skunkworks

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pages: 261 words: 16,734

Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams by Tom Demarco, Timothy Lister

A Pattern Language, cognitive dissonance, interchangeable parts, job satisfaction, knowledge worker, lateral thinking, Parkinson's law, performance metric, skunkworks, supply-chain management, women in the workforce

In addition to making them more efficient, the getaway and the periods of total autonomy give them an improved chance to jell into a high-momentum team. There Are Rules and We Do Break Them The engineering profession is famous for a kind of development mode that doesn’t exist elsewhere: the skunkworks project. Skunkworks implies that the project is hidden away someplace where it can be done without upper management’s knowing what’s going on. This happens when people at the lowest levels believe so strongly in the rightness of a product that they refuse to accept management’s decision to kill it. Digital Equipment Corporation’s PDP11, one of DEC’s most successful products, came to the market in this manner. There is a lore about such projects. The amusing thing is that skunkworks is really just another word for insubordination. Management says no, and the project goes on anyway. One of our clients tried to cancel a product that was judged to have no market.

., 93 “Fourteen Points”, 157 Fragmentation of time as team obstacle, 147 time wasting from, 196–197 Free electrons, 232–233 Frustrations from flow interruptions, 62 Fujitsu nonstandardization at, 181 team veto power, 23 Fun on the job, 221 brainstorming, 228 Coding War Games, 226–227 corrective actions, 235–237 cottage-industry phenomenon, 231–232 fellows, gurus, and intrapreneurs, 232–233 life counseling, 233–234 order from chaos, 223–224 pilot projects, 224–225 training, trips, conferences, celebrations, and retreats, 228–229 Functional consistency, 225 Furniture police, 37–40 FYIs e-mail, 200–201 meeting, 189–190 G Generational divide, 113–115 Getaway ploys, 163–164 Gilb, Tom, 58 Gilb’s Law, 58 Glitz, 74–75 Goals, team vs. corporate, 133–136 “Good enough” products, 168 Group interaction space, 88 Gurus, 232–233 H Hawthorne Effect nonstandard approaches for, 181 in pilot projects, 224 Hawthorne Western Electric Company, 181 Heterogeneity in jelled teams, 172 Hewlett-Packard community building at, 123 quality standards, 22–23 Hidden costs of turnover, 118–119 Hiding out, 54–55 High-Tech Illusion description, 5 self-healing systems, 180–181 Hiring aptitude tests, 105 auditions, 105–107, 165 diversity in, 109–111 introduction, 103–104 portfolios, 104–105 uniformity in, 94–95 Hitachi Software retraining at, 123 team veto power, 23 Homogeneous work groups, 172 Hornblower factor, 93–97 Hotels, 85 Human capital as expense, 125–127 Humiliation from change, 208–209 Hysterical optimism, management by, 134–136 I IBM, Santa Teresa facility, 51–52 Ideal workplace, 79–80 indoor and outdoor space, 87 organic order, 80–82 patterns, 82–84 public space, 87–88 tailored work space, 84–85 windows, 84–86 Identity in jelled teams, 136–137, 169–171 Immersion period for flow, 62–63 Improvement from change, 206 Incompatible multitasking, 71 Inconsistent products, 225 Individual differences in Coding War Games, 44–45 Individuality of employees, 10 Indoor and outdoor space pattern, 87 Industrial Revolution, 14 Innovation, leadership for, 101 Insecurity of management, 96 Inspirational posters, 151–152 Insubordination in skunkworks projects, 164 Interchangeable view of employees, 9–10 Internal competition in teams, 155–158 Interrupt-consciousness, 64 Interruptions flow factor, 62–64 from fragmentation, 197 getaways for, 164 telephones, 67–71 Intimacy gradient, 87 Intrapreneurs, 232–233 Inversion thinking, 144 Investment vs. expense, 126 in human capital, 127–130 time wasting issues, 197 Iterative design, 8 J Japanese companies quantity and productivity, 21–22 team veto power, 23 Jeffery, Ross, 27 Jelled teams Black Team, 139–141 breaking up, 171 chemistry, 167–172 vs. cliques, 137 competition, 155–158 concept, 133–134 cult of quality, 168–169 eliteness, 136–137, 169–171 getaways, 163–164 goals, 134–136 natural authority in, 165–166 network model of behavior, 171–172 obstacles, 143–152 reassurance in, 169 rule breaking, 164 signs, 136–137 team building, 159–160 voice in team member selection, 165 Joel, Billy, 14 Johnson, Jerry, 205 Johnson, Lyndon, 121 Joint ownership of product by teams, 137 Jones, Capers on scheduling, 28 on systems development costs, 146 Jugglers, hiring, 103–104 Just-passing-through mentality, 120 K Kay, Alan, 113 Kennedy, John, 121 Ketchledge, Ray, 122 Kronborg castle, 236 L Laetrile, 31 Languages changes, false hope from, 33 as Coding War Games factor, 45 Laptops at meetings, 188 Lateral Thinking (deBono), 144 Lawrence, Michael, 27 Leadership, 99 for innovation, 101 jelled teams, 171–172 as service, 100 talk:do ratio, 101–102 as work-extraction mechanism, 99 Learning, organizational.

