Building an Innovation-Based Economy

Smart Policy: Building an Innovation-Based Economy | Brookings Institution.

“Darrell West, Allan Friedman and Walter Valdivia argue that the United States needs smarter technology innovation policies in order to capture the economic advantages of the digital economy and improve long-term growth. Growth through smart innovation policy should be front and center for lawmakers as they wrestle with social and economic challenges in an information age, these scholars write.”

A link to this article was Tweeted by Steve Case this morning. The article summarizes the highlights of the paper: Smart Policy, Building an Innovation-Based Economy by The Brookings Institution. It is so important that our government creates policies that facilitate the growth of productivity through technology. It is difficult to believe that anybody really needs convincing that these things need to happen. The full paper is a great read. If you cannot read the whole thing, I suggest skimming the case studies. My two personal favorites:

Case Study (pg.10) –

Reverse auctions represent a way to save money and improve the ability of small companies to compete for government contracts. Agencies post their needs for goods and services and online websites allow companies to bid down the prices. A 2011 study by David Wyld of Southeastern Louisiana University entitled “Reverse Auctions: Saving Money and Increasing Transparency” found that reverse auctions could save the federal government $8.9 billion. One of the chief virtues of reverse auctions is their use of technology to increase the number of suppliers. This raises the level of competition and creates tremendous efficiencies in the process. A case study of the U.S. State Department demonstrated that reverse auctions enabled small businesses to win the majority of the government contracts bid through this mechanism.

Case Study (pg. 22) –

Professor Henry Jenkins of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his colleagues argue that students require new learning skills in the 21st century. They include:

  1. Play: “the capacity to experiment with one’s surroundings as a form of problem-solving,”
  2. Performance: “the ability to adopt alternative identities for the purpose of improvisation and discovery,”
  3. Simulation: “ the ability to interpret and construct dynamic models of real-world processes,”
  4. Appropriation: “the ability to meaningfully sample and remix media content,”
  5. Multitasking: “the ability to scan one’s environment and shift focus as needed to salient details,”
  6. Distributed Cognition: “the ability to interact meaningfully with tools that expand mental capacities,”
  7. Collective Intelligence: “the ability to pool knowledge and compare notes with others towards a common goal,”
  8. Judgment: “the ability to evaluate the reliability and credibility of different information sources,”
  9. Transmedia Navigation: “the ability to follow the flow of stories and information across multiple modalities,”
  10. Networking: “the ability to search for, synthesize, and disseminate information,”
  11. Negotiation: “the ability to travel across diverse communities, discerning and respecting multiple perspectives, and grasping and following alternative norms.”




LinkedIn’s recent marketing campaign offered users nothing but bragging rights. Brilliant!


The recent campaign by Linkedin to ingratiate users while reminding them of the fact that there are 200 million members on the site is a fantastic example of innovative social marketing at its best. Emails did not just go to the users with the most viewed profiles. A friend of mine received one that said “Congratuations! You were one of our first million members in the United States”. According to TechCrunch over 80,000 people bragged on Twitter about having one of the most viewed profiles on Linkedin.

Social media disaster for Burger King: Twitter feed says chain sold to McDonald’s

This hurts…


Even by the standards of social media fiascos, this one’s a doozy. On Monday, Burger King’s official Twitter feed announced the chain had been sold to its rival and began posting pro-McDonald’s messages and tales of employee drug use.

The strange Twitter activity took place after hackers apparently took control of Burger King’s account and replaced its name and image with the McDonald’s logo. Here is a screenshot of what followers of @burgerking saw on Monday:

Screen shot of burger king hack

The blue checkmark beside the @burgerking name indicate that this is indeed Burger King’s official Twitter account. Other tweets included:

It’s unclear who is behind  the mischief but the tweets’ references to “lulz’ and “@youranonnews” suggest the hacker collective Anonymous is involved.


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Work Smarter with Apps to Increase your Productivity

BestVendor Raises "M For Work App Recommendation Platform | TechCrunch

BestVendor Raises $3M For Work App Recommendation Platform | TechCrunch.

