was changes on Wall Street that really fueled the explosion.
New fast-food investors wanted to rely less on owning restaurants, and offloaded many company locations to eager buyers who came with bags of cheap money from the banks.
While every Dunkin’ Donuts or Taco Bell may look the same, dozens and sometimes hundreds of independent owners can operate most of the restaurants within a single brand.
The shuttering of restaurants could have a major impact on the labor market.
Since 2010, restaurants have accounted for one out of every seven new jobs, and many restaurateurs complain that it has become increasingly difficult to hire and retain workers.
Those positions could be in jeopardy if sales continue to fall and force more restaurants to close.
“Year over year, we are seeing chain restaurants grow at twice the rate of overall population growth,” said Mr. Fernandez, the TDn2K analyst.
“We believe now there are probably too many restaurants and too many brands.”

The orginal article.