Uber’s legacy hangs in the balance: Digital robber baron or respectable innovator?

Uber, the leading ridesharing company, has earned the distinction of becoming one of the most hated companies in the technology industry. One of its executives, Emil Michael, recently suggested to a large dinner gathering that his company should allocate $1 million to dig up dirt on reporters who were criticizing it. Last month, it tried to entice riders in Lyon, France, with ads pitching free pickups from...

Why baby boomers are an important part of technology’s future

Steve Jobs was 52 when he announced the iPhone. That was in 2007. Years later, the Apple co-founder introduced the MacBook Air, App Store and iPad. Tim Cook, who was 51 when he took over from Jobs, is building on his legacy. They both shattered a myth that the young rule the technology industry. Silicon Valley’s venture capitalists, however, speak openly of their bias toward the young. “People under 35 are...

Silicon Valley must join the Ebola battle before it becomes a matter of survival

Mark Zuckerberg recently announced a donation of $25 million to the Centers for Disease Control Foundationto help fight Ebola.  He noted that the Ebola epidemic has infected 8,400 people so far and could infect one million people or more if not addressed immediately. Zuckerberg’s involvement is an important step forward for the technology industry, and with a bit of luck, this disaster will be averted. But...

Silly Apps Aren’t the Future of Tech

The contenders in the 2014 TechCrunch Disrupt included a startup that seeks to change the way in which diseases are diagnosed, a medical-grade health scanner, a platform to connect innovators with scientists and a suite of business-intelligence tools for conservation and drought planning. Sadly, the winner was a simple app for the elite: Alfred Club. This allows you to hire someone to do everyday chores such...

MSNBC: Why women entrepreneurs are the future of tech

The world has many problems to solve. Billions live without reliable energy and lack adequate access to water, healthcare, and education. More people die from lack of clean water than from war. Our food system, the primary source of income for billions, must grow to meet the needs of another two billion people. Poverty is endemic. These are some of humanity’s grand challenges. The good news is that solutions...

It’s a beautiful time to be alive and educated

This is a commencement address I gave at Hult International Business School August 22, 2014. I grew up watching Star Trek and believing that by the time I became an adult we would all be using communicators, replicators, tricorders, and transporters. I was optimistic that the world would be a much better place: that we would have solved humanity’s problems and be exploring new worlds. That’s why my first...

Washington Post: Why teaching grandmothers to code isn’t a crazy idea

American businesses are ageing, as is the country; and this is bad for the economy, say Ian Hathaway and Robert Litan, of The Brookings Institution. They report that the share of older firms, aged 16 years or more, has increased from 23 percent in 1992 to 34 percent in 2011. Startups have become a smaller proportion of the economy, going from 15 percent to 8 percent. This is worrisome because young companies...

Why we should believe the dreamers—not the experts

History is littered with the failed predictions of experts. Yet governments hire high-paid consultants to advise on policy; businesses use them to vet research and development projects; and venture capitalists have them make investment decisions.  Experts excel in looking backwards, protecting their turf, and saying what their clients want to hear. Their short-term predictions are sometimes right, but they...

Washington Post: Come on, Silicon Valley, you can do better than this

A new messaging app, called Yo, has created a sensation in Silicon Valley.  It is being hailed as the next big thing. The amazing breakthrough?  Sending the word “Yo” to a contact with just one click. This app received justifiable ridicule from Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert and many others.  But some technology industry moguls are taking it seriously.  Marc Andreessen wrote on Twitter that...

Washington Post: Chile teaches the world a lesson about innovation

Chile launched a grand innovation experiment in 2010: it paid foreign entrepreneurs to come and visit for six months. It offered them $40,000 plus free office space, Internet access, mentoring, and networking. And, by the way, they would get to live in one of the most beautiful places on this planet, where housing was relatively cheap and corruption and crime were almost nonexistent. All Chile asked in return...

Economic Times (India): The future of medicine lies in the use of information technology

In the TV series Star Trek, Captain Kirk has a handheld device called a tricorder that can immediately assess a patient’s condition and diagnose disease. This is 300 years in the future.In real life, technology is advancing so rapidly that within a decade, Kirk’s tricorder will look primitive. Just as our bathroom scales give us instant readings of our weight, our smartphone tricorders will monitor...

Here’s what it actually takes to make it as an entrepreneur

A young male who was born to be an entrepreneur drops out from a computer-science program at a prestigious university.  He meets a powerful venture capitalist who is so enamored with his idea that he gives him millions of dollars to build his technology.  Then comes the multi-billion-dollar IPO. That’s the Hollywood version of Silicon Valley.  But it is as far from reality as is Disneyland.  Entrepreneurship...