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Invisible Business

The Days of Invisible Small Business May Soon Be Over

In Technology
Very Small Business

A week ago today, a small business in my community called ‘Costume Capers’ closed its doors after 30 years of continuous operation in the coastal hamlet of San Luis Obispo. When the local Tribune asked partner-proprietors Debi and Keith why they were throwing in the towel, their answer came without equivocation: enterprise business moved into their market and internet shopping made them feel like it was impossible to compete. Their customers slowly drifted away and their revenue stream simply dried up. Costume Capers was in the category of VSB or “Very Small Business,” that massive crosscut of ventures with fewer than five employees that constitute 85% of all businesses in the Western world.  Like 61% of all VSBs, they were well established in their community (3- years-old is the typical success marker) and were women-led, like more than half of all business around the world.  And like most small businesses […]

Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Work

Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Work

15th July 2015

Artificial Intelligence has been the topic de jour lately with every corner of intellectual thought sounding in on the perils, and the potential rewards, of synthesizing a machine intelligence that could successfully perform any intellectual task that a human can.  Elon Musk, Bill Gates and even Stephen Hawking have all suggested that an AI with this sort of general intelligence (also known as Strong AI or Full AI) could bring about an apocalypse that sees an end to human civilization, or even an end to the human race. There’s no doubt that Strong AI is the subject of intense research by DARPA, MIT, Berkeley, IBM, Google and many others.  But it’s hard not to notice that despite all the anxiety, Strong AI today lives only in the imagination of science fiction writers and in the hopes and dreams of research scientist.  At the prestigious “Future of AI” conference in San […]

Digital Privacy

Your Digital Privacy Is Under Attack, Again

2nd July 2015

It’s hard to pick up a paper, or an iPad, without reading about some bit of privacy that Americans have lost—or given up—in exchange for one convenience or another. It’s rare however that such an egregious attack on our privacy, like the one underway against every website owner in the world today and in the future, can march forward so quietly and without contest. The battlefront is inside ICANN (the global body that regulates website domain names) and a powerful group of intellectual property lobbyists who are pushing for new rules that attack the very heart of digital privacy rights on the Web. Here’s the issue. Historically, individuals and businesses who register a domain name can use privacy services that keep their personal information confidential. The private details needed to register a site, including home addresses and phone numbers, are currently held in confidence with the domain provider and only […]

Who vs what

“Who” You Are Always Trumps “What” You Are

15th June 2015

…but you shouldn’t wait ’til the end to find that out.Yesterday morning I delivered the commencement keynote for Cal Poly’s class of 2015 engineers.  Beyond simply being a privilege and an honor to talk to this group, it’s also a pretty huge responsibility – and I wanted to leave them with some bit of wisdom that was as far from trivial as I could manifest.  Life is short and we only get one chance to get it right.  Here were my thoughts on how we’ll be remembered: Like many commencement speakers before me, I toiled over what pithy message to deliver that might ring true as you enter this next phase of your life.  You see, as a graduation commencement speaker, one is supposed to impart some few nuggets of wisdom that will cause the collective “you” to reflect on your own personal road ahead.  My job today is to […]

Six Bits of Wisdom For the Aspiring Entrepreneur

14th April 2015

This week, Fortune Magazine (as part of their Leadership Insider network series) asked me “What advice would you give someone looking to start their own business?”  You can read the edited version here, but as it happens, I had a bit more to say on the subject than Fortune’s format would allow.  I’ve posted my full length response below: The dream of starting your own business, of being your own boss and becoming financially independent is more within reach today than at any other time in history.  Today, many businesses can get started with little to no capital thanks to the Internet and thrive without outside investment.  Business are seeing  barriers to entry crumble—from product differentiation, distribution and access to analytics—as new low cost cloud-based services emerge. Yet, even with risks lower than ever and rewards closer in sight, the idea of starting a business of your own is a daunting […]