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Magic Johnson in Tech?

Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson Joins Detroit VC Firm To Invest In Tech Startups

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

NBA legend Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson this morning announced that he is joining and investing inDetroit Venture Partners, a VC firm that invests in seed and early-stage technology companies primarily located in the heart of downtown Detroit, as its fourth general partner.

The Hall of Fame basketball star will be working with the founders of the firm, namely Quicken Loans founder (and Cleveland Cavaliers owner) Dan Gilbert, ePrize founder Josh Linkner and investor Brian Hermelin, and invest ‘millions of dollars’ in the fund, according to the PR.

Detroit Venture Partners was established in 2010 and has made investments in startups like Are You A HumanFLUD NewsStylecaster and Sociocast. The fund will invest exclusively in digital media, mobile app development, cloud computing, e-commerce and social networking companies.

Magic, who played basketball for Michigan State University before being drafted by the LA Lakers, in a statement says he believes strongly in the “Detroit 2.0 movement”.

I’m not entirely sure what that means, but according to the LA Times, Johnson is referring to the initiative launched by Dan Gilbert in which he relocated Quicken Loans and its 1,700 workers to the Detroit suburbs.

Detroit Venture Partners, along with some of its portfolio companies, will be located in Gilbert’s downtown Detroit Madison Theatre Building, which is currently being transformed into an coworking / incubator hub where tech companies can work together.


Clues in Google+ Source Code

Forget Clues, You Can Find The Google Games Logo (And More) In The Google+ Code

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Shortly after Google+ was unveiled, Engadget got a tip from someone who dug deep into its source code and found verbal references to something called Google Games. A tipster of ours has now dug a little deeper and managed to find more of them.

In the Google+ source code, Yvo Schaap – who also found the embeddable +1 button before it was released – actually discovered a link to the Google Games logo (shown above).

You may remember another tipster found the logo for Google Music ahead of its debut at some point as well, although that only took a simple URL tweak.

Aside from the logo, Schaap also found references to API endpoints such as “/_/games/getGameFriends”, “/_/games/getActivities” and, perhaps more interestingly, “/_/games/postToStream”, pointing to a characteristically social gaming service.

Of course, the actual existence of a Google-branded social gaming service, which is yet to be launched, let alone announced, shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.

As we revealed a year ago, Google quietly invested $100 million or more in social gaming giantZynga. They acquired Slide, which also develops social games, and its investment arm Google Ventures backed gaming companies like ngmocoKabam and SCVNGR.

At one point, they even recruited gaming industry vet Mark DeLoura (formerly of Ubisoft, Sony Computer Entertainment America, Nintendo and others) as developer advocate for game-related products, though he quit after only 4 months on the job (he’s now a VP at THQ).

And according to a recently surfaced job opening, Google is looking for a Product Manager to “grow its brand-new business – Games at Google!”.

Google has learned that any consumer-focused platform needs games in order to thrive by looking at the success of Android if not simply by observing the rapid rise of Facebook, and it makes sense for its social networking service Google+ to incorporate games in that regard.

In fact, Google’s edge in the mobile app distribution space and the spectacular growth of the Android platform should make Google Games – in whatever form it takes shape – all the more interesting.

As Inside Social Games pointed out when the first references to Google Games were unearthed, we should consider the fact that Google SVP Vic Gundotra used to oversee the company’s mobile app strategy prior to co-heading Google’s social efforts.

What Google’s social gaming platform will eventually look like – and how it will be positioned and if it will be able to adequately compete with Facebook and other online gaming platforms – is anyone’s guess for the moment, though I have the feeling it won’t take that much longer for Google to start talking more about its imminent foray into the gaming industry.

Best Resume Ever

I vote all resumes should look something like this

Interesting Discussion

I recently met with a developer who owns his own company  doing different projects around town. It was great conversation and idea sharing. We began to talk about different areas of IT and our ideas of what was new and up and coming.

One of the subjects we were talking about was mobile development. I think everyone knows that this is an area that is defiantly growing. If you are familiar with the different stages of technology growth, mobile development is somewhere in between the adoption and adaption stage. Companies are beginning to see the value in these applications and start allocating resources to take it to the next level. This brought us to another topic, The Cloud.

What is the Cloud?  Companies like Amazon promote and market their cloud system, and the appeal is that you can essentially backup what is on your computer, or on your server at work. Some companies are moving solely to the cloud for storage. To the average user it is this magical area in space that you can put stuff and not have to worry about it.

