Scientists at Oak Ridge National Lab are finding ways to revolutionize dryers. Their technology will enable dryers to get rid of the moisture in your clothes, without using heat.
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Some of the biggest names in tech are known for dropping out of the best colleges in the US.
Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs all left school before graduation to launch companies. Peter Thiel, also a college dropout, has given millions to young entrepreneurs willing to pursue their startups dreams instead of a diploma. These successes helped popularize the belief that dropping out of college can be a shortcut to success in Silicon Valley (though that’s often not the case.)
That hasn’t stopped one university from broadening its offerings for budding entrepreneurs.
A new program at the University of California, Berkeley, wants to launch future tech leaders by teaching the wide variety of skills required of them in the real world. The Management, Entrepreneurship, & Technology (MET) Program will provide students with dual degrees in business and engineering in four years, in the hopes of giving graduates a command of leadership and technology skills and putting them on an accelerated path to CEO.
In the fall of 2017, Berkeley will enroll about 30 students in the inaugural class.
The program has already caught the attention of a top investment firm. Kleiner Perkins announced it will give an interview to every incoming MET student for its fellowship, which lets students join its portfolio companies in design and engineering roles for the summer.
Michael Grimes, managing director at Morgan Stanley and one of Silicon Valley’s most influential dealmakers, has been pitching Berkeley (his alma mater) on a program like this for years. Sitting in his office, which is decorated with certificates and trophies commemorating the IPOs he led for Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Snapchat, Grimes offers a vision of MET as a tech industry pipeline.
“It looks like it is going to be the most elite tech leader factory there is,” says Grimes, who is also a founding advisory board member of MET.
Its integrated curriculum combines classes in Berkeley’s top-ranked Haas School of Business and the College of Engineering, giving students an understanding of the business and technology mechanisms that run the tech industry. Students will be mentored by faculty of both schools, and have access to events, career fairs, and “field days” at major tech companies.
Berkeley students have always had the option to earn dual degrees in the two colleges, but the sheer number of academic credits required has deterred most. (Grimes knows of one student to do it in the last 20 years.) MET cuts back the electives requirements, so students won’t be as overwhelmed, and gives them priority for getting into classes that count toward their majors.
Grimes worried that business and engineering students would come to resent MET students, because they receive special treatment. An analogy provided by a colleague calmed those fears.
“It’s like the Navy Seals. They’re going through a workload that nobody else is enduring,” Grimes says. “Even though not every midshipman is doing the same thing, they respect the ones standing out in the cold water longer, up before the sun rises, to do extra reps.”
The Haas School and the College of Engineering raised more than $10 million in endowments for the new program. Over 2,500 high school seniors applied for the 30 spots in MET, making it more selective than Harvard, MIT, and Stanford, with an acceptance rate of less than 2%.
Students have until May 1 to accept their invitations to join the inaugural class.
Part of the pitch for MET, which competes with the University of Pennsylvania’s Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology (that program largely inspired MET), is that it offers a more direct route to C-suite roles in tech. Plenty of entrepreneurs study computer science and engineering in their undergraduate years, gain three to five years of work experience, and go on to earn their MBA. MET streamlines that path by teaching both disciplines at the same time.
Marjorie DeGraca, executive director of MET, says she saw a large number of engineers walk through her door during her time as the assistant dean of admissions at the Haas School.
“They’re coming back because their career has been stopped or because they’re not able to make that transition into more of a business function, because they’ve been labeled in a certain way,” DeGraca says.
Andy Chen, a partner at Kleiner Perkins who heads up the firm’s Fellows Program and recruits heavily from UPenn’s M&T program, is promising interviews to every incoming freshman at MET.
“You tend to find that the engineer that just doesn’t understand life beyond code is operating at 50% capacity. To have a broader understanding of the business is super important, especially when you’re the founder of a company or you’re an early employee at a company,” Chen says.
Grimes is hopeful that the next Mark Zuckerberg and Evan Spiegel might graduate from Berkeley. And someday, he wants to make them billionaires. “I’ll do their IPOs,” he says.
Over the past few years, the Italian press has made the young entrepreneur Matteo Achilli a celebrity.
