Archive for the 'Technology Industry' Category

Elon Musk. Biography of a Self-Made Visionary, Entrepreneur, and Billionaire. B. Storm

Elon Musk. Biography of a Self-Made Visionary, Entrepreneur, and Billionaire. B. Storm. 2014.   I label this book disappointing. It is more a larger Wikipedia article than an insightful book on Elon Musk. It does not appear that th eauthor evere interviewed Musk or his employees, but rather put together public material in one place. If you want a quick synopsis of what Musk has done- yes you will get it. What is missing is a deep dive into who and what Musk is as a person. So we will need to wait.

The Woman Who Smashed Codes. The true story of love, spies, and the unlikely heroine who outwitted america’s enemies. Jason Fagone.

Shakespeare

Shakespeare (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Woman Who Smashed Codes. The true story of love, spies, and the unlikely heroine who outwitted america’s enemies. Jason Fagone. 2017. ISBN 9780062430489. This is the story of Elizebeth Smith and William Friedman who married and together built the American tools and teams for  cryptography (code breaking)  prior to WW2 , which eventually became the NSA. There are many smaller stories  in the larger one. A wife who always let her husband shine ( yet history shows that she was the absolutely brilliant one) . How society (and the military)  ruthlessly and cavalierly ignored her true value in position and salary.  They worked on unscrambling puzzles from crooks, spies,  informants, and the enemy military.  They wrote the definitive earliest books on code breaking.  Their work was routinely used and seized by the always publicity seeking Hoover who always ignored their contributions. Toward the end, the US governments paranoia about secrecy ended up in the seizure of much of the Friedman’s personal papers and rare books collection.   They got their start through an eccentric millionaire,  George Fabyan ( who wanted to prove that Francis Bacon wrote all of Shakespeare’s work) on his estate called Riverbank.  It is highly readable, almost improbable (until you remember the context), and the authors text flows well along.  This would make an exceptional movie.

What the Dog Saw. And other adventures. Malcolm Gladwell.

English: Malcolm Gladwell speaks at PopTech! 2...

What the Dog Saw. And other adventures. Malcolm Gladwell.   2009. ISBN 9780316086134.  I have had this boom on my Kindle for a long time.  Its about time I read it. It is a series of articles that Gladwell published in the New Yorker . As befits such an lofty tome, the writing is clear, erudite and does not sway from the nub of the story. I found them highly interesting and always entertaining.  Gladwell has the gift to ask the unasked question from an unique point of view. This each story has the ability to educate and uplift the reader.  Good book for a lengthy air flight.

Finding My Virginity. The new Autobiography. Richard Branson.

English: Sir Richard Branson at the eTalk Fest...

Finding My Virginity. The new autobiography. Richard Branson. 2017.  ISBN 9780735219434.  Well,  you could not find a more elaborate showman than Branson and he certainly has no issues with tooting his own horn ( Now for the second time) .  That said he is also a master of the story so each chapter is an unique and compelling story. the copy is fresh , insightful (perhaps a tad self seeking) . Today’s leader would learn much from Branson’s breezy leadership style.  While staying in Australia I chatted to relatives who were among the early Virgin Blue employees and they could not say enough good things about the man and his leadership team.  The breadth of his efforts is astonishing, from telecom through to health and space. In one story Branson makes a very good argument for the moving of drug and addiction/treatment  from being a criminal to a health problem. We saw this working well in Portugal which has decriminalized all drug and addiction issues.  Each chapter/story pulls you forward through this substantial book until nothing he does could surprise you.  So I advise reading the book.

The rule of Five ( Or Six)

The rule of Five ( Or Six). While chatting with a young entrepreneur I remembered something my son told me. As a software guy he had made the comparison between how  software packages ( Adobe and  Microsoft for example) worked and how vertical businesses worked. Once he learned the  basic five (or six) rules of the Adobe environment, it became easier to learn individual Adobe products . The same was true for  Microsoft products like Office. Of course the rules for Adobe were not always reflected in the rules for Microsoft.

He took the same view with him as he built businesses in various separate verticals like gaming, music, on line services and food . Once he learned the basic industry rules for success, it became easier for him to pick a business, measure his success and head off potential issues.   Eg. In food he said , a bakery faces having to throw out 30-60% of its fresh stock at the end of every day.  So it makes sense to also have products with a longer shelf life, eg add a patisserie, or a chocolate based business with a bakery since chocolate has a much longer shelf life.

