The Secret of Google X

Sergey“All politics is local,” said House Speaker Tipp O’Neill, meaning that every politician has to consider the effect that his or her positions will have on voters. What makes perfect sense on a national stage might be a disaster back in the district, where the actual voters live. And so it is, too, with big companies, where local impact is sometimes more important than national or international. Sometimes, in fact, companies can be completely re-routed solely to please or affect a single executive. I believe we are seeing precisely that right now at Google concerning Google X.

Google X is that division of the search giant responsible for self-driving cars, Google Glass, and […]

Bill Gates and the non-prediction prediction

bill-gates-steve-ballmer-microsoftFollowing my #1 prediction yesterday of dire consequences in 2014 for Microsoft some readers challenged me to say what should happen this year in Redmond to right the ship. Is it even possible? So here’s my answer which isn’t in the form of a prediction because I doubt that it will actually happen. But if it actually does come to pass, well then I told you so.

At this point in Microsoft’s history the only CEO who could follow Steve Ballmer and be more or less guaranteed to be successful is Bill Gates. I think Bill should take back his old job for awhile.

This line of thinking was suggested to me, by the way, […]

A Tree Falls in Reston

yayaThere’s an adage I’ve heard repeated many times that on their deathbed nobody ever wished they had spent more time at work. Well last week right after telling me from memory her Social Security number and less than 24 hours before her final breath, my Mom did just that.

“I so enjoyed my career at the Bureau of Labor Statistics,” she said. “I wish I had worked there longer.”

My Mom, an economist and librarian who died on New Year’s Day, was a nerd.

She might not have identified herself as such, but she was definitely a nerd.

This lady took no prisoners. Ideas and words were important to her. Mastering concepts, too. At her dinner table you had […]

Advice 5 cents: The role of mentoring in Silicon Valley

skolkovocapThis past weekend I was invited to spend an hour talking about Silicon Valley business with a group of MBA students from Russia. They were on a junket to Palo Alto from the Moscow School of Management Skolkovo. I did my thing, insulting as many people and companies as possible, the students listened politely, and at the end there were a few questions, though not nearly as many as I had hoped for. If you’ve ever heard one of my presentations the most fun tends to take place during the Q&A. That’s because I can’t know in advance what a group really cares about but in the Q&A they can tell me and […]

Ashton Kutcher’s Steve Jobs somehow misses the whole point

steve:ashtonWhile Mary Alyce and the boys were in Theater 7 this weekend watching Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (“Needs more monsters,” says Fallon, age 7) I was in Theater 2 watching Jobs, the Ashton Kutcher film about Steve Jobs (“Has enough monsters,” says Bob, age 60).

I know the Jobs story fairly well having, well, lived some of it, but people have been asking me about the film so I thought I should check it out. Critics have not been kind and Steve Wozniak said he wouldn’t recommend it. I can see why.

The film is beautifully shot and Kutcher’s portrayal of Jobs, while not spot-on, is pretty darned good. He certainly has the look down and […]