This hype has culminated in a feature film, “The Startup,” that, ironically, has turned the Italian media against the 24 year old.
Achilli launched the beta version of his professional social network Egomnia — its name a portmanteau of the Latin ego, “self,” and omnia, “everything” — when he was a student at the prestigious business school Bocconi University in Milan in 2012.
At this point his only investor was his father, who had given him €10,000 to pay his only employee, a contracted developer. Achilli begin pitching his idea of Egomnia, which would connect young Italians to jobs, to fellow Bocconi students.
One of them, student liason to the school board Antonio Aloisi, wrote a blog post for the popular site Linkiesta detailing what he found to be an inspirational story of Achilli’s startup dream.
While there’s no shortage of the 19-year-old with a startup story in the US, the story stood out in Italy, which was still reeling from the global recession. And it was especially notable that a young man wanted to help those in his generation find jobs in a country with an unemployment rate over 12%. The post went viral.
It caught the eye of the team at the magazine Panorama: Economy, and in March 2012, Achilli’s face donned the magazine’s cover with the title “Italian Zuckerberg.” Again, the story was still based on Achilli’s potential, rather any results.
Two years later, the BBC included Achilli in its documentary series “The Next Billionaires,” introducing “the Italian Zuckerberg” to an English-speaking audience. In the same way that his Panorama cover story was based on a viral blog post, the BBC documentary was largely based on the Panorama story.
We spoke with Achilli via Skype in 2014, not long after the BBC’s story, and asked Achilli about his rising fame despite the results he had yet to deliver. He noted that when he visited Silicon Valley the previous summer, “I wasn’t happy he says. In the United States, everyone has a startup. If you have one in Italy, you are special.”
When we interviewed him, he had already signed the movie deal that would become 2017’s “The Startup.”
A trailer for the film:
From 2014 to the release of the film, Achilli continued to make media appearances in Italy (and even made BI’s 2015 list of “The most powerful people under 30“). But when the film finally came out this month, it prompted Italian journalists to actually do some digging to discover how much of the dramatic film was real and how much was myth.
The numbers, combined with some questionable advertising, paint a bleak picture for a five-year-old company worthy of a film.
• Wired Italia’s Luca Zorloni found that as of last December, Egomnia had about 847,000 registered users and as of April about 1,300 registered companies posting jobs.
Zorloni also discovered that many of the partnerships proudly displayed on Egomnia’s website are not what they seem: the city government of Milan, advertised as a partner, is no longer a customer; Vodafone, advertised as a customer, once was but is no longer; Microsoft is a partner in the sense that it provides cloud services to the site and allows Egomnia to create apps for its market, but it also decided to pull jobs it listed on the site; Google’s Italian office told Zorloni it had no knowledge of whether Google was still a partner, but saw no evidence it was. Zorloni also noted Achilli’s Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign for Egomnia that as of April 21 has raised $54 of its $100,000 goal.
• Business Insider Italia’s Giuliano Balestreri argued that Achilli’s valuation of his own company at €1 billion is based on ego and not numbers. Taking a look through Egomnia’s 2015 financial report, he noted that the company had €314,000 in earnings; €120,000 in debt (€111,000 expiring in 2016); and a little over €100,000 in operating profit. Net profit was just €5,000.
And while Egomnia may have 847,000 registered users, Balestreri noted that site performance tracker Webtrekk registered fewer than 300,000 total visits over the last two years.
He also argued that Egomnia’s user experience is ugly and difficult to use, and is one of the key reasons it can’t compete with the likes of professional networks like LinkedIn or job posters like GiantInfoJobs. For context, the latter company has 80,000 registered companies in Italy, had about a third of all online job postings in Italy last year, and has been adding two million users monthly.
• La Repubblica’s Chiara Ugolini noted that five-year-old Egomnia has fewer than five employees. She explained that there is a backlash in Italy agains the film “The Startup” for being inaccurate and overly dramatized. Its director Alessandro D’Alatri told her that his intention was to use Achilli’s story as a foundation to create a story about all entrepreneurs in their first year, and that he was not going for accuracy.
