Archiv für den Monat Mai 2017

Freaks – die wahren Helden – die Disruptoren der neuen Arbeitswelt – die Querdenker als neue Elite

Irgendwie ist der neue Mitarbeiter doch ein Spinner, sichtbar tätowiert oder ein echter Comupter-Nerd? Gewöhnen Sie sich an das Ungewöhnliche, denn laut Experten sind gerade die sogenannten „Freaks“ die besten Führungskräfte und schon bald werden dies auch die deutschen Unternehmen erkennen. Da kann es gut sein, dass Ihr neuer Chef in Kürze irgendwie „anders“ ist. Doch was hat es eigentlich mit den Freaks auf sich und wieso taugen sie besser zur Führungskraft als der 08/15-Mitarbeiter?

Sind Freaks die besseren Führungskräfte?
Traut Euch, anders zu sein

Inhalt
1. Deutsche Unternehmen setzen auf den angepassten Durchschnitt
2. Wonach suchen deutsche Unternehmen ihre Führungskräfte aus?
3. Wer ist eigentlich ein „Freak“?
4. Die Schwächen sind das Problem
5. Wie können Peak Performer integriert werden?
6. Für welche Unternehmen eignen sich die Spiky Leaders?

Deutsche Unternehmen setzen auf den angepassten Durchschnitt

Bislang halten die deutschen Führungsetagen keine großen Überraschungen bereit: Angepasste Anzugträger tummeln sich in den leitenden Positionen, hier und da eine Frau – aber nicht zu viele. Tatsächlich suchen die meisten deutschen Unternehmen für ihre Führungspositionen nach angepassten und leistungswilligen Mitarbeitern. Wieso? Weil Sie kein Risiko darstellen, Beständigkeit versprechen und ein hohes Maß an Zuverlässigkeit. Der Durchschnitt bringt es deshalb im Beruf am weitesten.

Freaks hingegen feiern eher als Selbstständige ihre Erfolge und stellen da schon einmal die gewohnten Marktmechanismen auf den Kopf.

Doch wieso machen sich die deutschen Unternehmen eigentlich nichts aus eben dieser Fähigkeit? Aus den Querdenkern, Risikofreudigen und wahren Genies? Echte Talente und herausragende Stärken, das sollte eine Führungskraft mitbringen. Da sind sich zumindest viele Experten einig…

Wonach suchen deutsche Unternehmen ihre Führungskräfte aus?

Eine bei Statista veröffentlichte Umfrage gibt hierauf wenig überraschende Antworten: Demnach erachten 100 Prozent aller befragten Unternehmen die Kommunikationsfähigkeit als besonders wichtig für eine Führungskraft. 99 Prozent setzen zudem auf eine hohe Motivation, 98 Prozent auf bereits erbrachte Leistungen im Unternehmen.

Statistik: Erachten Sie folgende Eigenschaften bei Führungskräften als wichtig? | Statista
Mehr Statistiken finden Sie bei Statista

Die Personalberaterin Uta von Boyen kennst sich bestens mit dem Thema aus: Nach Allroundern werde gesucht, Beständigkeit und Mittelmaß. Schul- und Hochschulnoten, Assessment-Center und normierte Lebensläufe seien die Auswahlkriterien für neue Mitarbeiter und Führungskräfte müssen in erster Linie leistungsbereit sein. Es ist das Prinzip „Befehl und Gehorsam“, das in vielen Unternehmen in den Führungsetagen ausgeübt wird – welches jedoch eigentlich in der modernen Wirtschaft nichts mehr verloren hätte. Denn in den immer schneller werdenden Zeiten der Globalisierung und Digitalisierung müssen Unternehmen auf neuartige Geschäftsstrategien setzen, um dauerhaft gegen die nunmehr weltweite Konkurrenz bestehen zu können. Und hierfür, so Uta von Boyen, seien gerade Freaks die besseren Führungskräfte.

Wer ist eigentlich ein „Freak“?

Als „Freak“ in diesem Sinne bezeichnen die Experten alle jene Mitarbeiter, die aus dem üblichen Rahmen fallen. Es handelt sich um Querdenker, Menschen mit Spezialbegabungen und ausgeprägter Persönlichkeit. Freaks bringen Unruhe in ein Unternehmen, fungieren als Visionäre und haben häufig Schwierigkeiten damit, sich in die gegebenen Strukturen einzufügen. Sie werden deshalb auch „Peak Performer“ oder „Spiky Leaders“ genannt. Es sind eben jene Menschen, die unangepasst arbeiten, neue Ideen hervorbringen und ebenso herausragende Stärken wie eben auch Schwächen mitbringen.

Die Schwächen sind das Problem

Genau hierin liegt aber das Hauptproblem der Unternehmen mit den Peak Performern: Sie haben Schwächen. Und Schwächen werden in der modernen Arbeitswelt nicht geduldet. Der Sinn steht daher stets nach der möglichen Minimierung der Schwächen anstelle der Förderung von Stärken.

Die scheinbar besten Mitarbeiter sehen die Unternehmen deshalb in angepassten „General Managern“. Ein Prozess, der bereits in den Schulen beginnt, ja mancherorts sogar im Kindergarten oder der Vorschule. Wer aus dem Rahmen fällt, erhält Nachhilfeunterricht oder gilt als schwer erziehbar. Die scheinbaren ADHS-Fälle nehmen immer weiter zu, nur weil ein Kind keine acht Stunden ruhig in der Schulbank sitzt. Wer besondere Begabungen oder originelles Denken mitbringt wird nicht weiter gefördert. Stattdessen wird der Unterricht starr durchgezogen und die Schüler auf die goldene Mitte eingeebnet. Wieso? Weil der Durchschnitt den Weg des geringsten Widerstands bedeutet.

