“…I have been getting a lot of questions lately about Healthcare.gov. People want to know why it cost between 2 and 4 times as much money to create a broken website than to build the original iPhone. This is an excellent question. However, in my experience, understanding why a project went wrong tends to be far less valuable than understanding why a project went right.
So, rather than explaining why paying anywhere between $300M and $600M [update: now reported to be $840M] to build the first iteration of healthcare.gov was a bad idea, I would like to focus attention on a model for software-enabled government that works.
In doing so, perhaps this will be a step toward a better understanding of how technology might make the U.S. government better and not worse.”
Whatsapp had 450 million monthly users and just 32 engineers when it was acquired. Imgur scaled to over 40 billion monthly image views with just seven engineers. Instagram had 30 million users and just 13 engineers when it was acquired for $1 billion dollars.
This is the new normal: fewer engineers and dollars to ship code to more users than ever before. The potential impact of the lone software engineer is soaring. How long before we have a billion-dollar acquisition offer for a one-engineer startup? How long before the role of an engineer, artisanally crafting custom solutions, vanishes altogether? MORE
We hear about the mobile revolution in Africa all the time… But keeping smartphones connected to the Internet is straining the spectrum in most countries, and is certainly straining the connectivity infrastructure.
Africa, for the most part, will “skip over” PCs, as hundreds of millions of people connect to the Internet exclusively by phones and tablets. But there’s an acute need for improved connectivity. The problem is that, even in the most developed areas of Africa, the deployment of strong and fast 3G and 4G coverage is lagging, and the capital that is available will flow to build out areas where there are paying customers.
That means that the outlying areas, where a lot of people live, will continue to be underserved for quite some time. MORE
The structure of the VC industry is changing. This matters not only to entrepreneurs raising capital — but it also impacts the finance industry overall, because companies are staying private longer (fewer IPOs) and public investors (including hedge funds, mutual funds, publicly held corporations) are getting into the VC game, too. So in that sense these changes affect everyone who is in the market.
But the real question is: Why now? What’s really behind the structural transformation happening in venture capital — and by extension, the tech industry? And finally: How do we reconcile the seeming paradox of it being cheaper to start companies today… but at the same time needing to raise more capital? MORE
Spending time in the developing world, one can always marvel at the resourcefulness of people living in often extraordinarily difficult conditions… Here in the U.S., we’re all familiar with the transformative nature of mobile phones in our lives. And for those in extreme poverty, the mobile phone has been equally, if not more, transformative.
One particular challenge faced by many in Africa, especially those living in fairly extreme poverty (less than $500 a year in purchase power), is dealing with money and buying things, and how the mobile phone is transforming those needs. MORE
There are around 1.6 to 1.7 billion* PCs in use today, and there are already perhaps 2 billion iOS and Android devices**. Over the next few years the great majority of the mobile base will convert to these devices: there will be 3 to 4 billion smartphones in use*** and hundreds of millions more tablets.
So, mobile means there will be two to three times more personal computing devices connected to the internet. But actually, that understates the change massively. The difference in how those smartphones are used is actually just as important as the raw numbers. MORE