Month: December 2018

Tencent left out as China approves the release of 80 new video games

Chinese internet giant Tencent has been excluded from the first batch of video game license approvals issued by the state-run government since March.

China regulators approved Saturday the released of 80 online video games after a months-long freeze, Reuters first reported. None of the approved titles listed on the approval list were from Tencent Holdings, the world’s largest gaming company.

Licenses are usually granted on a first come, first serve basis in order of when studios file their applications, several game developers told TechCrunch. There are at least 7,000 titles in the waiting list, among which only 3,000 may receive the official licenses in 2019, China’s 21st Century Business Herald reported citing experts. Given the small chance of making it to the first batch, it’s unsurprising the country’s two largest game publishers Tencent and NetEase were absent.

The controlled and gradual unfreezing process is in line with a senior official’s announcement on December 21. While the Chinese gaming regulator is trying its best to greenlight titles as soon as possible, there is a huge number of applications in the pipeline, the official said. Without licenses, studios cannot legally monetize their titles in China. The hiatus in approval has slashed earnings in the world’s largest gaming market, which posted a 5.4 percent year-over-year growth in the first half of 2018, the slowest rate in the last ten years according to a report by Beijing-based research firm GPC and China’s official gaming association CNG.

Tencent is best known as the company behind WeChat, a popular messaging platform in China. But much of its revenue comes from gaming. Even with a recent decline in gaming revenue, the company has a thriving business that is majority owner of several companies including Activision, Grinding Gears Games, Riot and Supercell. In 2012, the company took a 40 percent stake in Epic Games, maker of Fortnite. Tencent also has alliances or publishing deals with other video gaming companies such as Square Enix, makers of Tomb Raider. 

The ban on new video game titles in China has affected Tencent’s bottom line. The company reported revenue from gaming fell 4 percent in the third quarter due to the prolonged freeze on licenses. At the time, Tencent claimed it had 15 games with monetization approval in its pipeline. To combat pressure in its consumer-facing gaming business, the Chinese giant launched a major reorganization in October to focus more on enterprise-related initiatives such as cloud services and maps. Founder and CEO Pony Ma said at the time the strategic repositioning would prepare Tencent for the next 20 years of operation.

“In the second stage, we aspire to enable our partners in different industries to better connect with consumers via an expanding, open and connected ecosystem,” stated Ma.

China tightened restrictions in 2018 to combat games that are deemed illegal, immoral, low-quality or have a negative social impact such as those that make children addicted or near-sighted. This means studios, regardless of size, need to weigh new guidelines in their production and user interaction. Tencent placed its own restrictions on gaming in what appeared to be an attempt to assuage regulators. The company has expanded its age verification system, an effort aimed at curbing use of young players, and placed limits on daily play.

Update (December 30, 10:00 am, GMT+8): Adds context on China’s gaming industry and Tencent.

No, Netflix isn’t making fake teen accounts to spread ‘Bird Box’ memes

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Even in a year that gave us peak Q Anon, this may be the most 2018 conspiracy theory ever. There are people online who believe Netflix used bot accounts to spread viral memes about its record hit movie Bird Box

The over-the-top apocalyptic thriller, which features a family making the perilous journey down a river in hopes of finding a community safe from invisible monsters that have taken over the world, is ripe with meme potential. The monsters inexplicably make victims commit suicide, which plays perfectly into the younger generation’s grimdark sense of humor.

More about Memes, Netflix, Bird Box, Culture, and Web Culture

Alibaba-backed Hellobike bags new funds as it marches into ride-hailing

2018 has been a rough year for China’s bike-sharing giants. Alibaba-backed Ofo pulled out of dozens of international cities as it fought with a severe cash crunch. Tencent-backed Mobike puts a brake on expansion after it was sold to neighborhood services provider Meituan Dianping. But one newcomer is pedaling against the wind.

Hellobike, currently the country’s third-largest bike-sharing app according to Analysys data, announced this week that it raised “billions of yuan” ($1 = 6.88 yuan) in a new round. The company declined to reveal details on the funding amount and use of the proceeds when inquired by TechCrunch.

Leading the round were Ant Financial, the financial affiliate of Alibaba and maker behind digital wallet Alipay, and Primavera Capital, a Chinese investment firm that’s backed other mobility startups including electric automaker Xpeng and car trading platform Souche. The fledgling startup also got SoftBank interested in shelling out an investment, The Information reported in November. The fresh capital arrived about a year after it secured $350 million from investors including Ant Financial.

As China’s bicycle giants burn through billions of dollars to tout subsidized rides, they’ve gotten caught up in financial troubles. Ten months after Ofo raised $866 million, the startup is reportedly mulling bankruptcy. Meanwhile, Mobike is downsizing its fleet to “avoid an oversupply,” a Meituan executive recently said.