Spiky Leaders hingegen, müssen mit viel Aufwand in ein Unternehmen integriert werden, sollten diese nicht bereits desillusioniert und demotiviert aus der Schul- und Hochschullaufbahn herauskommen. Dabei hat uns die Geschichte immer wieder gelehrt, dass gerade diese Peak Performer einen hohen Wert für die Gesellschaft und Wirtschaft haben. Sie haben in der Vergangenheit gar immer wieder das Überleben der Menschheit gesichert, da sind sich Historiker und Evolutionsbiologen einig. Und hätten Sie Steve Jobs nicht auch zu Beginn seiner Laufbahn als echten Freak wahrgenommen?

Wie können Peak Performer integriert werden?

Das größte Problem darin, die außergewöhnlichen Begabungen der Peak Performer in einem Unternehmen zu nutzen, liegt also in ihrer erfolgreichen Integration in das Unternehmen. Hierfür muss es seine Führungsstrukturen überdenken und neue Konzepte erstellen. Spiky Leaders funktionieren meist in kleinen Teams am besten, wo sie mit dem angepassten Durchschnitt zusammenarbeiten können. Ein Unternehmen funktioniert nämlich ebenso wenig nur mit „Freaks“ als ganz ohne. Es geht also um eine effiziente Zusammenarbeit zwischen Peak Performer und 08/15-Mitarbeiter. Die Zusammensetzung dieser gemischten Teams ist eine wahre Herausforderung, zumal die Unangepassten häufig menschlich schwierig sind, als „stachelig“ wahrgenommen werden. Dadurch bringen sie aber eine positive Dynamik in jedes Team und eine produktivere Arbeitsatmosphäre. Dynamiken bringen schließlich Ergebnisse hervor – Stillstand nicht. Es gilt also, die Organisationsform eines Unternehmens der Integration von Peak Performern anzupassen:

  • Feste Strukturen müssen aufgelockert werden.
  • Der Spiky Leader muss individuelle Freiräume genießen.
  • Seine Talente und Stärken müssen effizient gefördert und gezielt eingesetzt werden.
  • Die Schwächen der Peak Performer gilt es frühzeitig aufzufangen.

Für welche Unternehmen eignen sich die Spiky Leaders?

Es geht nun nicht darum, dass jedes Unternehmen in jedem Team mindestens einen Spiky Leader besetzt. Im Gegenteil: Ob ein Peak Performer für Ihr Unternehmen geeignet ist, wer, wie viele und in welcher Position, das hängt von Ihrer jeweiligen Organisationsform sowie der strategischen Ausrichtung des Unternehmens ab. Häufig sind Peak Performer gerade in in geringer Anzahl auf wichtigen Schlüsselpositionen gut besetzt. Zudem sollte stets nur höchstens ein „Freak“ pro Team eingesetzt werden. Allerdings ist die Akzeptanz der Peak Performer in einem Team nicht immer einfach und sie stellen damit ein hohes Risiko dar. Ein Risiko, welches bislang nur die wenigsten Unternehmen bereit sind einzugehen. Wer jedoch bereits jetzt begreift, dass ganzheitliche Führung in Zukunft auch auf Querdenker nicht verzichten kann, ist der Konkurrenz in der Globalisierung einen großen Schritt voraus.

Was denken Sie von den Peak Performern? Haben Sie bereits Erfahrungen mit ihnen gemacht oder würden Sie sich vielleicht sogar selbst als einen solchen bezeichnen? Es ist und bleibt ein spannendes Thema…

https://arbeits-abc.de/querdenker-als-fuehrungskraft

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Martin Casado who sold his startup for $1.26 billion tells grads to ‚get good at‘ failure

Martin Casado is a legend in his corner of the tech world for inventing a technology that radically alters the way computer networks are built.

He invented the tech while he was a doctoral student at Stanford. He took that invention and two of the professors advising him, Nick McKeown from Stanford and Scott Shenker from the University of California, Berkeley — legends in their own right — and founded a startup. It was called Nicira, and it was backed by venture capitalists like Andreessen Horowitz’s a16z.

„Nicira launched into the networking industry like a cannonball hitting placid water,“ Marc Andreessen, the founder of a16z, wrote of Nicira and of Casado. That’s true.

The company was quietly founded in 2007 but didn’t officially launch until early 2012. Five months later, it sold to VMware for a stunning $1.26 billion. And the network industry has never been the same.

After staying with VMware for a few years, Casado left in early 2016 to become a VC with a16z. But the interesting thing is that he doesn’t think of himself as a runaway success, but as someone who got good at failure.

Or so he told the 2017 graduating class at his first alma mater, Northern Arizona University, where he spoke after receiving an honorary doctorate on May 13.

„When I was standing where you are, I wanted to be the world’s best computational physicist,“ Casado told the crowd. „And soon after, I wanted to be the world’s foremost cyber-policy expert. But instead, I went to grad school, and then I wanted to be the world’s best academic. And I certainly didn’t accomplish that.“

He added: „I only found computer science because I couldn’t hack it as a physicist and then I failed as a microbiology student. I made many, many missteps as the first-time founder of a company.“

Casado’s speech was short, sweet, funny, and profound.