., 161 Royalty system in e-publication borrowing, 184 Rule breaking in teams, 164 S Sacrificing quality, 20–22 Salaries as Coding War Games factor, 46 as expense, 126–127 Salary reviews as team obstacle, 157 Santa Teresa facility, 51–52 Satir, Virginia, 206–207 Satir Change Model, 206–208 Schools, company-provided, 220 “Seat of the skirt management”, 110 Second thermodynamic law of management, 97 Security and change, 208–209 Self-assessment, 59–60 Self-coordination, 200, 202 Self-esteem as basic instinct, 19 and quality, 20, 148 Self-healing systems, 175 convergence of method, 179–180 deterministic and nondeterministic, 175–176 high-tech illusion, 180–181 malicious compliance, 179 Methodology systems, 176–179 Sense of humor in teams, 165 Sense of identity and eliteness in teams, 136–137 Separation as team obstacle, 146–147 Service, leadership as, 100 Seven Sirens of false hope, 32–34 Sheep Look Up (Brunner), 50 Short-term perspective of turnover, 118–119 Sibling competition, 155–156 Sick organizations, 162 Skunkworks projects, 164 Socialization process in hiring, 106 Sociology, project failures from, 4–5 Software Engineering Economics (Boehm), 109 Southern California Edison, 123 Soviet society, 233 Space. See Office environment Spaghetti dinner team building example, 159–160 Spam, corporate, 200 Spanish Theory management, 13–18 Speaking out about office environment, 73–74, 88–89 Sports team metaphor, 158 Staffing plans, 194 Stages in Satir Change Model, 207–208 Stand-up meetings, 188 Standard dress, 95–96 Standardization for convergence of method, 180 limitations, 180–181 Standards, professional, 96 Start-up costs of new employees, 118, 128–129 Status meetings, 194 Status-seeking as office environment issue, 75 Steady-state production thinking, 10–11 Stone, Linda, 114 Strikes in Australia, 179 Surveys Parkinson’s Law, 27–29 project failures, 3–4 Swarthmore College, 86 T Tailored work space pattern, 84–85 Tajima, D., 22 Talk:do ratio, 101–102 Task-accounting data, 63–64 Team sociology, project failures from, 4–5 Teams diversity in, 109–111 jelled.


pages: 247 words: 81,135

The Great Fragmentation: And Why the Future of All Business Is Small by Steve Sammartino

3D printing, additive manufacturing, Airbnb, augmented reality, barriers to entry, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, bitcoin, BRICs, Buckminster Fuller, citizen journalism, collaborative consumption, cryptocurrency, David Heinemeier Hansson, disruptive innovation, Elon Musk, fiat currency, Frederick Winslow Taylor, game design, Google X / Alphabet X, haute couture, helicopter parent, illegal immigration, index fund, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, Law of Accelerating Returns, lifelogging, market design, Metcalfe's law, Minecraft, minimum viable product, Network effects, new economy, peer-to-peer, post scarcity, prediction markets, pre–internet, profit motive, race to the bottom, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, remote working, RFID, Rubik’s Cube, self-driving car, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Skype, social graph, social web, software is eating the world, Steve Jobs, survivorship bias, too big to fail, US Airways Flight 1549, web application, zero-sum game

They have to try to put themselves out of business; that is, to have a skunkworks mentality. It can’t be about new products or incremental innovations. It needs to be about building new methods with which to go to market, not just new things to put into the market. The change we’re living through is environmental, rather than about the species that live in the environment. So it requires much more than improvements on the existing; it requires new systems. What smart companies are doing is creating external environments for radical innovation. The Google X lab, for example, carries out research and development that’s breaking totally new ground. The aim of the Google X lab is to create 10-fold improvements in the technology they release. As with all classic skunkworks, they’re in a different building so that the existing business culture doesn’t infect their purpose.