It’s interesting to note that while both Ofo and Hellobike fall under the Alibaba camp, they began with different geographic targets. By May, only 5 percent of Hellobike’s users were in China’s Tier 1 cities, while that ratio was over 30 percent for both Mobike and Ofo, a report by Trustdata shows.

This small-town strategy gives Hellobike an edge. As the bike-sharing markets in China’s major cities become crowded, operators began turning to lower-tier cities in 2017, a report from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology points out.

The new contender is still dwarfed by its larger competitors in terms of user number. Ofo and Mobike command 43 million and 38 million unique monthly mobile installs, respectively, while Hellobike stands at 8 million, accroding to iResearch.

Hellobike’s ambition doesn’t stop at two-wheelers. In September, it rebranded its Chinese name to HelloTransTech to signify an extension into other transportation means. Aside from bikes, the startup also offers shared electric bikes, ride-hailing and carpooling, a category that became much contested following high-profile passenger murders on Didi Chuxing .

In May and August, two female customers were killed separately when they used the Hitch service on Didi, China’s biggest ride-hailing platform that took over Uber’s China business. The incidents sparked a huge public and regulatory backlash, forcing Didi to suspend its carpooling service up to this day. But this week, its newly minted rival Hellobike decides to forge ahead with a campaign to recruit carpooling drivers. Time will tell whether the latecomer can grapple with heightened security measures and fading customer confidence in riding with strangers.

‘Black Mirror: Bandersnatch’ doesn’t work on Apple TV and users are furious

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It may be a groundbreaking high-tech piece of TV entertainment, but the interactive Black Mirror movie Bandersnatch is off limits if you happen to be using the highest-rated high-tech TV setup.

That would be the Apple TV, the 4K model of which we recently rated not only the most essential set-top box but also the most ahead-of-the-pack product Apple currently makes. (Many users agreed.) 

Bandersnatch is also unavailable on Google’s Chromecast and Amazon’s Fire Stick. Try to watch it on these platforms and what you’ll get instead of the two-plus hour storyline is a 2-minute supercut of Black Mirror characters from other episodes saying “sorry.” And if you thought you could stream it from other devices to these set-top boxes: Sorry, that won’t work either.  Read more…

More about Netflix, Apple Tv, Google Chromecast, Apple Tv 4k, and Tech

How to Take Care of Your Garden in Winter

Don’t let the winter ruin the beauty of your garden. Take care of it using the tips you can read in the following section. Maintaining your garden in this cold season, after all, can also prepare it for when spring and summer come.

So, if you’re ready, let’s begin highlighting the things you can do to maintain your winter garden.

Removing spent plants

Cleaning up finished and rotting plants is one of the best ways to keep your garden healthy in the winter. Removing old plants will not only tidy it up but also prevent the spread of fungi, pests, and diseases.

Getting rid of spent plants and then burying those disease-free finished plants can prevent most garden pests from spreading when the spring comes. In addition, burying them will also improve soil health as they can add organic matter to it.

Pruning in winter

Pruning helps remove dead plant in order to promote the growth of larger shoots for the coming growth season.

When pruning shrubs and flowering trees, you must prune the autumn and summer flowering shrubs and trees in the early spring and late winter. You must also prune those when their flowers started fading.

Also, you should be pruning deciduous plants for their spring re-growth because many of them are inactive or dormant in the winter. And as the foliage of the plants is gone, it is easier and faster to see their shape.

For best results, keep the following in mind:

  • You should first prune out diseased or dead branches.
  • You must also consider pruning on a dry day.
  • In order to increase both the air and the light at a tree’s crown, you should remove smaller and overgrown branches.
  • Also, don’t remove the branches that keep the tree’s structure and that are developing.
  • You should also cut branches at the part wherein a twig or branch is attaching to another.

Planting bulbs

This winter, you should also learn how to divide and plant bulbs.

Bulbs, including daffodils and tulips, should be planted early in the winter because they require much time before blooming in the spring. These bulbs also need cool temperatures which can speed up their flowering.

For fall-planted bulbs, you should soak them in warm water for 12 hours before planting them, especially for tunicate-type bulbs that have teardrop-shaped or enclosed, round bulbs. However, this method is not suitable for lilies and other bulbs with fleshy scales.

By soaking them, the bulbs will absorb enough water to grow fast, saving you three weeks of time, especially if you’re in a northern climate location. Divide and then fertilize the bulbs to promote their blooming.

For bulbs that have few or no flowers, you might want to divide or fertilize them first. You can also consider using slow-release bulb fertilizers to keep its effectiveness in the early spring.

Planning Ahead

Use these tips to prepare your garden for the next gardening season. These tips will improve your yields in the end aside from helping you keep a lovely garden in the spring and the summer.

The post How to Take Care of Your Garden in Winter appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

If only this ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ and ‘Law and Order: SVU’ crossover were true

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After a mild cancellation scare, a sixth season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine is returning in 2019.

The sitcom now has a new home on NBC, where resides another long-running (but more serious) police show in Law and Order: SVU

Given they’re neighbors now, NBC put together a trailer which marries the two series, which now makes us want a crossover to be a real thing.