• Diaro Innovazione’s Valentina Ferrero noted that Egomnia has a very weak online presence. Its social pages have few followers (its Facebook page has about 19,000 likes and its Twitter page has just over 8,000 followers) and aside from the few popular stories mentioned earlier, it barely shows up in searches. Ferrero also noted that much of the feedback from users, which can be seen on Facebook, is quite negative.
Back in 2012, Achilli was a young entrepreneur with a relatively small investment from his dad and plenty of ambition. He soon found himself a celebrity, largely by luck and the media’s desire for an interesting story, a hero for Italy’s struggling economy that had failed its young adults. It turns out that when a feature film came out based on that hero’s life, he didn’t yet have much to show for it.
BI Italia’s Balestreri, translated from the Italian, put it starkly: “Achilli is a celebrity whose story is quite mundane. He’s a young entrepreneur who tried to launch the next big tech startup but failed, just like thousands of other young people.”
Remember netbooks? The tiny ultra-portable laptops? One Chinese tech company is bringing them back.
The GPD Pocket is an absolutely tiny laptop that runs the full version of Windows 10, and it fits in your pocket.
It might sound like a netbook, but its premium build and decent specs differentiates it from traditional netbooks that felt cheap and were incredibly underpowered.
The GPD Pocket went through an Indiegogo campaign that raised over $3 million. Unfortunately, the campaign is closed, and there’s no way to pre-order a unit right now. The Indiegogo page says the first GPD Pockets will ship in June, but it’s unclear when they’ll be widely available to buy after that.
Take a look:
It weighs in at just over one pound.
When Vanity Fair published the account of a “top Information Age entrepreneur” about what he learned by spending $12 million on a private jet, it drew a lot of attention.
This was in 1998, and while it was the height of the dot-com boom, private jets weren’t the kind of commonplace accessory for the rich that they are now.
The essay, titled “My First Gulfstream,” gets rediscovered every few years, as new audiences are surprised by the piece’s anecdotes about what billionaires talk about and the staggering costs of owning and operating a private jet.
You cannot really talk about your jet to non–jet owners, unless you want to come off as some kind of braggart. So, after biting their tongues all that time, jet owners were happy to help when somebody had a sincere interest in joining the club.
People worth billions could suddenly sound like Marxists when confronted with the private-jet issue. One famously parsimonious billionaire I talked to said, “Jesus, do you know what those cost to operate? Maybe four grand an hour! Who is worth that?” I offered on the spot to buy the next year of his time for $5,000 an hour, as long as I got his profits in return. Sadly for me, he rethought his position.
My favorite reply came from Warren Buffett. “That sort of prurient interest isn’t suitable for a youngster like you,” he said in a father-knows-best tone. Accepting the inevitable, as a good father should, he concluded, “but when you get it, I want a ride.” Warren is famous for a down-to-earth sensibility that seems utterly removed from the world of private jets. Despite this, he owns one, which he christened The Indefensible as partial penance for the incongruous luxury.
The anonymous author of My First Gulfstream is Nathan Myhrvold, who was then the Chief Technology Officer of Microsoft.
“Yes, I wrote it,” Myhrvold told Business Insider in an interview.
It’s the first time Myhrvold has publicly confirmed he wrote the essay, although it’s been an open secret for years. The Wall Street Journal and Forbes have previously linked the former Microsoft CTO to the essay.
“It was a crazy process that led me to buying a plane and I haven’t looked back” Myhrvold, who later went on to found Intellectual Ventures, said.
Why was it anonymous? Back then, it was less common for non-CEO tech executives to have private planes. Microsoft’s public relations would have been nervous seeing its brand in the article. After all, Bill Gates had only recently bought his own plane, and Microsoft staff couldn’t even fly first class, according to The Times.
Since then, private planes are commonplace among the 1%. When the rich hang out at billionaire summits like the Sun Valley, Idaho conference hosted by Allen & Co., it’s like a private plane parking lot.
Myhrvold told Business Insider he still flies in a private jet, although it’s not the same Gulfstream he wrote about nearly two decades ago. “The difference between your first and your second is not the same as going from zero to one,” Myhrvold said. “So I did not write an article about it.”
Each week, innovative and exciting new tech gadgets hit the market. But for every practical invention, there is also a totally outlandish, off-the-wall gizmo.