Casado is considered the father of SDN.VMware

I heard it because I was in the audience that day, proudly watching my daughter graduate with a degree in astrophysics. (Notice how I slipped in that motherly brag?) While I’m insanely proud of my kid, I’m also biting my nails over what her degree will lead to.

She doesn’t want to go to grad school right now. And although she knows forms of math that I didn’t even know existed, what kind of career will she have? I don’t know, and neither does she.

But Casado’s speech flipped my view on it. He offered four solid bits of advice to students, which is good advice for anyone, at any age.

1. ‚You’re unlikely to achieve your goals.‘

No one can predict the future, and when you’re on the path to a goal, a better goal „is likely to smack you while you’re looking the other way,“ Casado said, „and you’d be an idiot not to follow it.“

His advice is to „take some fraction of that effort and work on being open to change and to opportunity“ while working toward your goals.

If he hadn’t been open to change in his career, he may never have invented an industry-changing technology.

2. ‚You are going to fail. A lot. It’s inevitable.‘

He suggests that it is failure, not progress, that indicates whether you are living up to your potential.

If you are failing, you are pushing yourself and „not stalling your own progress by hiding,“ he said.

The true skill, then, is „to learn to embrace failure — not only embrace failure, get good at it, and by that I mean get back up, apply what you’ve learned, and hit reset.“

3. ‚No one really knows what contributes to success.‘

Every person is unique, and that means what’s right for another isn’t always right for you. When it comes to advice, listen to the parts that ring true for you and disregard the rest.

„You’re going to take one path out of an infinite number of possibilities,“ Casado said. „And you’re going to navigate it your way.“

4. ‚The universe is a messy place.‘

If there is a secret to life, happiness, and success, it’s this: „The opportunity is hidden in the sloppiness. If you hold too hard to specific ideas of where you want to go, or what the landscape will look like, or what the world will provide you, I can guarantee you’ll be disappointed.“

Here is the full transcript of his speech. The video is below if you’d rather listen.

„Graduates, I am deeply honored to have a few minutes with you. So let me first thank you for the opportunity and your attention.

„Right now, this moment is one of the most significant inflection points in your life. And perhaps not in the way you’d expect. So if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to explain why.

„Getting to this point, this space we’re all sharing right now, has taken a tremendous amount of work and dedication, no doubt. And for that, I applaud you, and you have my deepest respect.

„However, a university education, no matter how windy, is a path with a clear goal. It was challenging, sure. Yet generally the objective was pretty obvious: work hard and get the hell out.

„All of that is about to change.

„Almost two decades ago I was standing where you are now. I was nervous. I was excited. And I was largely over it.

„And so I took that proverbial step. And very quickly, I realized that where I landed was very, very different from where I left.

„It was as if I stepped off of a narrow path and into a city. And unlike my university experience, there was no clear goal. There wasn’t a defined string of classes or tests I had to pass. There was no notion of a start or finish.

„Instead, there was a vast, vast collection of opportunities and perils — infinite routes to infinite locations, and none of which I really understood. You could choose to stop or move at any time with equal chance of benefit or loss.

„And I found that none of my experiences really prepared me to navigate such a wide open space. There were no platitudes, no cliches, no quippy one-liners that provided clear and useful guidance. It wasn’t just about working hard and setting goals. It wasn’t just about perseverance or having a positive attitude. I knew how to do all those things. This new space required something far different.

„So with that backdrop, I’d like to offer you some advice — lessons that no one would be able to put on a motivational poster and keep their job, lessons to keep in mind as you take this next step into the chaos.

„First: You’re unlikely to achieve your goals. Really, it’s very unlikely. When I was standing where you are, I wanted to be the world’s best computational physicist. And soon after, I wanted to be the world’s foremost cyber-policy expert. But instead, I went to grad school, and then I wanted to be the world’s best academic. And I certainly didn’t accomplish that.

„You’re unlikely to achieve your goals. The reason is that you probably don’t realize how many amazing opportunities are out there and how much you’ll enjoy them. You are unlikely to achieve your goals, because a better one is likely to smack you while you’re looking the other way, and you’d be an idiot not to follow it.

„So my guidance to you is as much as you work toward your goals, take some fraction of that effort and work on being open to change and to opportunity.

„Second: You are going to fail. A lot. It’s inevitable. I only found computer science because I couldn’t hack it as a physicist and then I failed as a microbiology student. I made many, many missteps as the first-time founder of a company.

„You are going to fail because you’re going to be navigating a shifting landscape with a lot of things not under your control. You’re going to fail because the goals are going to change or be unclear. You’re going to fail because you’ll start something and realize it’s not what you want to do.

„And here’s the key: Failing will be your only true measure of progress. It’s inevitable. The system you’re about to walk into is simply too dynamic and too poorly defined for you not to.

„And so my guidance to you is to learn to embrace failure — not only embrace failure, get good at it, and by that I mean get back up, apply what you’ve learned, and hit reset.

„Third: No one really knows what contributes to success. Not me. Not some business guru or some pundit on the news. No one. And that’s particularly true for your success — yours. Here’s the reality: Every one of you is a beautiful collection of amazing qualities and strengths. Unique in all the universe you. And you’re going to take one path out of an infinite number of possibilities. And you’re going to navigate it your way.

„So right here, I grant you permission to summarily ignore the nonsense of others. Take advice as input, sure, but check it against your absolutely unique perspective and qualities to bring to a problem.

„You do you, boo.