While the two shows would likely be an awkward fit together, fans found the crossover potential to be tantalizing.

Doesn’t even have to be a full crossover episode. Amy and Rosa go to a Benson seminar for empowering Policewomen.

— Name Cannot Be Left Blank (@methatkindaorc) December 27, 2018 Read more…

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Indonesia unblocks Tumblr following its ban on adult content

Indonesia, the world’s fourth largest country by population, has unblocked Tumblr nine months after it blocked the social networking site over pornographic content.

Tumblr — which, disclaimer, is owned by Oath Verizon Media Group just like TechCrunch — announced earlier this month that it would remove all “adult content” from its platform. That decision, which angered many in the adult entertainment industry who valued the platform as an increasingly rare outlet that supported erotica, was a response to Apple removing Tumblr’s app from the iOS Store after child pornography was found within the service.

This impact of this new policy has made its way to Indonesia where KrAsia reports that the service was unblocked earlier this week. The service had been blocked in March after falling foul of the country’s anti-pornography laws.

“Tumblr sent an official statement regarding the commitment to clean the platform from pornographic content,” Ferdinandus Setu, Acting Head of the Ministry of Communication and Informatics Bureau, is reported to have said in a press statement.

Messaging apps WhatsApp and Line are among the other services that have been forced to comply with the government’s ban on ‘unsuitable’ content in order to keep their services open in the country. Telegram, meanwhile, removed suspected terrorist content last year after its service was partially blocked.

While perhaps not widely acknowledged in the West, Indonesia is a huge market with a population of over 260 million people. The world’s largest Muslim country, it is the largest economy in Southeast Asia and its growth is tipped to help tripled the region’s digital economy to $240 billion by 2025.

In other words, Indonesia is a huge market for internet companies.

The country’s anti-porn laws have been used to block as many as 800,000 websites as of 2017so potentially over a million by now — but they have also been used to take aim at gay dating apps, some of which have been removed from the Google Play Store. As Vice notes, “while homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia, it’s no secret that the country has become a hostile place for the LGBTQ community.”

Leesa’s Boxing Day mattress sale can help you beat the post-Christmas blues

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Christmas is over folks. Time to take down the decorations, put away the tree, and stop with the Christmas songs.

Boxing Day might seem like another reason to celebrate, but it’s not. It’s the saddest day of the year and we won’t be persuaded otherwise. All the weeks of build up and preparation for Christmas Day come crashing down and we are left with nothing but a hangover and half eaten mince pies.

In much cheerier news, Leesa has launched its Boxing Day sale with 20% off everything with the code BOXINGDAY. The prospect of saving on award-winning multi-layer foam mattresses and a whole host of other sleepy accessories should be able to turn around even the bluest of post-Christmas blues. Read more…

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Two years later, I still miss the headphone port

Two years ago, Apple killed the headphone port. I still haven’t forgiven them for it.

When Apple announced that the iPhone 7 would have no headphone port, I was pretty immediately annoyed. I figured maybe I’d get over it in a few months. I didn’t. I figured if worse came to worse, I’d switch platforms. Then all of the other manufacturers started following suit.

This, of course, isn’t a new annoyance for me. I’ve been hating headphone adapters on phones right here on this very website since two thousand and nine. For a little stretch there, though, I got my way.

It was a world full of dongles and crappy proprietary audio ports. Sony Ericsson had the FastPort. Nokia had the Pop-Port. Samsung had like 10 different ports that no one gave a shit about. No single phone maker had claimed the throne yet, so no one port had really become ubiquitous… but every manufacturer wanted their port to become the port. Even the phones that had a standardized audio jack mostly had the smaller 2.5mm port, requiring an adapter all the same.

Then came the original iPhone with its 3.5mm headphone port. It was a weird recessed 3.5mm port that didn’t work with most headphones, but it was a 3.5mm port! Apple was riding on the success of the iPod, and people were referring to this rumored device as the iPod Phone before it was even announced. How could something like that not have a headphone port?

Sales of the iPhone started to climb. A few million in 2007. Nearly 12 million in 2008. 20 million in 2009. A tide shifted. As Apple’s little slab of glass took over the smartphone world, other manufacturers tried to figure out what Apple was doing so right. The smartphone market, once filled with chunky, button-covered plastic beasts (this one slides! This one spins!), homogenized. Release by release, everything started looking more like the iPhone. A slab of glass. Premium materials. Minimal physical buttons. And, of course, a headphone port.

Within a couple years, a standard headphone port wasn’t just a nice selling point — it was mandatory. We’d entered a wonderful age of being able to use your wired headphones whenever you damn well pleased.

Then came September 7th, 2016, when Apple had the “courage” to announce it was ditching the 3.5mm jack (oh and also by the way check out these new $150 wireless headphones!).

