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Top Ten Geek Week Sneak Peeks – Part 2

March 10, 2012

Today: The GeekWire Summit

Startup technology news site GeekWire held its first birthday party on March 7 with the GeekWire Summit. Speakers included former Microsoft Chief Software Engineer and Cocomo co-founder Ray Ozzie, former Swype CEO Mike McSherry, Hulu CTO Richard Tom, T-Mobile CMO Cole Brodman, Rhapsody President Jon Irwin, venture capitalist/serial founder Oren Etzioni and other great technology minds. Nothing was focused on FinTech per se, but nonetheless here are some highlights and potential implications on the intersection of leadership, advice and technology in financial services:

“How do large companies innovate? They buy small companies.”

Oren Etzioni

  1. On the rise of social collaboration in the enterprise, Ray Ozzie paraphrased Ethan Zuckerman (who also has a lot of interesting things to say about how we tend to interact with people who are most like us, but that’s another post) in describing the “scopes of voice” as public/private/secret/self :“I think when you get into enterprise and business scenarios, there are some organizations where speaking publicly in a public voice is very useful. Professional services firms promote an internal culture where speaking openly and being known as the professional who knows something about something works a lot better than certain manufacturing company, where the internal norms might be different in terms of secrecy and confidentiality.”  There is still lots of opportunity, but also lots of work to do, since only 27% of financial professionals use LinkedIn, and less than 4% use any other social media methods at all.
  2. Do you think that building a massive base of clients/users/followers is in direct conflict with customizing your messages to be relevant individual users or subgroups? Consider that Hulu  has 1.4 BILLION ad impressions per month, but they offer some innovative ways for users to customize their ad content. Ad Selector allows viewers a choice of three ads from one brand or one ad from a selection of three different brands. Ad Swap allows viewers to find ads that are most relevant.
  3. Great discussion on the state of mobile technology. All on the panel had praise for the Windows Phone platform, but noted that they have a long way to go with a 4.4% market share to Android’s 49% and Apple’s 30%. (IMHO, I think that RIM’s enterprise-centric 15% share is the most vulnerable to Windows, and it’s already down 2% in the last three months.) Former Swype CEO Mike McSherry said that Apple’s Siri natural speech style will help improve text entry over time too. This evolution to more natural interfaces and input styles was also noted at Micosoft Research on the prior day.
  4. Startup investor and advisor Hadi Partovi noted that the cost of sequencing the human genome has gone from $1 billion to $1,000, and predicts it is heading to $100. If that can be democratized, how naive are we about “big finance”?
  5. Facebook’s Director of Engineering Jocelyn Goldfein said that the company rolled out the new Timeline with a team the size of a startup. Facebook video chat? One guy. In Seattle. Although, that may be taking the lean approach a bit too far. (As someone retorted on Twitter “That explains a lot.”) Still– how many consultant engagements, project managers and steering committee meetings do we need to make meaningful change in our business?

“It’s not enough to encourage employees to innovate.

You have to protect them from the cost of failure.”

– Jocelyn Goldfein, Facebook

(P.S. – I live tweeted my new startup idea from the conference: Embedded QR codes in public carpeting. Remember, I get a 20% Founders Fee.)

Yesterday: Microsoft Research TechFest 2012

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