As with all classic skunkworks, they’re in a different building so that the existing business culture doesn’t infect their purpose. skunkworks: a small, independent, loosely structured group who research and develop a project primarily for the purpose of radical innovation (Wikipedia) Internal venture capital If the new players in the market are consistently being beaten by startups, why not join them? There’s no reason why any large company can’t redirect R&D capital into a skunkworks, or their own venture-capital arm. Outsourcing is not a new concept. It’s used for creative advertising development, manufacturing, administration, legal and accounting. Almost every function of a business can be and has been outsourced, so why not innovation through the employment of venture funding? An industry realm focused venture-capital fund sponsored by an industry about to be disrupted may be the best investment it can make in surviving the upheaval.

The two will have to be kept separate to maintain their nimbleness, or risk becoming victims of the accelerating pace of change. Keep the segments separate and aggregate the profits; don’t aim for false efficiencies in operations. Avoid the development of a monoculture, a viewpoint where a company thinks it has all the answers, which is something no company can do in times of rapid change. Instead, maintain an independent skunkworks mentality of self-hacking and disruption. The structure can’t be that of the industrial model; it just doesn’t work anymore. The ‘now’ question It gets heavy carrying an irrelevant past into the future. The key question big companies need to ask themselves is this: If we were setting up shop today, which parts of our business would we not include? Which parts would be in-house, what would be outsourced, what would our culture be and what would we not invest in?


pages: 624 words: 180,416

For the Win by Cory Doctorow

anti-globalists, barriers to entry, Burning Man, creative destruction, double helix, Internet Archive, inventory management, lateral thinking, loose coupling, Maui Hawaii, microcredit, New Journalism, Ponzi scheme, post-materialism, random walk, RFID, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, slashdot, speech recognition, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, supply-chain management, technoutopianism, union organizing, wage slave

Will you do something with us, if we can make it work? 100 percent access, no oversight? Say you will. Please. Your pal, Kettlebelly She stared at her screen. It was like a work of art; just look at that return address, “kettlewell-l@skunkworks.kodacell.com”—for kodacell.com to be live and accepting mail, it had to have been registered the day before. She had a vision of Kettlewell checking his email at midnight before his big press-conference, catching Freddy’s column, and registering kodacell.com on the spot, then waking up some sysadmin to get a mail server answering at skunkworks.kodacell.com. Last she’d heard, Lockheed-Martin was threatening to sue anyone who used their trademarked term “Skunk Works” to describe a generic R&D department. That meant that Kettlewell had moved so fast that he hadn’t even run this project by legal.

And Landon Kettlewell knows your name.” She finished the wine and opened her computer. It was dark enough now with the sun set behind the hills that she could read the screen. The Web was full of interesting things, her email full of challenging notes from her readers, and her editor had already signed off on her column. She was getting ready to shut the lid and head for bed, so she pulled her mail once more. From: kettlewell-l@skunkworks.kodacell.com To: schurch@sjmercury.com Subject: Embedded journalist? Thanks for keeping me honest today, Suzanne. It’s the hardest question we’re facing today: what happens when all the things you’re good at are no good to anyone anymore? I hope we’re going to answer that with the new model. You do good work, madam. I’d be honored if you’d consider joining one of our little teams for a couple months and chronicling what they do.