Apple wasn’t the first to ditch the headphone port — but, just as with its decision to include one, its decision to remove it has turned the tide. A few months after the portless iPhone 7 was announced, Xiaomi nixed the port on the Mi 6. Then Google ditched it from its flagship Android phone, the Pixel 3. Even Samsung, which lampooned Apple for the decision, seems to be tinkering with the idea of dropping it. Though leaks suggest the upcoming Galaxy S10 will have a headphone port, the company pulled it from the mid-range A8 line earlier this year. If 2016 was the year Apple took a stab at the headphone jack, 2018 was the year it bled out.

And I’m still mad about it.

Technology comes and goes, and oh-so-often at Apple’s doing. Ditching the CD drive in laptops? That’s okay — CDs were doomed, and they were pretty awful to begin with. Killing Flash? Flash sucked. Switching one type of USB port for another? Fine, I suppose. The new USB is better in just about every way. At the very least, I won’t try to plug it in upside down only to flip it over and realize I had it right the first time.

But the headphone jack? It was fine. It stood the test of time for one hundred damned years, and with good reason: It. Just. Worked.

I’ve been trying to figure out why the removal of the headphone port bugs me more than other ports that have been unceremoniously killed off, and I think it’s because the headphone port almost always only made me happy. Using the headphone port meant listening to my favorite album, or using a free minute to catch the latest episode of a show, or passing an earbud to a friend to share some new tune. It enabled happy moments and never got in the way.

Now every time I want to use my headphones, I just find myself annoyed.

Bluetooth? Whoops, forgot to charge them. Or whoops, they’re trying to pair with my laptop even though my laptop is turned off and in my backpack.

Dongle? Whoops, left it on my other pair of headphones at work. Or whoops, it fell off somewhere, and now I’ve got to go buy another one.

I’ll just buy a bunch of dongles, and put them on all my headphones! I’ll keep extras in my bag for when I need to borrow a pair of headphones. That’s just like five dongles at this point, problem solved! Oh, wait: now I want to listen to music while I fall asleep, but also charge my phone so it’s not dead in the morning. That’s a different, more expensive splitter dongle (many of which, I’ve found, are poorly made garbage).

None of these are that big of a deal. Charge your damned headphones, Greg. Stop losing your dongles. The thing is: they took a thing that just worked and just made me happy and replaced it with something that, quite often, just bugs the hell out of me. If a friend sent me a YouTube link and I wanted to watch it without bugging everyone around me, I could just use whatever crappy, worn out headphones I happened to have sitting in my bag. Now it’s a process with a bunch of potential points of failure.

“But now its water resistant!” Water-resistant phones existed before all of this, plenty of which had/have headphone ports. As a recent example, see Samsung’s Galaxy S9 with its IP68 rating (matching that of the iPhone XS.)

“But it can be slimmer!” No one was asking for that.

“But the batteries inside can be bigger!” The capacity of the battery barely jumped in the years from the 6S to the 8 — from 1,715mAh to 1,821mAh. It wasn’t until a few years later with the iPhone X, when the standard iPhone started getting wider and taller, that we saw super big jumps in its battery capacity.

Will this post change anything? Of course not. Apple blew the horn that told the industry it’s okay to drop the headphone port, and everyone fell right in line. The next year — and the year after that — Apple sold another 200M-plus phones. At this point, Apple doesn’t even bother giving you the headphone adapter in the box. Apple’s mind is made up.

But if you’re out there, annoyed, stumbling across this post after finding yourself with a pair of headphones and a smartphone that won’t play friendly together in a pinch, just know: you’re not the only one. Two years later, I’m still mad at whoever made this call — and everyone else in the industry who followed suit.

Tesla shares fall 7.6% following price cuts in China and Elon Musk’s promise to reimburse missed tax credits

Monday was a tough day for the U.S. stock market, but Tesla shares were hit especially hard. The stock fell by 7.6 percent after Tesla cut the Model 3’s price in China and CEO Elon Musk promised to reimburse U.S. customers if they miss a tax credit deadline due to Model 3 shipment delays.

Reuters reported this weekend that the Model 3’s prices on Tesla’s China website had been reduced by up to 7.6 percent, with the starting price now at 499,000 RMB (about $72,000). This is the third time since November that Tesla has lowered the price of its vehicles in China.

The first was in November, when it slashed the price of Model X and Model S vehicles by 12 to 26 percent, stating that it was “absorbing a significant part of the tariff to help make cars more affordable for customers in China.” Then this month, Tesla cut Model X and Model S prices again, citing China’s decision to temporarily suspend a new 25 percent tariff on American-produced vehicles and auto parts as the two countries reached a ceasefire in the trade war.

In October, Tesla announced on its site that if U.S. customers needed to order a Model S, Model X, or Model 3 before October 15 if they wanted the full $7,500 federal tax credit, which begins to phase out once a manufacturer sells 200,000 qualifying vehicles in the U.S. (Tesla hit that milestone earlier this year). As a result, the federal tax vehicle will be cut 50 percent to $3,750 for vehicles delivered January 1 to June 30, 2019, before behing halved again on July 1.

