Softbank's Vision Fund: A 300-year vision with a case of myopia

This member-only article was unlocked for you by Kevin Kelleher. Unlock expires 1 day, 23 hours from now. For unlimited access to all of Pando, become a Pando member for just $10 a month. For decades, Silicon Valley venture capital has operated on the principle that bigger is not always better. The dot-com bust left seasoned VCs with scars that still serve as a reminder that simply throwing money into emerging technologies isn't enough – it's identifying, and nurturing, the promising startups that works best.

Japan Has a Radically Different Approach to AI

Thanks to artificial intelligence, the automobile — that most American of possessions — is being remade. Self-driving cars from Google’s new Waymo subsidiary will hit the streets next year. Tesla’s fully automated cars will arrive in 2018. Uber is testing its own self-driving fleet in Pittsburgh. More than a dozen other companies have AI-powered vehicles in the works. Conspicuously left out out from the self-driving car boom has been Japanese auto makers.

Traders Tell All: A Look at Three Traders' Daily Routines

While many investors prefer the relative ease of buying and holding securities for the long term, others have developed an appetite for more-active trading—a pursuit that can be as rewarding as it is risky. “The good news is that it’s possible to mitigate the downside,” says Kevin Horner, a senior manager with Schwab’s trading- education team, “but doing so consis- tently requires discipline and a plan.” Interviews with several Schwab clients who trade frequently bear that out.

Shape the Future: Q&A: Gavin Andresen, chief scientist, Bitcoin Foundation

2014 wasn’t a banner year for Bitcoin speculators—its price was down nearly 60%—but it has left the community of developers who support the digital currency more optimistic than ever. New applications, exchanges, products, and uses for the Bitcoin technology are emerging every week. Unlike large companies such as Apple or Tesla, Bitcoin developers operate as an open community—no organizational structure necessary.

Dropbox's prospectus offers encouragement to a weary IPO market

Dropbox is not only the largest IPO since Snap, it's the company likely to have the biggest influence on this year's IPO market. Despite the abrupt market correction two weeks ago, there's reason to expect that the public market the IPO will launch into will be more welcoming to a well-known tech company. New corporate tax cuts will leave companies with more capital for stock buybacks, while money exiting the bond market is looking for a safer place to invest.

What 3 Small Businesses Learned From Big Data

Business data has existed for ages. But mostly it just sat hopelessly trapped in handwritten ledgers, filing cabinets, and floppy disks, a precious resource untapped. Software from past decades helped only so much. Many such applications could work only with individual databases and were often costly and unwieldy to boot. Until very recently, such data could be used only by the giants. Now, thanks to falling tech costs and new tools that display complex databases in ways even technophobes could love...

Consider Myspace: What a comeback could look like

The Web does not love second acts. Inexperienced startups with a crazy idea can become overnight stars, but companies that found and then lost success are simply written off as irrelevant. Entrepreneurs can see their credentials strengthened by noble failures, but once a brand is labeled a failure, it's all but over. There have only been two successful Web turnarounds so far, and they both took several years to accomplish. So it's not surprising to see the attempt to turn around Myspace greeted

Let’s call ‘pivot to video’ what it really is: Desperation

At first, a pivot to video made sense. High bandwidth on mobile, mega-platforms like YouTube, and the promise of disrupting TV commercials made it alluring. This was compounded by steadily declining cost-per-click rates on text-centric content — not to mention the painful memories of what happened to newspapers that waited too long to move online. If all that left news sites feeling scared, Mark Zuckerberg terrified them. He kept saying things like video is a “mega-trend” like mobile.

Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft: With great scale comes great destructive powers

This member-only article was unlocked for you by Kevin Kelleher. Unlock expires 1 day, 23 hours from now. For unlimited access to all of Pando, become a Pando member for just $10 a month. Looking at the rich harvest of tech earnings last week, I couldn't help but think of “Scale,” a surreal story that Will Self wrote in 1995, the same year Amazon set up its online store. “Some people lose their sense of proportion; I've lost my sense of scale,” says the protagonist, a drug addict whose...

66,207,896 bottles of beer on the wall

When Dereck Gurden pulls up at one of his customers' stores -- 7-Eleven, Buy N Save, or one of dozens of liquor marts and restaurants in the 800-square-mile territory he covers in California's Central Valley -- managers usually stop what they're doing and grab a notepad. Toting his constant companion, a brick-size handheld PC, the 41-year-old father of three starts his routine. "First I'll scroll through and check the accounts receivable, make sure everything's current," he said.