She spread on some expensive duty-free French wrinkle-cream and brushed her teeth and put on her nightie and double-checked the door locks and did all the normal things she did of an evening. Then she folded back her sheets, plumped her pillows and stared at them. She turned on her heel and stalked back to her computer and thumped the spacebar until the thing woke from sleep. From: schurch@sjmercury.com To: kettlewell-l@skunkworks.kodacell.com Subject: Re: Embedded journalist? Kettlebelly: that is one dumb nickname. I couldn’t possibly associate myself with a grown man who calls himself Kettlebelly. So stop calling yourself Kettlebelly, immediately. If you can do that, we’ve got a deal. Suzanne There had come a day when her readers acquired email and the paper ran her address with her byline, and her readers had begun to write her and write her and write her.


pages: 292 words: 85,151

Exponential Organizations: Why New Organizations Are Ten Times Better, Faster, and Cheaper Than Yours (And What to Do About It) by Salim Ismail, Yuri van Geest

23andMe, 3D printing, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Ben Horowitz, bioinformatics, bitcoin, Black Swan, blockchain, Burning Man, business intelligence, business process, call centre, chief data officer, Chris Wanstrath, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive bias, collaborative consumption, collaborative economy, commoditize, corporate social responsibility, cross-subsidies, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, dark matter, Dean Kamen, dematerialisation, discounted cash flows, disruptive innovation, distributed ledger, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, game design, Google Glasses, Google Hangouts, Google X / Alphabet X, gravity well, hiring and firing, Hyperloop, industrial robot, Innovator's Dilemma, intangible asset, Internet of things, Iridium satellite, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Joi Ito, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, Law of Accelerating Returns, Lean Startup, life extension, lifelogging, loose coupling, loss aversion, low earth orbit, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market design, means of production, minimum viable product, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, NetJets, Network effects, new economy, Oculus Rift, offshore financial centre, PageRank, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, paypal mafia, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer model, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, prediction markets, profit motive, publish or perish, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Ronald Coase, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Skype, smart contracts, Snapchat, social software, software is eating the world, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, subscription business, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, telepresence, telepresence robot, Tony Hsieh, transaction costs, Travis Kalanick, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, uber lyft, urban planning, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, X Prize, Y Combinator, zero-sum game

Although they have access to coaching from some of the company’s top innovators, the rest is up to them. In 2013, nine hundred of Adobe’s 11,000 employees participated in the workshop. Not only does Adobe’s approach stimulate experimentation, but it also establishes a measurable funnel by which promising ideas and concepts can be identified and pursued in a systemic and comparable way. Many other companies are also exploring experimentation—not just in skunkworks, but also on core processes. It is not, however, a totally new concept. The Japanese have long followed the practice of kaizen: constant improvement as a fundamental process management technique. The only difference between scalable learning and kaizen is the use of new and more advanced offline and online data-driven tools to test assumptions of customer groups, use cases and solutions. Apple used a kind of kaizen to launch its first retail store, which was considered a highly risky move at the time.

Copy Google[X] At a Singularity University event three years ago, Larry Page told Salim he’d heard good things about Brickhouse and asked whether Google should set up something similar. Salim’s recommendation was no; he believed it would only evoke the same immune system response he’d experienced at Yahoo. Page’s response was cryptic: “What would a Brickhouse for atoms look like?” he asked. We now know what he meant. In launching the Google[X] lab, Google has taken the classic skunkworks approach to new product development further than anyone ever imagined. Google[X] offers two fascinating new extensions to the traditional approach. First, it aims for moonshot-quality ideas (e.g., life extension, autonomous vehicles, Google Glass, smart contact lenses, Project Loon, etc.). Second, unlike traditional corporate labs that focus on existing markets, Google[X] combines breakthrough technologies with Google’s core information competencies to create entirely new markets.

Lean Startup methodology)* ( ) No, we use traditional business process management (BPM) ( ) We use the Lean approach (or similar) for customer facing areas like marketing ( ) We use the Lean approach for product innovation and product development ( ) We use the Lean approach for all core functions (innovation, marketing, sales, service, HR, even legal!) 17) To what extent do you tolerate failure and encourage risk-taking?* ( ) Failure is not an option (NASA) and is a Career Limiting Move (CLM) ( ) Failure and Risk are encouraged, but in name only and not tracked or quantified ( ) Failure and risk-taking are allowed and measured, but sandboxed in skunkworks or very defined boundaries (e.g. Lockheed Skunk Works) ( ) Failure and risk-taking are expected, pervasive, measured and even celebrated across the organization (e.g. Amazon, Google, P&G Heroic Failure Award) Autonomy & Decentralization 18) Does your organization operate with large, hierarchical structures or small, multi-disciplinary, self-organizing teams?* ( ) We have a traditional corporate hierarchy with large, specialized groups operating in silos ( ) We have some small, multi-disciplinary teams operating at the edges, away from the core ( ) We have some small, multi-disciplinary teams accepted and embraced within the core organization ( ) Small, multi-disciplinary, networked, self-organizing teams are the primary operating structure across the organization (e.g.