„For what it’s worth, of all the advice I’ve given you, this last request will probably be the most difficult. I know you can work hard. I know you’re all smart and capable and resourceful. But I don’t know how well you know yourself. I certainly didn’t when I graduated. And it took a lot of inquiry and a lot of failure and a lot of false starts to begin to figure it out.

„In the words of Dr. Seuss, that he actually didn’t write and I totally made up, ‚You can’t do you, boo, if you don’t know you.‘

„OK, let me take a step back. Here’s where all of this is leading.

„The universe is a messy place. And the real trick going forward is to acknowledge that and to embrace it. The opportunity is hidden in the sloppiness. If you hold too hard to specific ideas of where you want to go, or what the landscape will look like, or what the world will provide you, I can guarantee you’ll be disappointed.

„And it’s exactly because the beauty is in the chaos. What have I asked of you?

One, focus on being open to change, because although you’re all beautiful and bright and creative individuals, the opportunities are for more wondrous than you can possibly conceive.

„Two, fail. It’s the only way you know that you’re riding the chaos and are not stalling your own progress by hiding.

„Three, no one knows what’s best for you, because really, it’s unknowable. So ignore the pundits and do it your way.

„And to do that, know yourself. Because really, this journey is for you. And your priorities. And for those you care about. With that, I’ll leave you with a quote, and this one I didn’t make up.

„It’s from the Ashtavakra Gita:

Let the waves of the universe
rise and fall as they will.
You have nothing to gain or lose.
You are the ocean.

„Thank you very much, and again, many congratulations.“

http://www.businessinsider.de/vc-martin-casado-advice-grads-get-good-at-failure-2017-5

More Android phones are using encryption and lock screen security than ever before

Many often have a false sense of just how secure their private data is on their devices — that is, if they’re thinking about it at all. Your average smartphone user just wants to access the apps and people they care about, and not worry about security.

That’s why it was extremely encouraging to hear some of the security metrics announced at Google I/O 2017. For devices running Android Nougat, roughly 80% of users are running them fully encrypted. At the same time, about 70% of Nougat devices are using a secure lock screen of some form.

Android encryption adoptionAndroid lock screen adoption

That 80% encryption number isn’t amazingly surprising when you remember that Nougat has full-device encryption turned on by default, but that number also includes devices that were upgraded from Marshmallow, which didn’t have default encryption. Devices running on Marshmallow have a device encryption rate of just 25%, though, so this is a massive improvement. And the best part about Google’s insistence on default encryption is that eventually older devices will be replaced by those running Nougat or later out of the box, meaning this encryption rate could get very close to 100%.

The default settings are immensely important.

Full-device encryption is particularly effective when paired with a secure lock screen, and Google’s metrics showing 70% adoption in this regard definitely needs some work. It’s a small increase from the roughly 60% secure lock screen rate of Marshmallow phones but a decent jump from the sub-50% rate of devices running Lollipop. The most interesting aspect of these numbers to my eyes is that having a fingerprint sensor on the device doesn’t signal a very large increase in adoption — perhaps just a five percentage point jump. On one hand it’s great to see people using secured lock screens even when they don’t have something as convenient as a fingerprint sensor, but then again I’d expect the simplicity of that sensor to help adoption more than these numbers show.

The trend is heading in the right direction in both of these metrics, and that’s a great sign despite the fact that secure lock screens show a slower growth rate. The closer we get both of these numbers to 100%, the better.

http://www.androidcentral.com/more-android-phones-are-using-encryption-and-lock-screen-security-eve

NEXT LIST 2017 – 20 TECH VISIONARIES WHO ARE CREATING THE FUTURE

NEXT LIST 2017

20 TECH VISIONARIES WHO ARE CREATING THE FUTURE by WIRED staff

https://www.wired.com/2017/04/20-people-creating-future-next-list-2017/

MICROSOFT WILL BUILD computers even more sleek and beautiful than Apple’s. Robots will 3-D-print cool shoes that are personalized just for you. (And you’ll get them in just a few short days.) Neural networks will take over medical diagnostics, and Snapchat will try to take over the entire world. The women and men in these pages are the technical, creative, idealistic visionaries who are bringing the future to your doorstep. You might not recognize their names—they’re too busy working to court the spotlight—but you’ll soon hear about them a lot. They represent the best of what’s next.

Put Humans First, Code Second

Parisa Tabriz

Browser Boss | Google Chrome

As head of security for Google Chrome, Parisa Tabriz has spent four years focusing on a vulnerability so widespread, most engineers act as if it doesn’t exist: humanity. She has pushed her 52-person team to grapple with problems once written off as “user errors.” They’ve made key changes in how the browser communicates with people, rewriting Chrome’s warnings about insecure network connections at a sixth-grade reading level. Rather than depending on users to spot phishing schemes, the team is exploring machine-­learning tools to automatically detect them. And they’re starting to mark sites as “not secure” if they don’t use HTTPS encryption, pressuring the web to secure itself. “We’ve been accused of being paternalistic, but we’re in a position to protect people,” she says. “The goal isn’t to solve math problems. It’s to keep humans safe.” Tabriz, whose father is Iranian, has also made a point of hiring engineers from other countries—like Iran—where state internet surveillance is an oppressive, everyday concern. “You can’t keep people safe if you don’t understand those human challenges around the world.” —Andy Greenberg

Wall Street Can Run on Collaboration, Not Competition

Richard Craib

Founder | Numerai

Wall Street is capitalism at its fiercest. But Richard Craib believes it can also be a place for friendly collaborations. His hedge fund, San Francisco–based ­Numerai, relies on artificially intelligent algorithms to handle all trades. But the 29-year-old South African mathematician doesn’t build these algorithms himself. Instead, his fund crowdsources them from thousands of anonymous data scientists who vie for bitcoin rewards by building the most successful trading models. And that isn’t even the strangest part.