For entrepreneurs I always ask them what are the rules of the vertical that they are working in?  How do successful companies smooth out the normal ups and downs in their business cycle?

Eg Lululemon founders learned the retail business through successfully operating Westbeach.  By cannily creating/nurturing a distinct vertical , yogawear ( or athleisure) , they built up momentum ( and a loyal following).  By using and driving fashion trends they were able to build a commanding market position.

On the other hand for Recon Instruments  rules cut both ways.  They could not create a commanding position through failing to understand early enough how eyewear/goggles was mostly a fashion industry, which their manufacturing partners relied on for annual sales growth.  Faced with growing  returns of unsold product  Recon had to pivot its business model.  This eventually lead to the successful technology sale to Intel.  But this involved a lot of hard work.

So what are the rules of success for your vertical?

The Store. The store is always watching. James Patterson & Richard DeLallo

The Store. James Patterson & Richard DeLallo. 2017. ISBN 0316395455. What if “Amazon” was not just a retailer , but became so much more in our lives?  Well “The Store” is that and more in a not so distant future.  A family decides to go undercover in a store managed town to discover the full story.  If you have a slightly dystopian view of the future, seasoned with conspiracy theories then you will really love or fear this book. A nice easy read yet it is pretty close to what could be truth if we get really lazy!

Rethinking the Internet of Things. A scalable approach to connecting everything. Francis daCosta

Rethinking the Internet of Things. A scalable approach to connecting everything. Francis daCosta. 2013. ISBN 978043025740053999.  This book won the 2014 Jolt award. It is available as a free download from Springer.    A proposed architecture of the Internet of things based on the sheer numbers of the sensors that are and will be available being not suited to a traditional TCP/IPv6 architecture. The author sees a tiered collection approach. Sensors  ( some to many ) that “chirp” connect to collectors  ( usually one way) to propagator nodes (with IPv6)  to and then on to integrator/analyzer functions.  Its a fascinating read that makes some good arguments for this type of architecture.  Does this match with the growing push for the Iot to be a bottom up, open architecture that is not tied to any vendor cw proprietary  technologies remains to be seen.

Becoming Facebook. The 10 challenges that defined the company that’s disrupting the world. Michael Hoefflinger.

English: Mark Zuckerberg, Founder & CEO of Fac...

Becoming Facebook. The 10 challenges that defined the company that’s disrupting the world. Michael Hoefflinger. 2017.  The author is a Zuckerberg fanboy – but as he lays it out in this book,  there are good reasons for it.  This book has reaffirmed to me why I retain my original Facebook shares.  The author clearly shows as an insider who understands how technology business grows why Facebook should stay on a tear.  Clearly written as well.

Mapping Innovation. A playbook for navigating a disruptive age. Greg Satell ,

disruptive Innovation am Beispiel Wechseldaten...

Mapping Innovation. A playbook for navigating a disruptive age. Greg Satell. 2017.  ISBN 9781259862250.  A delight to read that covers much of the innovative initiatives in recent history.  The final gem is the Innovation Playbook outline.   The writer takes his years of experience in IBM and other enterprises and marries it with current   You can easily marry this material with Lean working, Rockefeller Habits and other “quick ” business plan proponents  ( i.e. Gazelles etc)  and find out where much of these ideas came from.   I recommend it private and public organizations who wish to be better at supporting Innovation.   Its the truth and nothing but the truth.  Buy this when it comes out.

One Perfect Pitch. How to sell your idea, your product, your business and yourself. Marie Perruchet.

Silicon Valley

One Perfect Pitch. How to sell your idea, your product, your business and yourself. Marie Perruchet. 2016. ISBN  9780071837590. The author was a french journalist who ended up in Silicon Valley helping entrepreneurs at 500 Startups make better pitches. She knew that the key to success was to create stories that did the job, quickly and clearly. ( Can you see why I like to read books by journalists?) After years of this  she created her company , OnePerfectPitch and wrote this book.  It is a one stop read for how to tell the story you need to tell to an audience that is likely attention deficit.  I found it immediately useful and it continued that utility all through the book.  Good compelling read that is easy to digest and use. If you speak to more than a  few people in your life, you need this book.