On Sunday, Musk tweeted in response to a question that if a customer’s pre-December order isn’t delivered before the end of the year, Tesla will reimburse the tax credits they missed out on.

If Tesla committed delivery & customer made good faith efforts to receive before year end, Tesla will cover the tax credit difference

Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 22, 2018

After months of production and delivery delays, Tesla ramped up fulfillment of Model 3 orders in the third quarter of this year, when it delivered a total of 83,500 vehicles, including 55,840 Model 3 units.

People are tweeting surprise holiday visits, and they’re just heartwarming

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They begin in a similar way: Someone sneaks down a hallway, stealthily opens a door, quietly comes down stairs. Then everyone starts screaming and hugging and someone almost always cries. 

Over the past few days, people have been tweeting videos recorded as they surprise their loved ones who didn’t expect them to be home for the holidays. The reveals have become so prevalent that Twitter made a moment to mark the trend

Watch a selection of the surprise videos below and let them warm your heart. 

It’s safe to say my family was surprised! I am beyond blessed to be able to come home for Christmas when some of us can’t. ❤️

Peep my dad’s face in the background 😂 pic.twitter.com/YQRrrgSBBv

— Brooke (@BrookeMoeder) December 23, 2018 Read more…

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Gal Gadot finishes filming on ‘Wonder Woman’ sequel, posts heartwarming message

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Shortly after news that Wonder Woman 1984’s release date has been pushed back, Gal Gadot has wrapped on the sequel.

The star of the series announced on Instagram that she had finished up filming on Sunday, coupled with a few shots from the set. The film had been shooting since June.

“We did it. Again!!” Gadot wrote on Instagram. 

“And as much as the first time shooting Wonder Woman was amazing, this time was even more unique and special.. We shot in 4 very different locations in 3 countries, and I’m so soooo proud of the almost 1000 crew members who came to set every day, giving everything they have into our movie.” Read more…

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12 key lessons about tech mergers and acquisitions from Cisco’s John Chambers

Cyril Ebersweiler
Contributor

Cyril Ebersweiler is co-founder and managing partner of HAX, and a general partner at SOSV.
Benjamin Joffe
Contributor

Benjamin Joffe is a partner at HAX.

John Chambers, Chairman Emeritus of Cisco (now founder of JC2 Ventures), knows a thing or two about tech acquisitions: he bet his career on a first one in ’93, and went on to complete 180 M&As during his 20 years tenure.

His latest message for large corporations is an alarm bell. In a fireside chat at the HAX M&A Masterclass that followed the publication of his book: Connecting the Dots: Lessons for Leadership in a Startup World, Chambers issued a clear warning: learn about tech M&As or the future might happen without you.

Here are the key lessons to take away (video and transcript are here):

1. M&As Are A Vaccine Against Irrelevance

When stepping down from Cisco in 2015, John Chambers said that 40% of companies will be dead in 10 years. And 10 years might now be conservative.

It took about 20 years to Amazon to challenge WalMart, barely 10 to Airbnb with hotels and to Uber with taxis and car ownership. The next wave might just take 4–5 years. Since no company can invent everything — even Apple or Google buy startups routinely — you’ll need to either buy or partner seriously with startups (more on that later).

2. Tech Is Entering Every Sector

‘Every company you’ll acquire over this next decade will probably be indirectly or directly a tech company’, said Chambers.

Non-tech companies need to get up to speed on how to work with tech, and startups. Many of the corp dev executives who attended our last event were not from tech.

I met recently power tool companies from US and Europe . They had just set up CVC arms. They were looking into acquisitions, saying ‘we don’t know software’. They’d better tackle that M&A learning curve quickly!

Where do you fit the software?

3. Your Customers Can Tell You What To Buy

There was only one Steve Jobs, who just knew what to build. For others, your customers will might you what to buy. Listen to them and pay special attention to market transitions to buy next generation products.

Like Chambers experienced early in his career at IBM with mainframes, and at Wang Laboratories with mini-computers, missing a critical shift might be the end of you! The corollary for startups is: do something cool for key customers of a corporate, and you’ll get on their radar in no time!

4. Pick The Right Match

“When you buy a company, everything is negotiable except strategy and culture”said Chambers.

Oracle has mastered takeovers but for most others, acquisitions can fail due to a poor alignment of vision for the industry and each company’s role, cultural mismatch, geographic distance or lack of integration of systems (once you scale your number of acquisitions, having different divisions or subsidiaries use different software will make your CFO insane).

There is generally more than one possible M&A target, and Cisco often walked away from potential buys for the above reasons. It also developed efficient processes‘I used to view process at bureaucracy, but process done right can give you speed that others cannot match’, Chambers added.

Are they customer-focused and share their success with their employees?