Here at Business Insider, our inboxes get inundated every day with emails from startups and companies “pitching” their new, game-changing products.
We can’t write about everything, of course. And not all these products fit neatly into our tech coverage.
But some of these products are so odd, unusual or just plain fun that it feels wrong to let them languish, unheralded, in the depths of our inboxes.
So we’ve compiled some of our favorites. And who knows, they might just change the world.
See for yourself:
The Jul smart mug wants to be the Goldilocks of coffee cups: not to hot and not too cold.
The mug will let you control your preferred drinking temperature, keeping your coffee, tea, or other hot beverage at the ideal temp “from the first sip to the last drop.” By spinning the base of the mug, you can make your drink warmer or colder and an indicator light will tell you when the drink is ready for you. Jul comes with a coaster that also serves as a wireless charger.
Jul says a pledge of $49 or more to its Kickstarter campaign will get you a mug and coaster. The company has already raised more than $158,000, well above its $50,000 goal. Check out the company’s Kickstarter page here, but as always, pledge at your own risk.
Once you have your smart mug, you’ll need a smart water bottle to complete the set. AquaGenie isn’t for regulating temperature, however: It’s aimed at helping you drink enough water throughout the day.
AquaGenie will track how much water you’re drinking and send the information to your health tracking app of choice. It will also gently remind you that you haven’t taken a sip in a while, and shaking it will show an indicator light that lets you know if you’re on track to meet your water consumption goals.
The company says pledging $55 will get you a water bottle plus a wireless charger. Check out the company’s Kickstarter page here.
If you love baseball caps but always wished for a stiffer brim, there’s a new invention that can help: OVi, a wood-brimmed baseball cap.
The cap is made of wool and acrylic with a bamboo brim and will be available if OVi meets its Kickstarter goal of $14,266. A pledge of $37 will get you a cap, which OVi says is $9 off the eventual retail price. The cap is available in red, green, and blue, and OVi will add more colors if it meets its stretch goals.
Check out the company’s Kickstarter page here.
2017 is a time of serious political upheaval — but in the startup world, life must go on.
Like the US, Europe has been shaken by populism over the past year, with Britain voting to leave the European Union in June 2016. The vote rocked the London tech community, widely regarded as the epicentre of the tech industry on the continent, with concerns ranging from potential hiring difficulties to the availability of venture capital to help startups grow.
But the tech industry hasn’t ground to a halt because of it. Startups need to sustain themselves and continue to grow — backed by a network of venture capital firms providing funding and guidance.
Using data provided by tech and venture analysis firm Dealroom, Business Insider has ranked the 22 most prominent venture capital investors operating in Europe in 2017. So from Benchmark to Balderton Capital, here are the highest-profile VC firms in Europe today on the hunt for the next Spotify or Skype.
A note on methodology: Unlike in previous years, where our European VC firm rankings have focused only on fund size, 2017’s formula takes into account a number of factors, including deal activity, number of investments, number of exits, value of exits, European portfolio size, capital efficiency, and more. For the first time, the ranking also includes firms based outside of Europe that invest in the continent, as well as angel investors. You can read more about Dealroom’s methdology here.
San Francisco firm Benchmark has invested in everyone from Snapchat to Quora. Launched in 1995, its European investments include Citymapper and French social network Zenly. (It also opened a European arm in 2000, which was spun out independently as Balderton Capital in 2007.)
Swedish firm Creandum focuses on Seed and Series A funding, investing in 61 companies to date. Its portfolio includes Spotify, iZettle, and Klarna, and it has offices in Stockholm, Berlin, and San Francisco.
Greylock Partners is a Silicon Valley VC firm that invests in both consumer and enterprise tech companies, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Dropbox, and Medium. Since its 1965 launch, 170 of its portfolio companies have IPO’d, with investments including Wonga and Facebook.
Apple has developed an “Automated System” for self-driving cars and the company has a special training program underway that teaches staffers testing vehicles how to regain manual control of an autonomous car.
Apple’s “Development Platform Specific Training” document, which was obtained by Business Insider through a public records request, sheds light on Apple’s effort to develop autonomous driving technology.