Here is what you have to understand about the cloud, it isn’t a mythical black hole wear stuff just sits. To have a cloud you have a data center with servers. It is simply a convenient way to store data, files, etc on someone else’s network. Now, the question that I think needs to be asked and/or discussed is around security. How are you staying ahead of hackers? What kind of firewall are you using? What does your down time look like? What is your disaster recovery plan? You can build a huge brick wall around your town, but what about that laser that can burn through brick?

With the cloud idea moving so fast coupled with large amounts of breaches in security by hackers, these are some legitimate things to think about. The security company that can quickly and effectively adapt will come out on top.  Security has always been an important business, but with the sophistication of hackers now a days it plays an even more important role.



Lumosity is a company that has created online games to help strengthen your brain. What exactly does that mean? Well, its said to improve brain functions like memory, problem solving skills, attention span, etc. It is widely studied that brain strengthening games and diets may have preventative qualities for diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Dementia, etc.  Here is the website of the new start up company that has just raised $32.5 million to take their company to the next level. Lumosity was created by scientists at neuroscientists at Stanford University. Here is the website so you can check them out…

I recently read an article by the Impact Achievement Group who just came out with a study  that talks about the disconnect between upper levels of management and the employees who are being reviewed.

What they found doesn’t seem to be all that ground breaking, but it provides for a good discussion none the less. 62% of executives and vice presidents felt  performance reviews reflect results. However 43% which consists of those who are being reviewed and/or are peers to the ones who are giving the performance review, felt the process was not as effective.

The difference shows a disconnect between upper level management and those being reviewed. The question is what is the right answer to fix this? Do executives get more involved in reviews? Do you have a focus group or survey your employees to see what kind of reviews will truly reflect performance? Or do employees just not like getting reviewed?

If you have an opinion please make a comment…

Here is the other side to the IPO boom. It looks like Groupon and Pandora are next!


How to invest in the social-networking IPO boom

What to know about Groupon, Twitter and Wall Street’s next tech craze

 By Rex Crum, MarketWatch

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — Call it a wave or a bubble, or something else entirely, there is no question that initial public offerings of social-networking companies have taken hold of the minds — and wallets — of investors looking to get in on the next big thing in tech stocks.

As if any further evidence of that was needed, it was found in the May 19 IPO of online professional-networking company LinkedIn Corp. LNKD -1.44% , which went public at $45 a share, climbed as high as $122.70, and ended that day at $94.25 — a gain of 109%. Following that initial burst LinkedIn’s shares have settled a bit, trading at around $77.50.


Tech ‘bubble’ is on table at D9: Technology executives, including Groupon’s Andrew Mason (above, right), label the current frothiness in the Internet market as the early days of a boom, not a certain sign of a bubble. 

But the response to LinkedIn has set the stage for other social-media IPOs, including the anticipated stock offerings of the biggest of the social-media giants, Facebook, which is believed to be readying itself to go public next year.

On Thursday alone, online daily deal site Groupon filed to go public with an IPO aimed at raising $750 million, while streaming radio company Pandora set a price range of $7 to $9 a share for its upcoming IPO. And investors are also eager for IPOs that are expected down the road from the likes of Twitter and social-gaming company Zynga.

“For a while, an IPO wasn’t seen as a viable exit option. If the market is coming back to life, that’s probably a good thing,” said Bill Maris, managing partner of Google Ventures, the venture capital unit of Google Inc. GOOG -0.38% .

“It’s a commitment when you make an investment, and we want the companies we invest in to grow and be successful,” Maris said. Last week, for example, Google Ventures made an investment in Kabam, a social-gaming company that claims to have 60 million users. Google Ventures didn’t disclose the dollar amount of its stake.

Bubble trouble

While social-media companies are in the tech spotlight, so are questions about the enthusiasm for investing in the social-media sector. Looking at LinkedIn’s rocket launch, it’s worth remembering how shares of Internet browser company Netscape more than doubled on their first day of trading in August 1995. That IPO helped spark a dot-com mania that by early 2000 had investors swarming over dubious newcomers including online grocer Webvan and pet-products retailer

Is another Internet bubble on the way, or does the business of social-media companies differ significantly from the Web darlings that captivated the market in the first dot-com boom — and fell hardest in the subsequent bust?

Groupon, Pandora add to Internet IPO frenzy

Investor enthusiasm in the online sector will be tested again as Groupon files to go public and Pandora sets its IPO price. MarketWatch’s Rex Crum and John Letzing talk about what’s in store for both companies.