5. Build Your Playbook(s)

Back in the 90’s tech M&As were often failures. Chambers and his team researched why and built Cisco’s playbook, then tweaked it for 2 decades. According to Chambers, most of it can apply to other companies. So save yourself some time and costly attempts by getting his book 😉

Interestingly, they approached the leadership transition in the same way: they studied what made them work or fail, and made it as smooth as could be when John stepped down in 2015.

6. Do Your Homework

One common trait of experienced corp dev teams is the amount of work they put in before they approach a startup.

Not only are they aware of many through their own research, their customers, business units, CVC arms or the media, but also via extensive networks, including with VC firms.

Like investors, you’re only as good as your deal flow. Corp devs then model the value a startup might bring, and pay the right price for it (more on this below).

7. Pay For What The Value Is To You

A hot startup can command a high price, but is it worth it for you?

If it offers no complementarity or synergies, it might in fact be of negative value. On the opposite, the current revenue of a startup might be irrelevant if you can blow their product through your channels and make it 10x or 100x.

The company Chambers bought in ’93 for close to US$100million only had US$10 million in revenue. It paid off in droves.

8. Keep The Talent

When you buy a tech company, you must try and keep the talent — especially founders, emotional leaders and engineers.

Understand ‘Leaders Currency: Track record, Trust and Relationships. So involve your HR team to answer key questions and help define attractive career paths within your organization for the acquired teams. If you fail to do so, people will leave or underperform, and you will not get the new products you hope for.

At Cisco, about 1/3 of the top leadership came from internal promotions, 1/3 from recruiting and 1/3 from acquisitions. At peak it likely had about 100 former CEOs on payroll!

9. Expect Some Failures

Despite its stellar track record, about 1/3 of Cisco’s were failures. Reasons may vary, and some might be caused by market changes. When it decided to shut down Flip Video within 2 years after its $590 million acquisition: Apple had just added cloud video capabilities, it was game over.

Expect them, learn from them, and be ready to cut losses and, ideally, redeploy people.

10. In The Future, M&As Might Not Be Enough

As the pace of innovation accelerates, and top talent joins startups rather than large companies, startups might become threats faster than you can buy them.

Chambers suggested that the next-level skill to develop is the ability to form strategic partnerships very early on with startups, such as this recent JV between Boeing and the much smaller 5-year-old A.I. startup SparkCognitionfor urban aerial mobility.

Joint Ventures Between Startups And Corporates Might Become More Common

Thanks to speakers, participants and supporters of this Masterclass series, in particular: Natasha Ligai (Logitech), Todd Neville (IBM), Christina LaMontagne(Johnson & Johnson), Anne Samak de la Cerda (former CFO, Withings), Dan Fairfax, (former CFO, Brocade), Amanda Zamurs and Larry Chu (Goodwin), Kate Whitcomb and Ethan Haigh (HAX).

Uber reaches tentative settlement with drivers arbitrating over employment status and expense reimbursement

Uber is reportedly on track to go public in the first quarter next year, and in the lead up to that, it’s sewing up some loose ends.

TechCrunch has learned that Uber has offered a tentative settlement to pay out 11 cents for every mile driven for Uber (including adjacent services like Uber Eats) to drivers who have been in individual arbitration with the company over their employment classification. Drivers were pursuing individual arbitration after an appeals court ruled in September that they could not combine their cases into a class action lawsuit.

Uber has declined to comment for this story, and one of the firms representing drivers, Lichten & Liss-Riordan, has not yet responded to our request for comment.

In a case that now goes back years and covers nine states, some 160,000 drivers had been seeking to be classified as employees rather than independent contractors, partly in order to get compensated for expenses related to driving for the company, such as gasoline used and vehicle maintenance.

Another big complaint in the case involved tips: drivers said Uber would not allow them to take or keep tips from passengers. (The claim preceded June 2017, when Uber formally introduced tips in its app, netting some $600 million extra for drivers in one year.)

Uber’s settlement of 11 cents per mile for all on-trip miles that were driven for Uber bypasses addressing those specific details. Notably, drivers who accept the settlement sign documents to release all claims against Uber related to employee misclassification.

The settlement is tentative depending on a sufficient number of drivers signing the agreement (we do not know what the minimum would be), among other factors, and it could take up to six months for payments to get to drivers.

On one hand, this an okay result in what was a challenging situation for litigating drivers. A class action lawsuit, combining several people into one case, would have gained economies of scale in terms of legal costs, and that could have meant a stronger recovery payout for the group.

But with the appeals judges striking down that possibility, it would have been left to individual drivers to pursue their own cases against the company. That is an expensive and time-consuming process and might not have seen as many plaintiffs willing to fight.

It may have been unpalatable for Uber, too. With the company gearing up for a public listing and all the scrutiny that comes with that, drawing a line under these cases with a settlement is a better result than multiple, years-long arbitration cases.

It’s also an important step in Uber repairing its image with current and potential drivers.

