Posts

The Coronacceleration: The move to digital money and digital gold, while Bitcoin tracks the stock market

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This post was also published on LinkedIn Pulse. A series on the latent trends that have been accelerated by the CoronavirusBitcoin advocates have long claimed that Bitcoin was the ultimate hedge against fiat currencies printing unlimited amounts of money. We just experienced this scenario: the U.S. Federal Reserve is buying “unlimited” amounts of debt, and the U.S. Treasury is spiking its debt load to $25 trillion while promising to pay almost nothing in interest.

Bitcoin should be spiking relative to the U.S. Dollar due to the debasement of the world’s primary reserve currency. What has actually happened is that the stock market has risen, and Bitcoin has followed the stock market. Inflation increases asset prices and Bitcoin is clearly now a dollar-based asset, much like a tech stock. Especially over the past year, the same type of people that trade Bitcoin also trade tech stocks, and yesterday’s Bitcoin halving had the zeal of a tech stock split. It is now evident that printing tran…

The Coronacceleration: De-urbanization and the redistribution of technology companies

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This post was also published on LinkedIn Pulse. A series on the latent trends that have been accelerated by the CoronavirusPopulation density and hygiene are the two most important factors in the spread of respiratory illnesses. In a post-Coronavirus world, people are going to be more incented to avoid dense urban centers that were experiencing typhoid outbreaks even before the Coronavirus.
The acceleration of Millennials moving to smaller citiesThere was already a trend, especially amongst the Millennial generation, to move from dense urban centers such as New York, Los Angeles, and the Bay Area to smaller emerging sunbelt cities such as Austin, Raleigh, and Nashville. This trend will accelerate as newly unemployed people move to cheaper locales or back home with their parents. Less densely populated, relatively clean cities are much less likely to be shut down due to future “second wave” outbreaks. Small businesses in smaller sunbelt cities will mostly survive a relatively short shut…

The Coronacceleration: The transition from mass to personal transport and travel

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This post was also published on LinkedIn Pulse. A series on the latent trends that have been accelerated by the CoronavirusAfter the widespread fear of a pandemic, people are not going to be inclined to get into a crowded train or other mass transit, and will orient towards more personalized transportation whenever possible.

In just the past few years, consumers had already flocked to personalized transportation. Uber and Lyft quickly infiltrated the public consciousness as on demand taxi service. Uber Pool and Lyft Line were introduced shortly afterwards which enabled users to form dynamic carpools, beginning to replace public transportation for a set of more wealthy riders. Lately, on-demand electric bikes and scooter rentals have democratized on-demand, highly personalized transportation.

Adding bike lanes for personal electric vehicles and dedicated lanes for carpools is a much cheaper and flexible alternative to restructuring roads or building tunnels to accommodate new or upgraded…

The Coronacceleration: A deepening mistrust in experts as we live through the five stages of model grief

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This post was also published on LinkedIn Pulse. A series on the latent trends that have been accelerated by the CoronavirusExperts and scientists use hypotheses and models to define their outlook and predictions, which usually are developed, tested and refined over long periods of time. Models can have profound policy implications far beyond experts changing their opinion from don’t wear masks and then to wear masks. With the Cononavirus, we are seeing an unprecedented acceleration of hypotheses and models changing in near real time, leaving heads spinning.

The initial Coronavirus models overestimated the death rate by underestimating asymptomatic carriers, and also overestimated the hospitalization rate. The moment that it was clear there was a flawed model was when New York said they needed 30,000 more ventilators and the Federal government said they didn’t. Epidemiologists are scientists, and scientists work with models that are constantly refined. The Governor of New York later sai…

The Coronacceleration: Online-everything will drive growth for developing nations

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This post was also published on LinkedIn Pulse. A series on the latent trends that have been accelerated by the CoronavirusThe most obvious Corona acceleration is the online-everything trend. Over the next decade, companies were already on their path to a digital transformation to enable most consumer and business transactions online, and with everyone suddenly at home, the trend has rapidly accelerated into the present.

The online-everything trend is particularly relevant to emerging countries. Similar to how most of the developed world skipped landlines and went straight to mobile telephony, developing countries that were well on their way to copying Western structures will consider skipping the present and going straight into the future.
Financial servicesEven in the West, many financial services were still in a “come on down to the branch” phase for many interactions including mortgages and wealth management. With these types of interactions no longer possible, consumers have flocke…

How to manage global data under CLOUD Act governance

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This post was also published with the Industry Association of Privacy Professionals. It’s common knowledge that the U.S. government, with a subpoena or warrant, can compel companies to disclose data about companies and individuals. All governments have some type of legal capability to request data from information providers.
What is surprising to many, even those of us in IT, is that with the 2018 Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act, the U.S. government can compel a U.S. company that is hosting data in another country to comply with such information requests. For example, if a Malaysian company is hosting data in Amazon Web Service’s Singapore region, Amazon will have to comply with U.S. subpoenas and warrants to disclose the data.
The CLOUD Act was passed to amend the Stored Communication Act of 1986, after Microsoft took a case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to not disclose data that was stored on a Microsoft server in Ireland. There are also similar laws in other countr…

Building a global cloud with lessons learned from WeWork

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We couldn't build a global cloud that would go bankrupt without massive infusions of cash. We had to apply lean and agile methodologies to our global data center build-out.
At InCountry, we face the herculean task of building a global data storage and processing cloud with points-of-presence (PoP) in every country in the world.  To make it even more challenging, we need two redundant facilities in each country and to be compliant with each country’s specific regulations. Our customers would then be able to store and process data in any country with our multi-tenant offering or use dedicated hosts with our single-tenant offering.
Building fixed infrastructure across all of these countries would quickly add up. There are 193 countries in the United Nations. With two redundant facilities in each country, that’s 386 facilities. With an average annual hosting and bandwidth contract of $100,000 per facility and an average set up cost of $50,000 per facility and, we were looking at almost …

Why doesn't Facebook simply filter out politics?