“BestVendor, which aims to create an online resource where business professionals can exchange recommendations for work-related software and services, has raised $3 million in Series A funding.”

BestVendor helps employees learn keep track of startups and emerging technologies in order to help them be more productive. It is a great resource for learning about how others are taking advantage of innovative productivity tools.

Here are there most liked apps lists.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

The 3 most popular apps suggested on the site are:

BestVendor Raises "M For Work App Recommendation Platform | TechCrunch

DropboxI am surprised that I still meet people who do not use Dropbox on a regular basis. I started using Dropbox in business school to work on group projects because it allows multiple people to easily collaborate on projects in real-time from different locations. I still use it to share large files with colleagues. Dropbox account users start with 2 GB of free space and you can earn more free space by referring your friend. According to Businessweek, Dropbox reached 100 million users in November of 2012.

BestVendor Raises "M For Work App Recommendation Platform | TechCrunch

Gmail: If you are not familiar with Gmail then you likely won’t be reading this blog!

BestVendor Raises "M For Work App Recommendation Platform | TechCrunch

EvernoteEvernote is a productivity app that allows you to take notes and view them on any of your devices. I was a slow adopter to Evernote and now I use it habitually. I take notes during meetings in Evernote on my laptop and tag them for easy reference. I can also save files and webpages and view them later on my iPhone and iPad. I do not remember what life was like with out it – oh yeah, and it’s free for up to 40MB of date per month.

One productivity app that is not in the top 10 most suggested apps on BestVendor is Google Drive. It is similar to Dropbox but provides 5 GB of data for free.

What apps do you use to increase your productivity?

Kleiner Partners’ View of the Future of Tech –

Kleiner Partners' View of the Future of Tech -

Kleiner Partners’ View of the Future of Tech –

“If you’re working with great entrepreneurs in a rapidly growing marketplace, you have a conviction to work with them and you can be rewarded all along the way. Every one of those investments is leveraging the trends of mobile, social and commerce. These aren’t waves of innovation; they’re tsunamis.”

This is a great interview from the Wall Street Journal with Ted Schlein and John Doerr from KPCB. Since 1972, KPCB has backed more than 500 ventures, including some of the world’s most visionary entrepreneurs. In this interview Schlein and Doerr talk about investments in clean tech as well as Twitter, Square, Spotify, Flipboard, Chegg, and Coursera, among others.

What they are talking about:

  • There are 1.2 billion people with smartphones, up 40% year over year, and that’s just 17% of the world’s population.
  • On tech’s “four horseman” – Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon: “This is day zero. Apple is not done, Facebook is not done, Google is not done, and Amazon is not done. Those companies have massive opportunity. I would be a long-term shareholder in all of them – and I am.”
  • In 2011, the cumulative revenue of approx. 70 companies in Kleiner’s clean-tech portfolio was $1.3 billion. In 2012 it was $2.4 billion, up 80% year over year.

I also recommend checking out the Insights section on the KPCB website. There are great free presentations on a wide range of tech topics from 2012 Internet Trends to CEO 2.0 – lessons from Jeff Bezos, Mark Pincus, and Neil Young – to Hacking Gamification.


Easy and Affordable Menu Management | Locu

Easy menu management | Locu

Easy and Affordable Menu Management | Locu.

“Locu’s founders met at MIT in 2010, where they worked on a project together that was supervised by a group of top researchers and lecturers, including Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web. One of his central ideas is to have one unique address for every object in the world. Take Jen, who runs a great Italian restaurant called La Morra. Instead of having to upload a menu to her own website, mobile site, Facebook or one of hundreds of menu review and recommendations sites, she should be able to maintain her menu in a single place. Anytime a change occurs, an update is made across the web. Even better, if someone “likes” a dish or tells his or her friends about it, Jen should be able to track all this in one place. The idea for Locu was born.”

On Dec. 10th I posted an article from Forbes about how restaurants are using technology to provide better customer service. Locu, is a Boston-based local business data provider helping restaurants (and other small businesses) use technology to reduce complexity and manage their businesses more efficiently, and improve customer experience.