The company went through a huge crisis last year that highlighted questionable management and bad company culture when it came to female employees, treatment of drivers, interfacing with regulators and more.

(In fact the tipping was introduced as part of the company’s wider efforts to repair its business and image among drivers, passengers and employees. It also included appointing a new CEO. )

Having a loyal and growing base of drivers is essential to Uber scaling its business, and this settlement is one signal to drivers that Uber is trying to do right by them.

Still, it seems that the bargaining power here may have been more on Uber’s side.

Uber, valued at $72 billion as of its last funding and potentially as high as $120 billion in an IPO, is one of the world’s biggest privately-held tech companies. The 11 cents per mile it’s offering as a settlement is estimated to be only one-third of what a driver could have recovered for just one of the claims, expense reimbursement, had he or she pursued the arbitration rather than opted for the settlement.

Securing rights for the growing number of contract workers in the labor market has been one of the more controversial aspects of the boom in “gig-economy” businesses. It will be interesting to see how and if more of these kinds of cases come to light, and if regulators start to wade in, in cases where employers have not.

Twitter rages at a high school referee who forced a wrestler to cut off his dreads

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A high school wrestler from New Jersey, facing the threat of a forfeit, had his dreadlocks cut at a wrestling meet on Wednesday, sparking outrage across the internet against the white referee that gave him the ultimatum.

A video of 120-pound Beuna Regional High School wrestler Andrew Johnson getting his hair cut was posted to Twitter by SNJ Today News sports director Mike Frankel. Johnson can be seen being consoled by his teammates and appears visibly upset after his overtime victory over his opponent.

Epitome of a team player ⬇️

A referee wouldn’t allow Andrew Johnson of Buena @brhschiefs to wrestle with a cover over his dreadlocks. It was either an impromptu haircut, or a forfeit. Johnson chose the haircut, then won by sudden victory in OT to help spark Buena to a winpic.twitter.com/f6JidKNKoI

— Mike Frankel (@MikeFrankelSNJ) December 20, 2018 Read more…

More about Wrestling, Culture, Discrimination, and Sports

9 Immediate Tips To Stay Focused on Your Goals

Honestly, do you still remember the new year’s resolutions you set at the beginning of this year? How are you faring in them right now?

If you’re like most people, chances are you’ve long abandoned those goals. Some of you may not even recall the goals you have set and that’s really unfortunate.

Goal setting works and it has never failed anyone. The only reason why goals would stop working is because the person who has set them chose to give up on them mid-way.

During the past few years, I’ve been working relentlessly on my goals – be it blogging, setting up my new business, improving my diet, losing weight, making like-minded friends, improving my relationship with my parents, and so on.

Over the course of the past 2.5 years, I’ve made significant progress on those goals.

For example, I lost about 7 to 8 kgs this year. Currently, I am at my desired weight. I’ve switched from an unhealthy, junk food diet to a healthy, vegan diet which I’m proud of.

I created my personal development blog and built it from 2 readers a day (me and my good friend) to over 600k page views/month, making it one of the top personal development blogs online. I’ve created a successful business out of my passion in personal development and am earning a steady, passive income from it.

I resolved a deep-seated emotional eating issue which I’ve been struggling with the past decade. My previously sour relationship with my parents has dramatically improved for the better in the past 2 months.

I’m not sharing the above to distance myself from you or to put myself on a pedestal. It’s quite the opposite. I’m sharing the above to let you know that because I’ve achieved my goals, you can achieve your goals, too- no matter what they are. It’s all a matter of staying focused.

If you constantly get distracted in your goal pursuits, here are 8 tips I have for you to stay focused:

Concentrate on 1 to 3 goals

If you constantly have trouble sticking to your goals, maybe you’re spreading yourself too thin. Pick 1 to 3 goals that are most important to you and stick to them. Don’t bother yourself with any other goals until these goals are achieved or unless your priorities shift.

focus on one goal

For me, my top priority goal is to reach out to more people through my blog. So, I ensure all my daily actions ladder up to this one goal. Majority of my time in the week is spent either writing new articles for the blog, maintaining my Facebook and twitter account, maintaining the blog and forums, processing my emails or creating upcoming plans. If I’m caught up with something else for a long period of time, it’s a cue to me that I’m off-track.

Such laser focus has allowed me to make much more progress, compared to when I juggle across 4 to 5 goals and make little progress in them.

Create a vision board

A vision board is a collage of pictures and images that represent your goals and dreams. Creating a vision board helps you to visualize your end goals more clearly. Inevitably, it will inspire you to take consistent action. It also serves to remind you of your goals every day when you see the board.

I’ve a vision board in my bedroom which I see every time I’m in my room. Every time I see my board, it reinforces my goals to me and reminds me to take action and move forward. 

If you’ve yet to create your vision board, I’ve created a video tutorial which you may find helpful. You can watch it if you want to know how to create your vision board.

