Andrew Ng is raising a $150M AI Fund

 We knew that Andrew Ng had more than just a series of deep learning courses up his sleeve when he announced the first phase of his deeplearning.ai last week. It’s clear now that the turn of Ng’s three part act is a $150 million venture capital fund targeting AI investments. Ng, who formerly founded Google’s Brain Team and served as chief scientist at Baidu has long… Read More

How the Imagined “Rationality” of Engineering Is Hurting Diversity — and Engineering

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Just how common are the views on gender espoused in the memo that former Google engineer James Damore was recently fired for distributing on an internal company message board? The flap has women and men in tech — and elsewhere — wondering what their colleagues really think about diversity. Research we’ve conducted shows that while most people don’t share Damore’s views, male engineers are more likely to.

Engineers are taught that “engineering work can and should be disconnected from ‘social’ and ‘political’ concerns because such considerations may bias otherwise ‘pure’ engineering practice,” to quote a 2013 study by Erin A. Cech. This viewpoint — let’s call it engineering purity — means engineers believe they need to protect the purity of their profession from extraneous considerations that threaten engineering’s rationality and rigor. Damore’s memo is an exemplar of this kind of thinking. “De-emphasize empathy,” Damore advises. “Being emotionally unengaged helps us better reason about the

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“Finishing The Work”

These days, it’s easy to start a company — and it’s hard to build one. And, we know 90% of new ventures don’t ultimately work out. We all focus on the growth and momentum, the outliers and the high-fliers, and for good reason — those outcomes end up “covering” the rest of the table. When things don’t work out, investors know it’s coming, but no one can say anything. It’s not our story to tell. And despite what we read in Medium post-mortems, there is not a uniformity of action and integrity when the founders of a failed newco wind things down. A dream passes away and across one’s mind while one signs paperwork and answers the same questions over and over again.

I wanted to highlight that, in these moments, not everyone acts out the finale of the play. Sometimes, folks can’t bear to go through the motions. In Continue reading "“Finishing The Work”"

Do Your Customers Actually Want a “Smart” Version of Your Product?

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There’s been a gold rush happening in technology these last few years, focused on the Internet of Things, or IoT. It’s even frequently been referred to as “the next Industrial Revolution.” The stampede to connect anything and everything in the home to a mobile app – a stampede that I’d argue has been driven by grossly inflated numbers and speculation –  has the potential to lure companies into unfamiliar territory, with no guarantee of a safe or profitable return.  I know because I’ve been there.

The company I lead, Big Ass Solutions, manufactures and sells fans, lights, and controls for commercial and residential use. Our products work with apps or without apps. And while we’ve found customers for IoT connectivity, the number of our customers who value the new technology has been much lower than industry projections led us to believe.

There are some useful lessons here for

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Success with the Internet of Things Requires More Than Chasing the Cool Factor

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Many companies begin an internet of things (IoT) journey with great expectations, only to end up with disappointing business results. Gartner recently estimated that through 2018 “80% of IoT implementations will squander transformational opportunities” and fail to monetize IoT data. And a new survey by Cisco found that one-third of all completed IoT projects were not considered a success. In my experience with dozens of organizations implementing IoT solutions, those that achieved their expected ROI changed their traditional business approaches in one or more of the following ways:

They Developed a Partner Ecosystem

The essence of IoT is interconnectivity. Interconnectivity is about more than the connections between devices — it is about the connections between customers, partners, and suppliers.

Accordingly, IoT is driving a shift in business structures from a one-company-does-it-all model to a let’s-work-together approach. This means that companies must leave behind traditional models of proprietary systems, rigid processes, and reliance on

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How Consumer Brands Can Connect with Customers in a Changing Retail Landscape

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When news broke earlier this year about Amazon’s courtship of some of the world’s biggest consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands, it touched off a wave of speculation. Was the e-commerce giant engaged in a long game to alter the relationships between consumer goods makers and their brick-and-mortar retail partners? However it plays out, Amazon’s outreach exposed a digital divide in the consumer products world. On one side is the growing interest of brands in direct-to-consumer (D2C) models. On the other side are persistent worries about conflict — not just with traditional distribution channels but also with retailers carrying the brand. To bridge this gap, we’ve identified seven tactics that pioneering brands have used to arrive at an effective digital strategy: Understand how digital serves different consumer segments. Brands can deepen engagement by bringing people together for shared experiences. Kimberly-Clark, for example, specifically designed its Huggies rewards club to attract and educate new
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How Machine Learning Is Helping Morgan Stanley Better Understand Client Needs

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Systems that provide automated investment advice from financial firms have been referred to as robo-advisers. While no one in the industry is particularly fond of the term, it has caught on nonetheless. However, the enhanced human advising process — augmented by machine learning — that was recently announced by Morgan Stanley goes well beyond the robo label, and may help to finally kill off the term. New York–based Morgan Stanley, in business since 1935, has been known as one of the more human-centric firms in the retail investing industry. It has 16,000 financial advisors (FAs), who historically have maintained strong relationships with their investor clients through such traditional channels as face-to-face meetings and phone calls. However, the firm knows that these labor-intensive channels limit the number of possible relationships and appeal primarily to older investors (according to a Deloitte study, the average wealth management client in the U.S. across the
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