Tag: Start-ups

Prime Leverage: How Amazon Wields Power in the Technology World

Amazon Everywhere ImageCredit…Nolan Pelletier Software start-ups have a phrase for what Amazon is doing to them: ‘strip-mining’ them of their innovations. SEATTLE — Elastic, a software start-up in Amsterdam, was rapidly building its business and had grown to 100 employees. Then Amazon came along. In October 2015, Amazon’s cloud computing arm announced it was copying […]

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Underwater Drones, Mars Rover Parts and a High-Tech Revival

On a crisp afternoon in late September, a submarine launched from Governors Island. The 100-pound unmanned vessel bobbed in the waves for a few minutes before dipping briefly underwater, then returned to the dock. Brian Wilson looked on like a worried parent watching a child swim alone for the first time. “There’s no GPS underwater,” […]

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What Makes a ‘Narrative Violation’?

There’s an easy way to sound smart and edgy in the tech world: First, identify a broad idea that people seem to agree on. Then, cherry-pick a single piece of data that refutes it. Call it a “narrative violation.” And tweet it bumptiously. Venture capitalists, the tech world’s philosopher-kings, have embraced narrative violations. Earlier this […]

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Fresh-Food Vending Machines Will Be Graded Like Restaurants

On Oct. 30, an inspector from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene was making her rounds when she came across a vending machine unlike any she seen before. Called Farmer’s Fridge, it was made of washed white wood, with a giant touch screen and a built-in recycling bin. Inside was not […]

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How a Gig Worker Revolt Begins

Until last week, Li Zilles was one of the many nameless and faceless contractors toiling in the bowels of the internet, providing online services that might have been mistaken for the work of artificial intelligence. The job: to transcribe audio files for the start-up Rev.com, churning out texts without clients ever knowing the name of […]

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For Start-Ups, Cash Is King (Again)

SAN FRANCISCO — Mark Frank, who runs a health technology start-up called SonderMind, had planned to wait until the end of 2020 to raise more money for his company. But after Uber and Lyft stumbled when going public and WeWork ousted its chief executive and pulled its initial stock offering, Mr. Frank changed his mind. […]

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The Work Diary of an Audio Erotica C.E.O.

Gina Gutierrez gets a lot of blank stares when explaining her start-up to people: It’s called Dipsea, and it sells subscriptions to immersive, short-form audio erotica. Venture capitalists, though, get it. They want to capitalize on dual booms in digital audio and sexual wellness, and some view Dipsea as the next Calm or Headspace. The […]

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The SoftBank Effect: How $100 Billion Left Workers in a Hole

For five years, Sunil Solankey, a retired captain in the Indian Army, had run the 20-room Four Sight Hotel in a New Delhi suburb. Business was steady, but he longed to make the establishment a destination for lucrative business travelers. Last year, a hospitality start-up called Oyo told Mr. Solankey that it would turn the […]

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The Sinister Privilege of Burning Billions

By the time Adam Neumann arrived in Brooklyn’s Dumbo neighborhood in 2008, most of the creatives who’d once lived and worked on the borough’s waterfront were gone. They’d been exiled years earlier, as successive mayors cracked down on code violations and landlords nursed visions of converting everything into luxury condos. The financial crisis had left […]

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Burrito Delivered by Bot, as Long as Students Don’t Trap It

BERKELEY, Calif. — Come lunchtime on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley, thousands of students rush out for a bite to eat and head back to class. But for more than a year, a few hundred have stayed put and instead summoned a knee-high robot bearing a burrito, a burger or other meals […]

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How to Feel Nothing Now, in Order to Feel More Later

SAN FRANCISCO — Everything was going really well for the men of Tennessee Street. Women wanted to talk to them, investors wanted to invest, their new site got traffic, phones were buzzing, their Magic: The Gathering cards were appreciating. This all was exactly the problem. They tried to tamp the pleasure. They would not eat […]

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Using Technology to Close the Autism Job Gap

This article is part of our continuing Fast Forward series, which examines technological, economic, social and cultural shifts that happen as businesses evolve. Byran Dai was 24 when he promised his mother, who passed away less than two months later, that he would look out for his younger brother Brandon, who is autistic. Brandon, 15 […]

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Would You Like Fries With That? McDonald’s Already Knows the Answer

McDonald’s has a new plan to sell more Big Macs: act like Big Tech. Over the last seven months, the fast-food chain has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to acquire technology companies that specialize in artificial intelligence and machine learning. McDonald’s has even established a new tech hub in the heart of Silicon Valley […]

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The Twilight of the Tech Idols

The banking industry, which has consistently been one of the wealthiest industries for the last few centuries, has very few leaders one would call “heroes” or “idols.” Most of them are part of a group of men who fought and finessed their way to the top by being good at corporate politics and managing other […]

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Silicon Valley Is Trying Out a New Mantra: Make a Profit

SAN FRANCISCO — Fred Wilson, a venture capitalist at Union Square Ventures, recently published a blog post titled “The Great Public Market Reckoning.” In it, he argued that the narrative that had driven start-up hype and valuations for the last decade was now falling apart. His post quickly ricocheted across Silicon Valley. Other venture capitalists, […]

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What if You Could Rent an Apartment Without a Security Deposit?

[What you need to know to start the day: Get New York Today in your inbox.] Nothing is certain in the grueling hunt for a New York City apartment, except perhaps the inevitability of shelling out thousands of dollars upfront in broker fees, one month’s rent and a security deposit. In 2016, New York City […]

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From Your Mouth to Your Screen, Transcribing Takes the Next Step

This article is part of our continuing Fast Forward series, which examines technological, economic, social and cultural shifts that happen as businesses evolve. LOS ALTOS, Calif. — Sam Liang longs for his mother and wishes he could recapture the things she told him when he was in high school. “I really miss her,” he said […]

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Wall Street Skeptics Poke at Start-Up Bubble

This was supposed to be the year when America’s biggest start-ups would finally make their triumphant debut on the stock market. Billionaire Silicon Valley investors, sneaker-clad founders and button-down bankers all expected enormous stock sales to turn companies like Uber, Lyft and WeWork into a new generation of corporate giants. It hasn’t quite turned out […]

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SoftBank Bet Big on Disruptive Companies. Many Have Not Paid Off.

Anyone who has taken an Uber, sent a Slack message or enjoyed a free beer at a WeWork owes a little something to Masayoshi Son. Through his Japanese conglomerate SoftBank and a $100 billion investment fund, Mr. Son plowed huge sums into these and other companies that aim to change how people work, travel and […]

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Open Offices Are a Capitalist Dead End

What was We thinking? That’s the only question worth asking now about the clowncar start-up known as The We Company, the money-burning, co-working behemoth whose best-known brand is WeWork. What’s a WeWork? What WeWork works on is work. The We Company takes out long-term leases on in-demand office buildings in more than 100 cities across […]

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Inside Airbnb, Employees Eager for Big Payouts Pushed It to Go Public

SAN FRANCISCO — Last summer, several Airbnb employees wrote a letter to the online room-rental start-up’s founders. On behalf of more than a dozen employees, they pleaded to be able to sell their Airbnb stock options. Because Airbnb is privately held, its shares cannot be easily traded or cashed in. So the employees also asked […]

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Silicon Valley Goes to Therapy

SAN FRANCISCO — Silicon Valley told itself a good story, the best one, really: It was saving the world. For nearly a decade, this gave the modern tech worker purpose, optimism and self-confidence. Then came the bad headlines, followed by worse headlines — about the industry, about the country, about the world. In search of […]

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