Ultimately, Craib doesn’t want these data scientists to get overly competitive. If only the best modelers win, they have little incentive to recruit fresh talent, which could dilute their rewards. Competitors’ self-­interest winds up at odds with getting the best minds, no matter who they are, working to improve the fund. To encourage cooperation, Craib developed Numer­aire, a kind of digital currency that rewards everyone when the fund does well. Data scientists bet Numer­aire on algorithms they think will succeed. When the models work, Numer­aire’s value goes up for everyone. “I don’t want to build a company or a startup or even a hedge fund,” Craib says. “I want to build a country—a place where everyone is working openly toward the same end.” —­Cade Metz

Microsoft Will Outdesign Apple

Kait Schoeck

Industrial Designer | Microsoft

Kait Schoeck wasn’t really supposed to end up at Micro­soft. She had enrolled at the Rhode Island School of Design in 2009 with plans to be a painter, or maybe an illustrator. “I didn’t know industrial design actually existed,” she says. That changed in school, where she switched majors and even­tually caught Microsoft’s attention. The company liked her unusual portfolio—there wasn’t much in it about computers. Now she’s one of the designers working on Microsoft’s Surface products, helping the com­pany achieve what for decades has seemed impossible: outdesigning Apple. Because Schoeck and her team aren’t bogged down by decades of PC-­design baggage, they freely break with convention. And because their desks are a few feet from a machine shop, they can build whatever they dream up. “Being able to hold the products we make—that’s when you really know what works,” Schoeck says. Early in her time at Microsoft, she co­invented the rolling hinge that makes the detachable Surface Book possible; her team has also found ways to make touchscreen laptops feel natural, to build tablets that really can replace your laptop, and to turn the old-school desktop PC into something more like a drawing table. Thanks to designers like Schoeck, Micro­soft’s machines aren’t just brainy anymore—they’re beautiful too. —David Pierce

Frugal Science Will Curb Disease

Manu Prakash

Founder | Foldscope Instruments

While visiting rabies clinics in India and Thailand, Manu Prakash made a damning realization: In remote villages, traditional microscopes are useless. Cumbersome to carry and expensive to maintain, the finely tuned machines are often relegated to a dusty lab corner while medical providers diagnose and treat patients in the field. So the Stanford bio­engineer set out to build what he calls “the pencil of micro­scopy”—a high-­performing tool that’s lightweight, ­durable, and cheap. In 2014 his lab unveiled the Foldscope, an origami-like paper microscope that magnifies objects up to 2,000 times but costs less than $1 to produce. “We quickly realized that writing scientific papers about it wasn’t good enough,” Prakash says. He turned his lab into a mini Foldscope factory, giving away microscopes to anyone who asked. Within a year, the lab had shipped 50,000 of them to users in 135 countries, from Mongolia to rural Montana; this year it aims to donate 1 million. An eager army of DIY scientists has used the tool to identify fake drugs, detect diseased crops, spot counter­feit currency, and more. Earlier this year, Prakash’s lab introduced the Paperfuge, a 20-cent centri­fuge inspired by an ancient spinning toy, which can be used to diagnose diseases like malaria. Prakash’s cheap, cleverly designed devices prove that when it comes to public health problems, the high tech (high-cost) solution isn’t always the best fix. Consider his lab’s latest achievement, a method of identifying mosquito species by recording their wing beats. The apparatus required? A flip phone. —Lauren Murrow

TV Ad Dollars Will Get Snapped Up

Jeff Lucas

VP and Global Head of Sales | Snap

In March, Snap’s public stock offering became the third-largest tech IPO of all time, raising $3.4 billion. Now it just needs to make money. As of January 2017, the six-year-old multi­media app had lost $1.2 billion, nearly half of that in 2016 alone. Its growth rate is slowing too: After averaging more than 15 million new daily users in each of the first three quarters of 2016, it added just 5 million in the fourth quarter. So last summer, the company poached media industry veteran Jeff Lucas, former head of sales at Viacom. In the wake of Snap’s IPO, he’s been tasked with backing up the brand’s billion-dollar hype with measurable profits. To do that, he’ll need to ward off copycat competitors like Insta­gram’s Stories and WhatsApp’s Status—direct descendants of Snapchat Stories, a series of snaps strung together chrono­logically—and lure ad spending away from Facebook and TV networks. He’s reportedly in talks with marketing agencies like Publicis Groupe, WPP, and Omnicom Group to land deals of $100 million to $200 million. In a crowded industry competing for advertising dollars, Lucas will be instrumental in getting those gatekeepers to open their coffers for Snap. —Davey Alba

SOURCE: EMARKETER

Encryption Alone Is Not Enough

John Brooks

Programmer | Ricochet

Thanks to messaging services like WhatsApp, Signal, and Apple’s iMessage, end-to-end encryption isn’t just for spies and cypherpunks anymore; it’s become nearly as standard as emoji. But sometimes an unbroken channel of encryption between sender and receiver isn’t enough. Sure, it hides the content of messages, but it doesn’t conceal the identities of who’s writing to whom—metadata that can reveal, say, the membership of an organization or a journalist’s web of sources. John Brooks, a 25-year-old middle school dropout, has created an app that may represent the next generation of secret-sharing tools: ones that promise to hide not just your words but also the social graph of your connections.