pages: 244 words: 66,599

Insanely Great: The Life and Times of Macintosh, the Computer That Changed Everything by Steven Levy

Apple II, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, computer age, conceptual framework, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, Howard Rheingold, HyperCard, information retrieval, information trail, John Markoff, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Marshall McLuhan, Mitch Kapor, Mother of all demos, Productivity paradox, QWERTY keyboard, rolodex, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Ted Nelson, the medium is the message, Vannevar Bush

But the chief proponent of this shift was Steve Jobs, whose disruptiveness had emboldened the engineers and executives on the Lisa project to bounce him off, with the blessings of Apple's chairman and president. Despite Raskin's efforts, Jobs came across the Book of Macintosh, and was so impressed with Raskin's vision about a computer being as easy to use as a home appliance that it became part of Jobs's standard spiel for years thereafter. Jobs began to insinuate himself into the skunkworks project behind the Good Earth, and Raskin's pure vision was as good as gone. "It was clear that Macintosh was the most interesting thing at Apple-and Steve Jobs took it over," said Raskin. The takeover proceeded by increments. Steve Jobs was not a technical wizard, but he thoroughly understood the mindset of the people who were. So when he tossed a challenge to Burrell Smith, daring the young engineer to design a prototype Mac for the 68000 chip, the job was a cinch-despite knowing Raskin's loathing for the idea, Smith rose to the bait, and spent all of December 1980 to get it working.

Though Dhuey drove a Porsche and Berkeley was a Mercedes man, the pair got along well, swapping design notes and stuffing boards. Fearful of Steve Jobs's loathing of slots, however, they kept things quiet. In their memos they never used "the s-word." Apple's products czar Jean-Louis Cassee came across the project and benignly permitted it to continue, albeit as sort of a "background skunkworks," as Dhuey later put it. Looking at a photo in Dhuey's cubicle of the engineer's hometown skyline, the Frenchman renamed the project "Milwaukee." Subsequent code names of the Macintosh II included "Reno" (in honor of the slots), the overly militaristic "Uzi," and, ultimately, "Paris," an homage to Gassee. For the next few months the designers tried to figure out which features to put on their computer, hoping that it would win out over the other potential Open Macs going at Apple.


pages: 666 words: 181,495

In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives by Steven Levy

23andMe, AltaVista, Anne Wojcicki, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, autonomous vehicles, book scanning, Brewster Kahle, Burning Man, business process, clean water, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, Dean Kamen, discounted cash flows, don't be evil, Donald Knuth, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, El Camino Real, fault tolerance, Firefox, Gerard Salton, Gerard Salton, Google bus, Google Chrome, Google Earth, Googley, HyperCard, hypertext link, IBM and the Holocaust, informal economy, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, one-China policy, optical character recognition, PageRank, Paul Buchheit, Potemkin village, prediction markets, recommendation engine, risk tolerance, Rubik’s Cube, Sand Hill Road, Saturday Night Live, search inside the book, second-price auction, selection bias, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Skype, slashdot, social graph, social software, social web, spectrum auction, speech recognition, statistical model, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, trade route, traveling salesman, turn-by-turn navigation, undersea cable, Vannevar Bush, web application, WikiLeaks, Y Combinator

Publicly Google presented an attitude of calm engagement to the public, with Brin saying to reporters that his company welcomed the enhanced competition. But in Building 43, there was something of a freak-out. The search team set up a war room, hurriedly launching an effort dubbed the skunkworks. (That appellation, first used at Lockheed aircraft during World War II, is a generic term for an off-the-books engineering effort that operates outside a company’s stifling bureaucracy. The fact that Google needed a skunkworks was telling in itself.) Its OKR was to change the look of search 25 percent within a hundred days. Within the search team itself, Googlers engaged in finger-pointing and recriminations. Months earlier, Google search engineers had presented their bosses with a project that streamlined video search results and offered instant playback—but Google had rejected it.