The documents represent the latest sign of the tech giant’s seriousness about self-driving cars, a market that analysts believe could be worth tens of billions of dollars that will pit Apple against Google, Uber and Tesla, among others.
Apple obtained permits to test self driving cars on California roads earlier this month.
Apple is required under California law to train its drivers in how to override an automated system before they hit public roads.
The system is called “Apple Automated System” in the document.
According to the document, Apple drivers must pass seven different tests before they are fully trained. Each safety driver has two practice runs and three trials to pass each test on what appears to be a private course.
Here are the seven tests:
Apparently, during safety testing, the “Autonomous System” or development platform, is controlled electronically, for example, by a joystick (or, potentially by autonomous software.) Apple’s drivers need to be ready to take manual control of the vehicle.
According to the training packet, Apple’s self-driving car uses a Logitech wheel and pedals to actuate drive by wire, and it supports one person at a time.
Pressing the brake pedal or grabbing the steering wheel in Apple’s test vehicles will disengage the electronic driving mode, but drivers can accelerate without overriding the “drive by wire” mode.
Apple applied for a permit for six drivers to drive three Lexus RX450h SUVs. Apple’s drivers, named in the application, are mostly Ph.Ds specializing in machine learning, some of whom previously worked for companies like Bosch and Tesla, according to LinkedIn.
Apple said its vehicles will be able to capture and store “relevant data before a collision occurs” in its application. Apple’s point of contact in its application is Steve Kenner, who previously sent a letter to NHTSA. Apple declined to comment.
A prevailing theory in the tech industry is that smartphones will one day be replaced by normal-looking glasses that display virtual information onto the real world.
Leaders like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg believe the nascent technology, known as augmented reality, could eventually replace all screens, including TVs. They say that when you can display virtually anything onto the world around you, the need for physical displays is essentially erased.
The problem is that, while a traditional computer has a mouse and a smartphone has a touchscreen, there’s no input equivalent for AR yet. How do you dismiss a notification or respond to a text when you’re wearing a computer on your face?
The answer lies in connecting directly with your brain, Facebook chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer recently told Business Insider. And it’s a big part of why Facebook is working on a brain sensor capable of letting people type using only their minds.
“It has huge applications for communication and connection,” Schroepfer said of Facebook’s recently announced brain-computer-interface (BCI) sensor, which the company is aiming to have a working prototype of in 18 months. “And it’s also I think a critical technology for AR and VR in the long run. Because the problems of input are a big challenge there.”
While Facebook believes that the first truly AR glasses won’t arrive for 10 to 20 more years, early versions will have some way of connecting to the human brain, according to Schroepfer.
“I think what you’ll see is nascent versions of BCI being integrated into early AR systems,” he explained. “If you are just able to move your eyes and do a single click from your brain… I’ve now just rebuilt the mouse.”
It looks like we are going to see more of Hobbs and Deckard in action together.
Deadline is reporting that Universal is in the early stages of developing a spin-off movie from its successful “Fast and the Furious” franchise that will focus on Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jason Statham’s characters.
It’s an idea that likely began to get traction after the audience reaction to the two in the franchise’s latest movie, “The Fate of the Furious.” The actors shared a lot of screen time either trying to destroy each other physically or, when that wasn’t possible, trying to destroy each other verbally. Some of the best scenes involve their interaction.
According to Deadline, franchise screenwriter Chris Morgan will be writing the script, which would involve Johnson’s US Diplomatic Security Agent Hobbs forming an unlikely alliance with Statham’s Decker.
This spin-off would likely be released in a time when Universal is figuring out its next “Fast and Furious” movie.
The studio is taking the Disney/Lucasfilm approach to the “Star Wars” universe by expanding its biggest cash-cow property.
But a spin-off featuring Johnson will fuel the rumors that he and “Fast and Furious” star Vin Diesel can’t work together, and this is the only way the studio can keep Johnson in the franchise. It’s more than obvious from how “The Fate of the Furious” was shot that Johnson and Diesel had very limited screen time together.
It can’t be all bad, though. The movie has grossed over $685 million to date and will likely win the box office for a second straight weekend.