His chat app, called Ricochet, builds on a feature of the anonymity software Tor that’s rendered sites on the dark web untraceable and anonymous for years. But instead of cloaking web destinations, Ricochet applies those stealth features to your PC: It turns your computer into a piece of the darknet. And unlike almost all other messaging apps, Ricochet allows conversations to travel from the sender’s computer to the recipient’s without ever passing through a central server that can track the data or metadata of users’ communications. “There’s no record in the cloud somewhere that you ever used it,” Brooks says. “It’s all mixed in with everything else happening in Tor. You’re invisible among the crowd.” And when invisibility is an option, plain old encryption starts to feel awfully revealing. —­Andy Greenberg

Silicon Valley Can Spread the Wealth

Leslie Miley

President, West Coast | ­Venture for America

Silicon Valley generates astronomical levels of wealth. But you’d be hard-pressed to find the spoils of the tech industry extending far beyond the Bay Area, much less to ­Middle America. Leslie Miley wants to change that. Early this year he left his job as a director of engineering at Slack to launch an executive-­in-residence program at Venture for America. The project is designed to foster the building of tech businesses in emerging markets like Detroit and Baltimore. Starting this September, the residency will place Silicon Valley execs in yearlong stints in several of the program’s 18 innovation hubs, where they’ll advise area startups. The idea is that having well-connected leaders in such places may give local talent ties to Silicon Valley and inspire startups to set up shop in those cities. According to Miley, the program was fueled by industry-­wide anxiety following the 2016 election. “Tech enabled people to stay in their echo chambers,” Miley says. “We’re partially responsible.” Not just by building non-­inclusive platforms, he says, but by overlooking large swaths of the country in the hunt for talent. Davey Alba

Our Robots Are Powered by Poets and Musicians

Beth Holmes, Farah Houston, Michelle Riggen-­Ransom

HOLMES Knowledge Manager | Alexa Information team

HOUSTON Senior Manager | Alexa Personality team

RIGGEN-­RANSOM Managing Editor | Alexa Personality team

Behind your high tech digital assistant is a band of liberal arts majors. A trio of women shape the personality of Amazon’s Alexa, the AI-powered device used by tens of millions of consumers worldwide: Michelle Riggen-­Ransom, who has an MFA in creative writing, composes the bot’s raw responses; Farah Houston, a psychology grad specializing in personality science, ensures that those responses dovetail with customers’ expectations; and Beth Holmes, a mathematician with expertise in natural language processing, decides which current events are woven into Alexa’s vocabulary, from the Super Bowl to the Oscars. “The commonality is that most of us have been writers and have had to express humor in writing,” Houston says. Riggen-­Ransom oversees a group of playwrights, poets, fiction authors, and musicians who complete weekly writing exercises that are incorporated into Alexa’s persona. (The bot’s disposition is broadly defined in a “personality document,” which informs the group’s responses.) The content is then workshopped among the team; much of it ends up on the cutting room floor. Alexa’s temperament can swing from practical and direct to whimsical and jokey. The art is in striking the right balance, especially when it comes to addressing sensitive topics. “Our overall approach when talking to people about politics, sex, or religion has been to divert with humor,” Houston says. But thanks in part to her female-led team, the bot won’t stand for insults. “We work hard to always portray Alexa as confident and empowered,” Houston says. It takes a village to raise a fake lady. —­Davey Alba

Hard Data Can Improve Diversity

Laura I. Gómez

Founder | Atipica

Three years ago, Laura Gómez was participating in yet another diversity-in-tech panel, alongside representatives from Facebook and ­Google, when she snapped. “This is not a meritocracy, and we all know it,” the Latina entrepreneur announced. “This is cronyism. A Googler gets hired by Twitter, who gets hired by Facebook. Everyone is appointing their friends to positions of authority.” (As someone who has worked at Twitter, YouTube, and ­Google, she should know.) The breakthrough inspired Gómez to found Atipica, a recruiting software company that sorts job applicants solely by their skill set. That policy may seem obvious, but recruiters are prone to pattern-­matching in accordance with previous hires—giving preference to, say, Stanford-schooled ­Google engineers. Atipica isn’t designed to shame tech CEOs about their uber-white open offices; rather, it presents hard data, judgment-free. The company’s software—which draws on information from public, industry, and internal sources—reveals the type of person most likely to apply for a job, analyzes hiring patterns, and quantifies the likelihood that certain kinds of candidates will accept job offers. It also resurfaces diverse candidates for new job postings they’re qualified for, a strategy that has led thousands of applicants to be recontacted. Last fall, Atipica raised $2 million from True Ventures, Kapor Capital, Precursor Ventures, and others. For Gómez, a Mexican immigrant who was undocumented until the age of 18, the work is personal. “My mother was a nanny and a housekeeper for people in Silicon Valley,” she says. “My voice is the voice of immigrants.” Her company’s success shows that the struggle to diversify tech will be won not by indignant tweetstorms but by data. —Lauren Murrow