But it worked—as Mayer explained, Google ran later A/B experiments that restored the box to its original size. Hundreds of people wrote emails complaining. “They said, ‘What’s going on with the search box? It’s so small there’s not even room to type!’” In another refinement, Google simplified the initial view of the home page by removing everything except its logo and the search box; when the user moved the mouse or typed, then the rest of the text would come into view. Though the skunkworks began with a sense of urgency, the pressure eventually subsided as it became clear that the survival of Google didn’t hinge on its efforts. At one point, Larry Page bounced its efforts, complaining that the redesign looked too much like Bing. Eventually, Google did release a revamped search results page, using a three-column view: in addition to the organic search results and the ads, there was a column to the left with various search options.

., 140 Playboy, 153–54, 155 pornography, blocking, 54, 97, 108, 173, 174 Postini, 241 Pregibon, Daryl, 118–19 Premium Sunset, 109, 112–13, 115 privacy: and Book Settlement, 363 and browsers, 204–12, 336–37 and email, 170–78, 211–12, 378 and Google’s policies, 10, 11, 145, 173–75, 333–35, 337–40 and Google Street View, 340–43 and government fishing expeditions, 173 and interest-based ads, 263, 334–36 and security breach, 268 and social networking, 378–79, 383 and surveillance, 343 Privacy International, 176 products: beta versions of, 171 “dogfooding,” 216 Google neglect of, 372, 373–74, 376, 381 in GPS meetings, 6, 135, 171 machine-driven, 207 marketing themselves, 77, 372 speed required in, 186 Project Database (PDB), 164 property law, 6, 360 Python, 18, 37 Qiheng, Hu, 277 Queiroz, Mario, 230 Rainert, Alex, 373, 374 Rajaram, Gokul, 106 Rakowski, Brian, 161 Randall, Stephen, 153 RankDex, 27 Rasmussen, Lars, 379 Red Hat, 78 Reese, Jim, 181–84, 187, 195, 196, 198 Reeves, Scott, 153 Rekhi, Manu, 373 Reyes, George, 70, 148 Richards, Michael, 251 robotics, 246, 351, 385 Romanos, Jack, 356 Rosenberg, Jonathan, 159–60, 281 Rosenstein, Justin, 369 Rosing, Wayne, 44, 55, 82, 155, 158–59, 186, 194, 271 Rubin, Andy, 135, 213–18, 220, 221–22, 226, 227–30, 232 Rubin, Robert, 148 Rubinson, Barry, 20–21 Rubinstein, Jon, 221 Sacca, Chris, 188–94 Salah, George, 84, 128, 129, 132–33, 166 Salinger Group, The, 190–91 Salton, Gerard, 20, 24, 40 Samsung, 214, 217 Samuelson, Pamela, 362, 365 Sandberg, Sheryl, 175, 257 and advertising, 90, 97, 98, 99, 107 and customer support, 231 and Facebook, 259, 370 Sanlu Group, 297–98 Santana, Carlos, 238 Schillace, Sam, 201–3 Schmidt, Eric, 107, 193 and advertising, 93, 95–96, 99, 104, 108, 110, 112, 114, 115, 117, 118, 337 and antitrust issues, 345 and Apple, 218, 220, 236–37 and applications, 207, 240, 242 and Book Search, 350, 351, 364 and China, 267, 277, 279, 283, 288–89, 305, 310–11, 313, 386 and cloud computing, 201 and financial issues, 69–71, 252, 260, 376, 383 and Google culture, 129, 135, 136, 364 and Google motto, 145 and growth, 165, 271 and IPO, 147–48, 152, 154, 155–57 on lawsuits, 328–29 and management, 4, 80–83, 110, 158–60, 165, 166, 242, 254, 255, 273, 386, 387 and Obama, 316–17, 319, 321, 346 and privacy, 175, 178, 383 and public image, 328 and smart phones, 216, 217, 224, 236 and social networking, 372 and taxes, 90 and Yahoo, 344, 345 and YouTube, 248–49, 260, 