“Is this a bubble?” asked David Weir, chief executive of SharesPost, an online platform for investors to gain access to stock in privately held companies including Twitter and Facebook.

Weir doesn’t think so, at least when it comes to the pace of IPOs and the quality of the companies in the pipeline.

“If you look at the number of IPOs between 1990 and 2000, the average was over 500 a year, and during the bubble that was in the same ballpark,” he said. “Since then, there have been 120 to 130 on average.”

Weir said part of the decline in IPOs, especially among tech companies, is because companies are staying private longer and building up evidence of actually being able to do real business and generate revenue, if not profits off the bat, than was true in the past.

All of which makes these social-media outfits particularly attractive when they do go public. “There are fewer dynamic companies to invest in and that is driving the appetites of investors,” Weir said.

A New Bubble?

This is a good read about the debate on whether we are on the cusp of another bubble. One of the problem with these huge private companies is that when they go public their valuation is so high compared to their actual revenue and or profits. In other words the stock price does not accurately correlate with (as this writer puts it) “operating results.” I think he does a good job of shedding some light on this subject. After LinkedIn’s recent IPO I bet they don’t have this on their new “Top Headlines on LinkedIn Today” 🙂

Michael Arrington

9 hours ago

It was just a little over a month ago that I wrote “We’re In The Middle Of A Terrible Blubble!” – a post about the difference between the Internet bubble of 2000 and the “blubble” (as I call it) that we’re in today. The short version of the post is this: venture capitalists like to declare valuation bubbles to fight rising valuations, and the press eats it up because it’s dramatic.

in 1999 the Nasdaq was out of control crazy with no real relationship between stock prices and operating results. We’re not seeing anything like that today, partially because so few companies are going public. And many of the huge-valuation private companies, like Facebook, Groupon and Zynga, have rumored profits that would justify their lofty valuations. And while Twitter is still too cool for revenue, I’ve considered them the exception rather than the rule.

But the market has shifted in the last month since I wrote that post. Things that have happened in the last couple of weeks in particular are worrying me. Well, not exactly worrying me. But making me far less comfortable with the health of the startup ecosystem.

So I scratch my head at Marc Andreessen, who argued today at the AllThingsD Conference that there’s (still) no bubble in tech. His conclusions don’t worry me so much as his logic.

A key characteristic of a bubble is that no one thinks its a bubble,” he says, noting that in 1999, people were euphoric. “If everybody’s upset, it’s a good sign…I hope there are lots of bubble stories.”

Everyone wasn’t euphoric in 1999. There was lots and lots of talk of a bubble. See, for example, this 1999 NY Times story title “Is Frenzy for Internet Stocks a Bubble Waiting to Burst?” Here’s another article in Forbes. And there are lots, lots more.

That’s not saying much. As with recessions, any ambitious economist will predict a bubble every year. No one remembers the misses, but you get an awesome book deal when you’re finally right. “Declare a bubble early and declare it often,” as I said in my previous post.

But Andreessen’s argument that there was no talk of bubbles in 1999 is just wrong.

His other argument is that “It can’t be a bubble because the stock market isn’t acting like it’s a bubble.” Except for newly public LinkedIn, which has a 2,000+ P/E ratio. And ZipCar, which is yet to become profitable so it doesn’t have a P/E ratio, but it’s still worth a billion dollars on Nasdaq.

But the big companies, says Andreessen, still have reasonable P/E ratios. And he’s right. Microsoft was at 72 in 1999. Today it’s less than 10.

And that’s the best argument that things are still sane, because the public markets haven’t gone crazy yet.

There sure are signs, though, that those public markets are aching for a new tech stock bubble. Imagine if Facebook went public today. Think they’d hit a $200 billion market cap immediately? They’re at $75ish billion today on the secondary markets, so why not?

Google’s only worth $170 billion.

That’s the problem. The markets are dying for growth opportunities and they are going to jump on any tech IPO that smells like a winner and price that stock so high that it becomes a loser. The blubble in the private markets today can very easily turn into a real live bubble on the NYSE and Nasdaq tomorrow, and I’m not sure there’s anything that is going to stop it.

And that private company blubble is starting to look more like a real bubble, too. In March, Andreessen’s partner Ben Horowitz argued that private company valuations aren’t all that crazy. “In recent high profile private financing rounds for private technology companies with valuations over $1B, the valuation multiples were at or below corresponding multiples for publicly traded companies such as Google,” said Horowitz.