Music Will Leave the Studio Behind

Steve Lacy

Musician

Most musicians work in studios, with engineers and producers and dozens of contributors. Steve Lacy works in hotel rooms. Or in his car. One time at a barbershop. Anywhere inspiration strikes, really. And with every unconventional session, Lacy’s proving to the industry that good music doesn’t have to be sparkling and hyperproduced. He dropped his first official solo material in February, a series of songs (he won’t call it an album) made entirely in GarageBand. Lacy plugs his guitar into his iPhone’s Lightning port and sings right into the mic. The whole thing’s a bit shticky, sure, but the point is to show people that the tools you have don’t really matter. He’s no musical lightweight, though. Just 18, he’s already a sought-after producer, making beats with the likes of J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar. Lacy’s own style is a little bit pop, a little bit soul, and a little bit R&B. He calls it Plaid, because it’s a lot of funky patterns you can’t quite imagine together—but somehow it all works. Even he doesn’t always understand why, but he knows it does. Kendrick Lamar told him so. —David Pierce

SOURCE: RIAA

Microbiology Gets a Little Intelligent Design

Christina Agapakis

Creative Director | Ginkgo Bioworks

For a biologist, Christina Agapakis has an unusual role. At Ginkgo Bioworks, a Boston biotech firm that tweaks yeast and bacteria to create custom organisms for everything from fermentation to cosmetics, Agapakis is a bridge between the technical and creative sides of the business. She works with clients like food conglomerates to figure out how they can use engineered microbes to make their products better, cheaper, and more sustainable. Recently, French perfumer Robertet enlisted Ginkgo’s organism designers to create a custom yeast that could replicate the smell of rose oil. To do that, the designers inserted the scent-­producing genes from roses into yeast, which produced floral-­smelling compounds—no expensive rose petals necessary. Agapakis then worked with the company’s perfumers to develop new fragrances using this novel substance. “A lot of what I do is think about what this new technology can enable creatively,” she says. Biotech companies are learning that success requires more than good science—it takes imaginative thinking too. —Liz Stinson

Tech Workers, Not CEOs, Will Drive Real, Positive Change

Maciej Ceglowski

Founder | Pinboard

A tweet by @Pinboard reads, “Silicon Valley lemon­ade stand: 30 employees, $45 million in funding, sells $9 glasses of lemonade while illegally blocking sidewalk.” The account belongs to a bookmarking site founded by Polish-born web developer Maciej Ceglowski. Though he established the handle in 2009 intending to offer product support, Ceglowski now uses the account to gleefully skewer Silicon Valley to 38,700 Twitter followers. Since the presidential election, the developer’s criticism of his own industry has taken a more trenchant tone, energizing a new wave of tech activists. (On Facebook’s refusal to cut ties with Trump supporter Peter Thiel, he tweeted: “Facebook has a board member who heard credible accusations of sexual assault and threw $1.25M at the perpetrator. That requires comment.”) In December, thousands of tech employees signed an @Pinboard-championed pledge at Neveragain.tech, refusing to utilize their companies’ user data to build a Muslim registry. Last year, Ceglowski founded Tech Solidarity, a national group that meets to devise methods of organizing. The effort has become high-profile enough that even C-suite execs, like Facebook’s chief security officer, Alex Stamos, now attend. For all his trademark snark, Ceglowski maintains that his goal is to foster a more conscientious tech indus­try. He hopes that Tech Solidarity can develop an industry-wide code of ethics in the coming months—“move fast and break things” needs an update, he says—and eventually lead employees to unionize. He believes the best way to exert influence over powerful tech companies is from the inside out: by empowering their workers. —Davey Alba

China Will Lead the Tech Industry

Connie Chan

Partner | Andreessen Horowitz

Connie Chan has a master’s degree in engineering from Stanford, where her classmates were Facebook’s future first employees. She thought that she knew what tech’s leading edge looked like. Then she went to China and discovered she had no idea. On massively popular messaging apps like WeChat, people did way more than just talk. They got marriage licenses and birth certificates, paid utilities and traffic tickets, even had drugs delivered—all in-app. Tech companies in the US, she realized, could no longer take it for granted that they led while the world followed; the stereo­type that China’s tech companies are just copycats is obsolete. “If you study Chinese products, you can get inspiration,” Chan says. As a partner at Andreessen Horowitz, she now specializes in helping American startups understand just how much they have to learn as China’s tech industry races ahead of the US in everything from messaging to livestreaming (now a $5 billion market). No matter the protectionist rhetoric coming from the Trump administration, US tech firms see billions of dollars to be made in China, and vice versa. As these two financial giants play overseas footsie, Chan acts as a facilitator. “I spend so much time teaching people what they can’t see,” she says. It won’t stay invisible for long. —Marcus Wohlsen

SOURCES: RHODIUM GROUP; 2016 U.S. DATA: XINHUA NEWS AGENCY

Need Help Choosing a Wine? There’s a DNA-Based App for That.