265 Schrage, Elliot, 285–87 Schroeder, Pat, 361 search: decoding the intent of, 59 failed, 60 freshness in, 42 Google as synonymous with, 40, 41, 42, 381 mobile, 217 organic results of, 85 in people’s brains, 67–68 real-time, 376 sanctity of, 275 statelessness of, 116, 332 verticals, 58 see also web searches search engine optimization (SEO), 55–56 search engines, 19 bigram breakage in, 51 business model for, 34 file systems for, 43–44 and hypertext link, 27, 37 information retrieval via, 27 and licensing fees, 77, 84, 95, 261 name detection in, 50–52 and relevance, 48–49, 52 signals to, 22 ultimate, 35 upgrades of, 49, 61–62 Search Engine Watch, 102 SearchKing, 56 SEC regulations, 149, 150–51, 152, 154, 156 Semel, Terry, 98 Sengupta, Caesar, 210 Seti, 65–67 Shah, Sonal, 321 Shapiro, Carl, 117 Shazeer, Noam, 100–102 Sheff, David, 153 Sherman Antitrust Act, 345 Shriram, Ram, 34, 72, 74, 79 Siao, Qiang, 277 Sidekick, 213, 226 signals, 21–22, 49, 59, 376 Silicon Graphics (SGI), 131–32 Silverstein, Craig, 13, 34, 35, 36, 43, 78, 125, 129, 139 Sina, 278, 288, 302 Singh, Sanjeev, 169–70 Singhal, Amit, 24, 40–41, 48–52, 54, 55, 58 Siroker, Dan, 319–21 skunkworks, 380–81 Skype, 233, 234–36, 322, 325 Slashdot, 167 Slim, Carlos, 166 SMART (Salton’s Magical Retriever of Text), 20 smart phones, 214–16, 217–22 accelerometers on, 226–28 carrier contracts for, 230, 231, 236 customer support for, 230–31, 232 direct to consumer, 230, 232 Nexus One, 230, 231–32 Smith, Adam, 360 Smith, Bradford, 333 Smith, Christopher, 284–86 Smith, Megan, 141, 158, 184, 258, 318, 350, 355–56 social graph, 374 social networking, 369–83 Sogou, 300 Sohu, 278, 300 Sony, 251, 264 Sooner (mobile operating system), 217, 220 Southworth, Lucinda, 254 spam, 53–57, 92, 241 Spector, Alfred, 65, 66–67 speech recognition, 65, 67 spell checking, 48 Spencer, Graham, 20, 28, 201, 375 spiders, 18, 19 Stanford University: and BackRub, 29–30 and Book Search, 357 Brin in, 13–14, 16, 17, 28, 29, 34 computer science program at, 14, 23, 27, 32 Digital Library Project, 16, 17 and Google, 29, 31, 32–33, 34 and MIDAS, 16 Page in, 12–13, 14, 16–17, 28, 29, 34 and Silicon Valley, 27–28 Stanley (robot), 246, 385 Stanton, Katie, 318, 321, 322, 323–25, 327 Stanton, Louis L., 251 State Department, U.S., 324–25 Steremberg, Alan, 18, 29 Stewart, Jon, 384 Stewart, Margaret, 207 Stricker, Gabriel, 186 Sullivan, Danny, 102 Sullivan, Stacy, 134, 140, 141, 143–44, 158–59 Summers, Larry, 90 Sun Microsystems, 28, 70 Swetland, Brian, 226, 228 Taco Town, 377 Tan, Chade-Meng, 135–36 Tang, Diane, 118 Taylor, Bret, 259, 370 Teetzel, Erik, 184, 197 Tele Atlas, 341 Tesla, Nikola, 13, 32, 106 Thompson, Ken, 241 3M, 124 Thrun, Sebastian, 246, 385–86 T-Mobile, 226, 227, 230 Tseng, Erick, 217, 227 Twentieth Century Fox, 249 Twitter, 309, 322, 327, 374–77, 387 Uline, 112 Universal Music Group, 261 Universal Search, 58–60, 294, 357 University of Michigan, 352–54, 357 UNIX, 54, 80 Upson, Linus, 210, 211–12 Upstartle, 201 Urchin Software, 114 users: in A/B tests, 61 data amassed about, 45–48, 59, 84, 144, 173–74, 180, 185, 334–37 feedback from, 65 focus on, 5, 77, 92 increasing numbers of, 72 predictive clues from, 66 and security breach, 268, 269 U.S.


pages: 611 words: 188,732

Valley of Genius: The Uncensored History of Silicon Valley (As Told by the Hackers, Founders, and Freaks Who Made It Boom) by Adam Fisher