That was true then (except for Twitter), but there are deals being closed now that blow that argument out of the water. AirBnB, for example, will close a financing at a higher than $1 billion valuation. The company is awesome but they still have very low revenue and certainly aren’t profitable. And most interesting of all is that Andreessen Horowitz will lead the round.

I love Andreessen Horowitz’s swagger and willingness to place big bets on risky things. I just hope they’ve got more behind those bets than a faulty memory of what was happening in 1999 and an argument about private company valuations that they are singlehandedly making invalid.

And, really, they probably do. Because all signs point to a real bubble, probably starting later this year when a lot more companies start to go public. And when Facebook goes IPO, watch out. buy as much stock as you can and hold it for as long as you dare. There will be a lot of money to be made right before everything really goes to hell.

In a previous blog I talked about Android vs Apple. My opinion was Android has the better long term value, but they needed to offer more consistent user experiences. Hopefully this new platform will help with that. I always knew they would take my advice 🙂

App builders eager for taste of Android ‘Ice Cream Sandwich’

Developers hope the upcoming Android release will resolve fragmentation issues

Developers are hopeful that the upcoming “Ice Cream Sandwich” release of Android will fix the long-standing problem of fragmentation on the platform, which has forced application builders to write their programs differently for the multiple versions of the OS in circulation.

Android OS 4 “Ice Cream Sandwich” is due by year’s end, providing a unified platform for both smartphones and tablet devices. “It’s definitely going to be a good direction because fragmentation seems to have been a direction they were going in. Hopefully, this brings it all back together,” said Brian O’Neil, software architect at Turner Broadcasting. Developers could find an easier path with “Ice Cream Sandwich,” he said.

[ Google is also extending Android so it can be used for custom-built devices; InfoWorld’s Neil McAllister explains what the Android ADK is all about. | Keep up with the latest developer news with InfoWorld’s Developer World newsletter. | Follow Paul Krill on Twitter. ]

Concurring was Mark Wolgemuth, chief architect at Web time-tracking tool vendor “We have an Android app that I’m working on trying to get it to work across [versions] 2.2.x [“Froyo”], 2.3 [“Gingerbread”], and 3.0 [“Honeycomb”], and the UIs behave a little differently in some ways. To not have to code to a diverse branch of platforms and be able to code to just one and instead use screen-size detection and things like that to handle UIs is a much better solution.”

“Ice Cream Sandwich” is positioned as an open source release for multiple device form factors. “We want one OS that runs everywhere,” said Mike Cleron, a member of the Google technical staff. Capabilities from the 3.0 “Honeycomb” tablet release of Android — including a holographic UI, multitasking UI, and richer widgets — will be able to run on smartphones. Also, APIs will enable developers to take a UI and scale it across different form factors. For conferencing applications, “Ice Cream Sandwich” will be able to detect who is speaking and shine the device’s camera on that person.

“I think [the upgrade] will help with fragmentation as far as the tablets and the mobile world is concerned,” said Mike Adams, a Web developer at marketing firm Brooks Bell Interactive who has dabbled in Android application development. “Developers right now are developing for multiple devices, which can cause problems depending on their hardware. Just to have one source for an SDK is going to help out tremendously.”

Android has been beset by too many OS versions, said Conor Power, CEO of SaaS developer No Good Software. A movement by Google toward unity is the “right direction,” he said.

Mobile Web application builder Rich Manaling said fragmentation involving different screen sizes has been the biggest complaint he’s heard about Android. But Apple iOS developers also deal with different screen resolutions for different iPhones, he said. Manalang expects most improvements in “Ice Cream Sandwich” to be related to the UI layer.

Android application developer Matthew Nakatani, a student at Sonoma State University, lauded Google’s plan to have Android devices support 18 months of OS upgrades after their release. “Previously, the devices were never guaranteed an upgrade,” he said. “So, you [would] buy a device, it’s got the software on it and you throw it out.”

“That [new policy] alone is huge because that reduces the amount of devices you’re going to be throwing out, and so reduces the amount of new devices that you’re going to have to be purchasing,” Nakatani said. Partners such as Sony Ericsson, Verizon, Motorola, and AT&T will receive OS upgrades for their devices.

This article, “App builders eager for taste of Android ‘Ice Cream Sandwich’,” was originally published at Follow the latest developments in business technology news and get a digest of the key stories each day in the InfoWorld Daily newsletter. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.