The checkered past of Groupon's chairman

“Lets start having fun… lets get funky… let’s announce everything… let’s be WILDLY positive in our forecasts… lets take this thing to the extreme… if we get wacked [sic] on the ride down-who gives a shit… THE TIME TO GET RADICAL IS NOW… WE HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE…” This is a quote from the dot-com era. It’s pretty much what you’d expect a novice executive to say back then, when it was all about money and not at all about creating something good. It was written in an email by the co-founder of a co

Guiding the Golden Years: Helping Aging Parents Manage Their Finances

How to help the elderly in your life with financial planning, fraud prevention and more. “It’s a di cult conversation to have,” says Gary Wachs, vice president of Independent Branch Services Compliance at Schwab, “but our elderly clients and their children really need to understand all the nec- essary steps ahead of time, rather than a er the fact when they’re dealing with everything else.” Helping your parents get their nancial house in order—and keep it that way—can be an uncomfortable role reversal for both parties.

Artificial Intelligence Is Changing How You Shop Online

The writer William Gibson once said that the future is here, just not evenly distributed. That was the case with the World Wide Web 20 years ago, when some business models – notably e-commerce and new media – took off faster than others. Now a similar trend is happening with artificial intelligence, or AI. The promise of AI has seemingly been just on the horizon for years, with little evidence of change in the lives of most consumers.

Hubert Joly Brought Best Buy Back From the Brink

The first to fall under the Amazon steamroller were the bookstores. Then fell the music retailers like Tower Records, back when most people listened to music on CDs. Along the way, the big electronics chains began to find themselves struggling too. Doing business in one of Amazon’s core markets has long been a serious work hazard. One big retail chain has been holding its own in the age of Amazon. It’s not the Good Guys. It’s not CompUSA. It’s not Radio Shack. It's Best Buy.

Amazon closes Whole Foods acquisition. Here’s what’s next

Amazon closed its $13.7 billion purchase of Whole Foods Market today, kicking off a new chapter not only for these two players but for the entire retail industry. The companies, which outlined their plans in a joint statement last week, are wasting no time making changes that will affect their customers. Starting today, Whole Foods will offer lower prices on a range of produce, meat, and other staples, and Amazon will start upgrading the stores’ point-of-sales systems to offer its Prime members

Silicon Valley's Hot New Snack Was Born in a Prison

Every startup needs a good creation myth. Not many can match Seth Sundberg’s story about his company’s founding. Sundberg left college early, not to write code but to play pro basketball. In time, he transitioned to real estate, managing a mortgage office in the Bay Area. The big setback came in 2009, less from the housing crisis and more from a fraudulent $5 million tax refund, which led to five years in a federal prison. In a matter of months, Sundberg went from the comfortable life inside a

Starlight Express

Nanotech's promise is out of this world. Just ask Brad Edwards, who's planning to build a carbon-nanotube elevator that goes 62,000 miles straight up. Of all the revolutionary technologies just ahead, nanotechnology seems the most outlandish. Machines the size of molecules made from materials stronger than titanium, self-assembling computers smaller than bread crumbs: We've heard the hype about such microscopic marvels for a decade, but it's still kinda hard to believe.

The gold rush days of bitcoin mining are over, and not because of the price

For all the volatility in bitcoin pricing, 2014 may be looked back on as a year when bitcoin began to move past the proof-of-concept stage and toward a mainstream market. Some 6.6 million bitcoin wallets have been set up so far this year, according to Coindesk, a fivefold increase over 2013. And 75,000 merchants now accept the digital currency, including giants like Dell, Expedia and Overstock. But one area of the bitcoin economy is maturing much faster than the others....

Amazon's new strategy: Web services

Even for someone as optimistic as Jeff Bezos, 2006 is turning out to be a hellish year. The founder and e-commerce pioneer saw his second-quarter profit plunge 58 percent, due largely to increased competition. For the year as a whole, earnings are expected to be cut in half. And one of the worst reports in Amazon's short history, released in August by Caris analyst Tim Boyd, said the Seattle business offered "nothing truly unique." But as in 1997, Bezos has a plan.
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