James Lu

Senior VP of Applied Genomics | Helix

Advances in genetic sequencing mean that labs can now—quickly and cheaply—read millions of letters of DNA in a single gob of spit. Genomics researcher James Lu and his team at Helix (buoyed by $100 million in funding led by Illumina, the largest maker of DNA sequencers) are harnessing that information so you’ll be able to learn a lot more about yourself. How? There’s an app for that. First Helix will sequence and store your entire exome—every letter of the 22,000 genes that code for proteins in your body. (The technology uncovers much more data than genotyping, the process used by companies like 23andMe, which searches only for specific markers.) Then Helix partners will create apps that analyze everything from your cancer risk to, they say, your wine preferences, ranging from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars a pop. “Where one person may be interested in inherited diseases, someone else cares about fitness or nutrition,” Lu says. “We work with developers to provide better products and context for your genetic information.” Helix’s first partners include medical groups like the Mayo Clinic and New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital, which are developing genetic-education and health-­related apps, and National Geographic, which offers an app that uncovers your ancestors’ locations and migration patterns going back 200,000 years. Lu imagines future collaborations with, say, a travel service that plans your vacation itinerary based on your genealogy or a food delivery service that tailors menus to your metabolic profile. The project opens new markets for genetic research—and entirely new avenues of self-absorption for the selfie generation. —Lauren Murrow

SOURCE: NATIONAL HUMAN GENOME RESEARCH INSTITUTE

Techies Should Serve Their Country

Matt Cutts

Acting Administrator | United States Digital Service

Matt Cutts could easily have left his job at the US Digital Service after Inauguration Day—as many other Obama staffers did. His wife wasn’t in Washington, and neither was his main gig as Google’s chief spam fighter. But when the time came, he couldn’t walk away. “My heart says USDS,” he wrote to his wife, who eventually joined him in DC.

As a member of the govern­ment’s tech task force, Cutts oversaw a team that worked on an online portal for veterans. Had he quit in January, he wouldn’t have seen two USDS initiatives—services for the Pentagon and the Army—through to completion. “The organization deserves to have someone who can help preserve its mission,” Cutts says. It also needs someone who can convince Silicon Valley types that managing the president’s Twitter feed isn’t the only tech job in government. Cutts, who avoids talking politics, has begun recruiting friends in the industry, telling them that no matter whom they voted for, “once you see the sorts of issues you can tackle here, it tends to be pretty addictive.” And you really can change the world (slowly). —Issie Lapowsky

Robots Will Make Fast Fashion Even Faster

Gerd Manz

VP of Future Team | Adidas

Cookie-cutter kicks aren’t good enough for Gen Z sneaker­heads. They want custom­ization, and they want it fast. “They get annoyed if it takes three seconds to download an app,” says industrial engineer Gerd Manz, who oversees technology innovation at Adidas. So he is heading up the company’s ambitious new manufacturing facilities—pointedly dubbed Speedfactories—staffed not by humans but by robots. The sportswear giant will start production in two Speedfactories this year, one in Ansbach, Germany, and another in Atlanta, each eventually capable of churning out 500,000 pairs of shoes a year, including one-of-a-kind designs. Thanks to tech like automated 3-D printing, robotic cutting, and computerized knitting, a shoe that today might spend 18 months in the development and manufacturing pipeline will soon be made from scratch in a matter of hours. And though the Speedfactories will initially be tasked with limited-edition runs, Manz, a sort of sneaker Willy Wonka, predicts that the complexes will ulti­mately produce fully customizable shoes. (You’ll even be able to watch a video of your own pair being made.) “It doesn’t matter to the Speedfactory manufacturing line if we make one or 1,000 of a product,” Manz says. The robot factories of the future will fulfill consumers’ desires: It’s hyper-­personalization at a breakneck pace. —Lauren Murrow

Artificial Intelligence Will Help Doctors Do Their Jobs Better

Lily Peng

Product Manager | Google Brain

In 2012, Google built an artificial intelligence system that could recognize cats in YouTube videos. The experiment may have seemed frivolous, but now Lily Peng is applying some of the same techniques to address a far more serious problem. She and her colleagues are using neural networks—complex mathematical systems for identifying patterns in data—to recognize diabetic retino­pathy, a leading cause of blindness among US adults.

Inside Google Brain, the company’s central AI lab, Peng is feeding thousands of retinal scans into neural networks and teaching them to “see” tiny hemorrhages and other lesions that are early warning signs of retinopathy. “This lets us identify the ­people who are at the highest risk and get them treatment soon rather than later,” says Peng, an MD herself who also has a PhD in bio­engineering.

She’s not out to replace doctors—the hope is that the system will eventually help overworked physicians in poorer parts of the world examine far more patients, far more quickly.

At hospitals in India, Peng is already running clinical trials in which her AI analyzes patients’ eye scans. In the future, doctors could work with AI to examine x-rays and MRIs to detect all sorts of ailments. “We want to increase access to care everywhere,” she says. By sharing the workload, machines can help make that possible. —Cade Metz

SOURCE: INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF ROBOTICS

Don’t wanna Cry? Use Linux 

Don’t wanna Cry? Use Linux. Life is too short to reboot. 

So far, over 213,000 computers across 99 countries around the world have been infected, and the infection is still rising even hours after the kill switch was triggered by the 22-years-old British security researcher behind the twitter handle ‚MalwareTech.‘

For those unaware, WannaCry is an insanely fast-spreading ransomware malware that leverages a Windows SMB exploit to remotely target a computer running on unpatched or unsupported versions of Windows.

So far, Criminals behind WannaCry Ransomware have received nearly 100 payments from victims, total 15 Bitcoins, equals to USD $26,090.


Once infected, WannaCry also scans for other vulnerable computers connected to the same network, as well scans random hosts on the wider Internet, to spread quickly.

The SMB exploit, currently being used by WannaCry, has been identified as EternalBlue, a collection of hacking tools allegedly created by the NSA and then subsequently dumped by a hacking group calling itself „The Shadow Brokers“ over a month ago.

„If NSA had privately disclosed the flaw used to attack hospitals when they *found* it, not when they lost it, this may not have happened,“ NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden says.

http://thehackernews.com/2017/05/wannacry-ransomware-cyber-attack.html