A buddy of mine sent me this article that I think hits the nail on the head. There are a lot of developers out there, but there are a small group who are able set themselves apart. Long in short, they do this by being able to show experiences where they have built something on their own. Not only that but they can describe their code and the theory/reasoning behind it.

Jon Evans

May 7, 2011

We’ve all lived the nightmare. A new developer shows up at work, and you try to be welcoming, but he1 can’t seem to get up to speed; the questions he asks reveal basic ignorance; and his work, when it finally emerges, is so kludgey that it ultimately must be rewritten from scratch by more competent people. And yet his interviewers—and/or the HR department, if your company has been infested by that bureaucratic parasite—swear that they only hire above-average/A-level/top-1% people.

It’s a big problem, especially now. There’s a boom on. I get harassing emails from recruiters every day. Everyone’s desperate to hire developers…but developers are not fungible. A great coder can easily be 50 times more productive than a mediocre one, while bad ones ultimately have negative productivity. Hiring one is a terrible mistake for any organization; for a startup, it can be a catastrophic company-killer. So how can it happen so often?

Like many of the hangovers that haunt modern software engineering, this is ultimately mostly Microsoft’s fault.2 Back when they were the evil empire where everyone secretly wanted to work, they were famous for their “brain-teaser” interview questions – Why are manhole covers round? – and, of course, they asked new university graduates about computer science theory; “Write me a binary search.”

Everyone wanted to be like Microsoft, even Google, until everyone wanted to be like Google (until recently); and so that interview meme persisted. Check out these two recent posts on the subject of interviewing, courtsey of Hacker News: one from a would-be employee, onefrom a Google interviewer. A couple of illuminating quotes from the latter: “I’m not even necessarily saying that this is a good metric” and “If it’s any consolation, at least we don’t ask gotcha riddle questions anymore. Those were especially offensive.”

It’s nice to see that Google have almost sort of realized that their recruiting algorithm is problematic. Too bad they haven’t fixed it. See also Jean Hsu’s “How Effective Are Technical Interviews?” The fundamental problem is that the skills required to pass today’s industry-standard software interview are not the skills required to be a good software developer. Oh, there’s some correlation, but it’s like the Oakland Raiders always drafting the fastest runners available, only to discover to their endless dismay that the NFL is not a foot race.

Actually it’s worse than that. At least wide receivers have to run, whereas I can guarantee you, without fear of contradiction, that no software engineer will ever have to write a binary search after they are hired. It’s like choosing a contractor because they know how to forge and cast steel using coal, iron, an oven and a bellows, when they actually need to know a) the address of the nearest Home Depot b) what to do with the steel once they buy it.

Joel Spolsky once correctly explained that you’re generally looking for two things in an employee: Smart and Gets Things Done. (Academia is teeming with people who are the former but not the latter.) First, though, you have to establish something else: Not Completely Inept. You’d be amazed how many totally incompetent people show up for technical interviews. Google’s binary search is presumably intended as their “FizzBuzz” – a low bar you have to hurdle just to get in the door. But a FizzBuzz should take all of five minutes, before the real interview begins.

So what should a real interview consist of? Let me offer a humble proposal: don’t interview anyone who hasn’t accomplished anything. Ever. Certificates and degrees are not accomplishments; I mean real-world projects with real-world users. There is no excuse for software developers who don’t have a site, app, or service they can point to and say, “I did this, all by myself!” in a world where Google App Engine and Amazon Web Services have free service tiers, and it costs all of $25 to register as an Android developer and publish an app on the Android Market.

The old system was based on limited information—all you knew about someone was their resume. But if you only interview people with accomplishments, then you have a much broader base to work from. Get the FizzBuzz out of the way, and then have the interviewee show and tell their code, and explain their design decisions and what they would do differently now. Have them implement a feature or two while you watch, so you can see how they actually work, and how they think while working. That’s what you want from a technical interview, not a measure of its subject’s grasp of some antiquated algorithm or data structure. The world has moved on.

1Yes, I am being deliberately sexist here, because in my experience those women who write code are consistently good at it.

2I don’t mind that Bill Gates is a megazillionaire; he’s done a lot of really interesting and innovative stuff. I do mind that a lot of unworthy people rode his coattails to minizillionaire status, eg the inventor of Hungarian notation, probably the dumbest widely-promulgated idea in the history of the field.