Create milestones

If you just set one huge goal, it can be discouraging, especially when you don’t achieve it after a short while. When that happens, some people may procrastinate on the goal altogether which is quite unfortunate.

identifying one goal

I find it helpful to break a big goal into smaller goals. Just like when you go on a long road-trip, you set pit-stops to rest/recuperate throughout the trip. 

Create a plan

If you have a plan worked out for your goal, it becomes much easier to stick to it. All you have to do is to follow the actions you have planned for the day. The best time to work out your plan is when you set the goal because that’s when your motivation is the highest.

Usually, I create my goal action plans right after I set my goal. I take action immediately and that helps create a positive momentum. 

Track your results

It’s important for me to track the results of what I do because otherwise, it feels like my actions are not making a difference. Hence, every time I work on a goal, I will identify 1 to 2 performance metrics, then track those metrics daily/weekly.

They are my connection to the end goal because they let me know whether I’m on track or off track. They let me know whether to tweak my actions or not. 

Have goal buddies

Goal buddies are people who share similar goals with you. They help to remind you about your goal, spur you on when you feel unmotivated, give you new ideas on how to achieve your goal, keep you on track, among others. Your goal buddies can be your friends or people whom you meet in interest groups. Since you already share similar interests, it’ll be easy to find people with the same goals.

Start a journal documenting your goal pursuit

Having a blog or private diary to document your goals can be a therapeutic experience. A lot of times, we abandon our goals because we get frustrated mid-way and we are not sure what to do about that.

However, when we write out our thoughts, it helps us to get clarity on our issues and renews our interest in the goal. Many readers at my blog created their life journals in the blog forums and have found that to be tremendously helpful in keeping them focused on their goals. 

Be clear on why you’re pursuing the goals

If you keep giving up on your goals halfway, perhaps you were never serious in them to begin with. For me, if I’m really serious about a goal, I’d never give up on it – I’d keep hammering away at it, regardless of the obstacles, until they give way and I’m enjoying the fruits of my labor. 

I once had a coaching client who would embark on many new business ventures only to stop within the first 2 to 3 months. He never knew why.

When I drilled into the issue with him, he found out it was because he just wanted to start a business to earn money. Well, he was already earning good money with his current job and that gave hi little reason to move out of his comfort zone.

After that, I recommended him to identify a business idea which he was truly passionate about and he did. Today, he has been working on this same business for the past 1.5 years, the longest he has ever kept to a business venture.

Learn to say no

Do you often put your goals aside for other people?

It’s okay to do that once or twice but if you keep doing the whole time, something is seriously wrong. You can’t forever put your life on hold for others!

I used to have trouble saying no to others. That’s until I realized I was just doing myself and my dreams a disfavor when I say yes to something that’s not what I want. Learn how to say no and you may find a bigger pot of gold at the end of this rainbow.

Check out my related posts at Dumb Little Man that will help you stay on track in your goals:

Written by Celestine Chua, a writer at Personal Excellence where she shares her best advice on how to achieve personal excellence and live your best life. Get her RSS feed directly and add her on Twitter @celestinechua. If you like this article, you will enjoy one of her top articles: 101 Things To Do Before You Die.

Photo Credit: lululemon athletica

The post 9 Immediate Tips To Stay Focused on Your Goals appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Convo now lets you see which employees got the memo

Convo, a tool perhaps best described as a real-time company message board, picked up a new trick this week: automated acknowledgements.

It’s a pretty common thing in the corporate world: you need to send something out to all of the employees at your company, but you also need to know exactly who has seen it (and, of course, who hasn’t.) Who actually got the memo? Can you say that everyone has seen some mandatory reading? Who still needs to see it?

You can try to use email read receipts, but those are hit-or-miss — particularly as many email clients disable them by default nowadays. You can make everyone sign a form saying they’ve seen the document in question, but that’s a pain in the butt. When all you need is a list that says “Yep, these employees have all seen this blurb of text” so you can meet some new compliance requirement, it shouldn’t be complicated.

Convo’s new tool makes it pretty easy: write your post like any other, but check the “Recipients must acknowledge to view” box before sending it out.

When it pops up in your colleagues’ Convo timeline, it’ll be almost entirely blurred, save for a subject line and a prompt asking them to acknowledge the post. Once they deliberately acknowledge it, the post is de-blurred, the original poster gets an alert letting them know someone has read it, and the reader’s name moves from the “Has not seen” to the “Has seen” list.

To be clear, this isn’t a security feature; there are ways to get around the blurring without officially acknowledging it. Hell, you can just say ‘Hey Jim, did you already open that convo post? Let me see it on your phone’. The point here isn’t preventing anyone in the company from seeing something, but in making sure everyone has seen something, and having an automatically generated list to fulfill any compliance requirements. If you’re using Convo’s group features correctly, it should only show up for people you intend to see it in the first place.

The feature rolled out earlier this week. It’ll be available for all Convo networks for the next month to check out, at which point they expect to limit it to Enterprise-level customers.