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This post was also published in VentureBeat. As the adage goes, don’t discuss politics or religion at the dinner table. Facebook’s genesis was for friends and family to share what was going on in their lives. Yet over the past couple of years, many Facebook newsfeeds have turned into “Trumpbook,” with a stream of outrage-focused political posts fueling Facebook interactions, especially during election cycles.
Facebook first claimed that its fake news issue was “crazy”, then repeatedly stated that their algorithm could discern fake news, and has since changed its tune — it has a war room where armies of contractors analyze ads and posts for validity.
But with recent advancements in machine learning, it is now possible to algorithmically filter out political news and advertisements using off-the-shelf machine learning algorithms. Topic categorization algorithms have been successfully identifying content for years and have become increasingly sophisticated and turnkey. The realistic go…

Payments will be Facebook's regulatory waterloo

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This post was also published in Entrepreneur.Facebook has had quite a run operating in the completely unregulated, wild world of social media, finally ending with a mea culpa that it needs government regulation in order to manage the massive social and democratic disorder it has created. With its new Libra cryptocurrency, Facebook wants to disrupt the most highly regulated industry on the planet: the payments and transborder payments markets.
In recent years, startups have made a habit of taking on regulators in order to grow, with Uber and Lyft as the posterchildren. Playing cat and mouse with much-hated, local regulators like the Taxi and Limousine Commissions of various cities and countries proved easy fodder in many jurisdictions and Uber and Lyft are now multibillion dollar public companies. 
However, once startups aggressively step into highly regulated industries like insurance or healthcare, regulators come down on them hard. The once high-flying Zenefits was kneecapped by vari…

Why IT leaders need to meet the needs of the hourly worker

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This post was also published in CIO.com.Hourly employees are frequently overlooked in IT strategy — but often present the highest case for return on investment.In IT decision making, the core stakeholder of a business system is typically the business function. The finance department selects the finance system, the human resources department selects the HR system, and so on. Downstream from these decisions, regular employees are then frequently confronted with Byzantine systems.This issue is particularly pronounced for hourly workers, who are rarely considered when building and investing in work systems. At many large and midsize companies, hourly workers use a variety of non-intuitive legacy systems to perform functions like submitting timesheets, scheduling shifts, and looking up inventory.The business challenge of integrating hourly workersHourly employees are usually the most underfunded in terms of IT spend, but often present the highest case for IT return on investment. It typic…

Seven tech trends that will destroy globalization

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This post was also published in CNBC. Over the past few decades, globalization has bound countries together into a global supply chain encompassing finished products, parts, agricultural products, food products and energy. But a commingling of seven well-known tech trends will soon make it inconceivable to manufacture a product in China, ship it 7,000 miles to Long Beach, and then truck it 700 miles to Salt Lake City to be placed onto a Walmart shelf. With projected continual improvement in each of these seven tech trends, a large majority of global trade could cease very shortly.1. Automated manufacturingA fundamental basis of outsourcing manufacturing is that decreased labor costs outweigh the shipping cost. But thanks to more automated assembly lines, we are very close to the tipping point in employee productivity where the shipping cost will outweigh the labor savings of offshore manufacturing.It's not a coincidence that multinational companies are suddenly pulling manufac…

From federated identity to consolidated identity: a look at the past, present and future

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This post was also published in CIO.com.It’s time for a better way to maintain identity in the enterprise. Let’s explore a new identity model, Consolidated Identity, that will simplify how employees authenticate into systems, access data and complete workflows.Today, it is common to use your Google, LinkedIn, or Facebook identity to log into a website. However, in the first generation of the commercial Internet, this was not the standard experience. Virtually every internet service required users to create an account with a username and password. For services that were only used occasionally, having to create this account and remember all the associated passwords often created friction for new users.The invention of federated identity for the consumer InternetI worked for Sun Microsystems in the early 2000s and was fortunate enough to be the technical lead for a new concept called federated identity, which presented a way for separate online entities to share identity across any numb…

Why disrupting government pot policy is so much harder than the taxi commission

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This post was also published in VentureBeat.The recent legalization of recreational marijuana in California and other states now totals to 45 states that have legalized some form of marijuana. However, the federal government has never endorsed even medical marijuana. The Obama administration created rules known as the Cole memo where they decided not to enforce federal marijuana laws if states legalized it. Recently, Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed this course and stated that marijuana laws would be enforced.A raft of startups are operating in this tenuous legal gray area, including Eaze, Baker, and Pax Labs. Much like Uber and Lyft flouted taxi commission regulations, these startups are betting that public sentiment and user traction will overcome the existing legal and regulatory environment. Indeed, all of the state legalization efforts were passed by millennial-driven voter ballot initiatives in both red and blue states rather than by entrenched legislators. The citizens …

Don’t ignore active data, the trees in the big data forest

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This post was also published on Enterprise CIO.Big data has been in vogue for years, but many businesses are having a lot of difficulty harnessing value and gaining insights from the voluminous amounts of data they collect. However, there is an often-ignored set of data in the enterprise that is truly actionable, data that I call “active” data.Active data is “in-flight data” that represents things that are changing or need some sort of action taken to move forward. Active data includes data like open purchase orders, new PTO or family leave requests, sales opportunities that are changing in scope, orders that are shipped late and so on.Surprisingly, there's a relatively small amount of active data, even in companies with tens or even hundreds of thousands of employees. Yes, there is a lot of data floating around the enterprise, but there are only so many open Purchase Order requests and or Key Performance Indicators—data that employees actually need and use.The problem with only f…