Locu has built a sizable collection of restaurant menu data, and allows restaurant owners to take ownership of their Locu profiles to update price lists, specials, menus, and services. All updates made on the Locu profile will be made automatically on websites, mobile sites, mobile apps, Facebook pages, and in local search directories. Locu also provides low cost tools for restaurant to use to help them publish dynamic menus and price lists to their sites.

On Nov. 15th, as reported by TechCrunch here, Locu announced a notable partnership with OpenTable. According to the agreement, OpenTable’s menu data will now be powered by Locu, and restaurant owners will also be able to edit those menus in real time.

By allowing restaurants to efficiently update menus and prices across various platforms, Locu will help ensure much needed consistency of menus across sites. If you have ever gone to a restaurant after looking at the menu on Yelp, and found out that what you wanted was unavailable, you will also understand that this service will greatly improve customer experience.

Articles about Locu:

  1. Locu Seeks to Unlock the Power of the Mobile Web for Local Businesses
  2. Locu Launches to Merchants: Now Local Businesses Can Update Once To Publish Prices to Web, Mobile & Facebook

More Information:

Winners and Losers In The Last-Second Economy – Forbes

Winners and Losers In The Last-Second Economy – Forbes. – James Slavet, a partner at venture capital firm Greylock 

“The very best of these apps will occupy permanent real estate on consumers’ phones, and will have high repeat usage. They’ll have your credit card on file, and you’ll be able to book with addictive ease. The best will deliver experiences that deliver utility (my ride shows up on time) with just the right sprinkling of magic (my favorite Pandora station is already playing when I open the car door). These apps will each be a form of vertical wallet in key areas for the consumer, including gifting, ticketing and live entertainment, transportation, dining and others. The startups that succeed will have capabilities that extend beyond pure front-end software development, including logistics, inventory optimization and distributed workforce management.”


Starbucks’ Secret Weapon – Forbes

Starbucks' Secret Weapon - Forbes

Starbucks’ Secret Weapon – Forbes.

“[Michelle Gass] led Starbucks in a new direction in 1996 by making a huge success of Frappuccino, now a $2 billion brand. She ran the company’s big turnaround for Chief Executive Howard Schultz after he returned to the top job in 2008. She led Starbucks to triumph in the usually reviled world of instant coffee with the introduction of VIA in 2009. Now she’s going to run Europe, the Middle East and Africa for the company.”

Entrepreneurs can learn a lot from intrapreneurs who have built thriving brands and products within large, established organizations. Michelle Gass built Frappuccino into a $2 billion brand by taking a clouds down approach to the business and asking her team to think about how big the Frappuccino business could be. She ultimately created a platform with tens of thousands of possible flavor combinations. Next, Gass challenged the status quo by moving Starbucks into instant coffee with VIA. Most recently, she took the helm of Seattle’s Best Coffee and expanded to 50,000 distribution points from 3,000, while cutting 40% of its line of packaged coffees.

Clouds Down: A term l learned while working for Yum! Brands. It implies taking a step back, seeing the big picture and setting expectations high, and then developing the specific milestones to achieve a vision. Large companies often get stuck in cycles of incremental change or “business as usual”. A clouds down strategy can help lead to step-change results.


  • Look for big ideas: She pitted fresh-brewed Starbucks against VIA instant to see if customers could tell the difference.
  • Be disruptive: She concentrated Seattle’s Best’s packaged coffee line to 5 core coffee types and took the packaging from traditional coffee-brown to bright teals, reds, and oranges. “As a small brand you’ve got to be disruptive,” she says.
  • Stay close to the details: “To create something sustainable, you have to be close to the details…As an engineer I use facts and data, but it’s about seeing inside them.”

The Google-Funded Drones That Hunt Illegal Hunters | Fast Company

The Google-Funded Drones That Hunt Illegal Hunters | Fast Company.

“When the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) wanted to fight animal poachers–illegal hunters of wildlife–they decided to bring in an unorthodox weapon: Drones. But these drones were different from the killer Predators of public imagination. Instead, they were unarmed, superlightweight, and users launch them by throwing them into the air–in fact, they are heavily modified model aircraft.”