Tag Archives: startups

News From Backchannel

We’re now officially and totally integrated into Wired. But we won’t be gone.

Dear Backchannel readers,

Steven here. First, the news: Starting with the new year, Backchannel will be fully integrated into WIRED. While this means that there won’t be a weekly drop of Backchannel stories and columns — and we won’t be producing them from solely within a five-person unit — you’ll be still seeing those stories and reading the same writers who produced them when you visit the WIRED site. In fact, Backchannel will live on in the form of a new section on wired.com, which will launch in the coming weeks. More on that to come.

In the meantime, you will still be able to read stories from Jessi Hempel and me … Read the rest

Backchannel Is Moving to Wired

Starting mid-June, we’ll publish even more of the work you care about in a new weekly format.

(Illustration by Laurent Hrybyk)

Dear Backchannel readers,

Last summer, Backchannel joined Condé Nast as part of the Wired Media Group. For all of the reasons you imagine, it made sense. Though we have our own distinct personality, we’re a lot like Wired. In fact, Steven and Jessi both hail from Wired. And like the editors there, we have a deep conviction that accurately reported news presented with context is a critical tool for understanding the future.

And now, a year later, we’re closing the circle. Backchannel is joining forces with our sister publication. Starting June 21, we will begin publishing Backchannel as a weekly digital magazine on … Read the rest

The Queen of the Internet Surveys Her Kingdom

Everything is looking up, according to Mary Meeker, even if global smartphone growth is trending down.

(Bloomberg / Getty Images)

Hi Backchannel readers, it’s Jessi.

On Wednesday, Kleiner Perkins investor Mary Meeker delivered her annual internet trends report at Code Conference, the annual south-of-Los Angeles gathering that feels as much like a summer camp reunion as a tech confab. Meeker always presents early in the morning of the second day. To tech newbies, her presentation must seem like one of the strangest rituals in the industry — a core dump of stats, charts, and headlines, dense with exotic acronyms and hockey-stick curves. But it’s ambrosia to tech business insiders. At Code, attendees tend to meander in and out of sessions depending on the popularity of the … Read the rest

Sheryl Sandberg’s Accidental Revolution

How Sandberg’s grief became the catalyst for a new, emotionally honest management style at Facebook and beyond.

Sheryl Sandberg’s husband died of a heart arrhythmia on a Friday evening. They’d been vacationing in Mexico, and from the moment she saw him on the resort’s gym floor, a life built on relentless order — in the workplace, in the home, and especially in balancing the two — was thrust into terrifying chaos. She flew home and broke the news to her two young children. She listened to Bono perform “One” in front of 1,700 people crammed into the Stanford Memorial Auditorium for a memorial. She spent seven days welcoming friends for the traditional Jewish shiva, accepting food she mostly didn’t eat.

Then, on the following Monday, Sandberg … Read the rest

Where Weird Facebook is King: How a College Kid Does Social

The former viral “actual teen” updates his views on Facebook, Snapchat, and the rest.

On January 2, 2015, I wrote a viral post entitled “A Teenager’s View on Social Media,” in which I dissected popular apps and what I thought about them. It got over one million views. Many people have asked me to write a follow-up or, at the very least, an update. I haven’t felt there was a dramatic enough shift to warrant a new post…until now.

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I will start this post off with transparency, since it influences my view of the landscape. I am a 21-year-old male attending The University of Texas at Austin. I am heavily invested in social media and I try out all … Read the rest

How the Tech Press Forces a Narrative on Companies it Covers

What’s Your Hour in ‘Silicon Valley Time’?

The tech press moves like clockwork, fitting company narratives into a predictable arc. Here’s how pros deal with it.

I don’t remember who told me company narratives were like a clock. I was at Google, where I’d taken a job on the communications team despite zero experience in communications. During my early days there, I tried to navigate my new profession by listening to the many comms experts already at the company from whom I would learn so much. One theory about narratives stuck with me:

A company’s narrative moves like a clock: it starts at midnight, ticking off the hours. The tone and sentiment about how a business is doing move from positive (sunrise, midday) to negative (dusk, Read the rest

How Companies Can Avoid the Innovator’s Dilemma

Graphic courtesy Gaping Void.

Innovating at Scale: The Companies That Don't Let Size Slow Them Down

Nothing lasts forever — not even unicorns. But some unicorns live long lives.

The life cycle of consumer products is depressingly predictable. A product becomes a hit because it resonates with a generation. And as time goes on, that generation matures and is inevitably replaced by a fresh set of customers with distinct tastes and perspectives. The product, a victim of its own success, eventually hits a ceiling.

In technology, the cycle is on constant repeat. Once a consumer product starts to gain a large audience — it risks disruption from another new solution, one that ups the innovation ante. These usurpers then grow and are themselves eventually displaced. That’s … Read the rest

Three Phases of Consumer Products

The Three Phases of Consumer Products

First you want it. Then you need it. Then everybody can’t live without it — like a utility.

Right now Facebook’s developer conference, F8, is underway, and it is massive. But I’m thinking back to the early days of the company. Facebook was the first company (as far as the Internet knows) to create a growth team. There’s no argument that its team has been effective at helping get sustainable user growth. What people forget is that before focusing on growth, Facebook reached what Marc Andreessen calls product market fit. Product market fit is, “being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market.”

Yet today there’s an endless stream of great content in … Read the rest

A Self-Driving Car Might Decide You Should Die

An Autonomous Car Might Decide You Should Die

But that prospect isn’t as scary as it sounds

The “trolley problem” is an old, familiar thought experiment in ethics. Lately it has been enjoying a rather outlandish level of exposure. Much of the credit goes to journalists applying the problem to autonomous cars. Those discussions end up feeling remote and theoretical. Yet by revising the problem just slightly, it can contribute to both a realistic and urgent debate on self-driving cars… which is precisely what I’m fixin’ to do in this article.

Google Trend for “trolley problem”. Apparently the holiday season makes people really, really philosophical.

First, let’s make sure everyone is on the same page. What follows is one iteration of the original trolley problem:

Version Read the rest