Airbnb, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, Apple II, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Bob Noyce, Brownian motion, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, Byte Shop, cognitive dissonance, disintermediation, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, Elon Musk, frictionless, glass ceiling, Hacker Ethic, Howard Rheingold, HyperCard, hypertext link, index card, informal economy, information retrieval, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, Jeff Rulifson, John Markoff, Jony Ive, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, life extension, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Maui Hawaii, Menlo Park, Metcalfe’s law, Mother of all demos, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, new economy, nuclear winter, PageRank, Paul Buchheit, paypal mafia, peer-to-peer, Peter Thiel, pets.com, pez dispenser, popular electronics, random walk, risk tolerance, Robert Metcalfe, rolodex, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Skype, social graph, social web, South of Market, San Francisco, Startup school, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, telerobotics, The Hackers Conference, the new new thing, Tim Cook: Apple, tulip mania, V2 rocket, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, Y Combinator

John Couch: And so when they wouldn’t let him run the Lisa project he went around looking for something else to do. Michael Dhuey: And across the street was where the Mac group was, and the group had nobody in it except Jef Raskin. Dan Kottke: Jef’s outlook on the world was tiny, friendly machines—like a home appliance. Jef was completely obsessed with that. Steve Wozniak: Jef is the one who brought that idea to us. Andy Hertzfeld: The Mac was initially a skunkworks. At the time it was not an important project at Apple. It was a very minor thing. Randy Wigginton: And Steve went over to Macintosh where Jef Raskin was, and he and Jef did not mix well. Steve Jobs: Jef’s a shithead who sucks. Jef Raskin: Steve would have made an excellent king of France. Michael Dhuey: They lasted about a week together, because Jef realized that Steve was going to immediately take over the group, and so Jef came back to the executives and said, “He’s taking over my group, he’s wrecking everything!”

And I’m thinking, “What’s going on?” Randy Wigginton: Jef got shipped off to Siberia—you know Hooli? The roof? Jef was on the roof with the BBQ. Andy Hertzfeld: I find out that it was Jef Raskin’s desk, who was just exiled the previous day, he hadn’t had time to get his stuff. That was my first day. At that point Lisa was still two or three years away from shipping. The Macintosh group was a classic skunkworks operation: a breakaway engineering team tasked with the research and development of an alternate future. It’s the engineering equivalent of a special forces unit being sent on a long-range reconnaissance mission. Randy Wigginton: We had just gone through the horrible, abysmal Apple III. And Lisa just appeared to be going nowhere. So that’s why we sort of went off the grid. We were our own ragtag group of people, and you know we just wanted to go off and do our own thing.

Jane Metcalfe: We pushed it around to blow heat on people because it was cold and wet. People were getting sick; the water was literally coming through the roof. It’s like, “You can’t get sick! You can’t get sick! The magazine has to be at Macworld.” Michelle Battelle: Wired was supposed to launch right around January 15, 1993, because they were aiming for Macworld. Kristin Spence: That added to the whole vibe. It was a skunkworks operation in the extreme. We were so committed and passionate about what we were doing. We were living it 24/7. There would be times when we’d be working at one a.m.; there would be a handful of us working, we’d be cranking house music because the rave scene was blowing up and Eugene was deeply involved in it. The rave scene, the revolutionary aspect, we’re guerrilla revolutionary journalists!


pages: 464 words: 155,696

Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart Into a Visionary Leader by Brent Schlender, Rick Tetzeli

Albert Einstein, Apple II, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, Bob Noyce, Byte Shop, Charles Lindbergh, computer age, corporate governance, El Camino Real, Isaac Newton, John Markoff, Jony Ive, Kickstarter, Marc Andreessen, market design, McMansion, Menlo Park, Paul Terrell, popular electronics, QWERTY keyboard, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Tim Cook: Apple, Wall-E, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Catalog

A startup out to make its mark would have to come up with a computer that stood out from the rest, that gave schools, businesses, or consumers something they really couldn’t find anywhere else. Given this fierce competition, it’s easy to understand why Sculley and the Apple board sued Steve. With IBM and the makers of other MS-DOS-based clones dominating the market for PCs sold to corporations, Apple needed the school and university market more than ever. Workstations were quickly becoming the lab benches for many disciplines at research universities and in corporate R&D skunkworks. It was only natural that Apple would want to offer its own unique approach to these machines as well. Apple’s suit stalled Steve’s effort to move quickly, by making it difficult for NeXT to do basic things like arrange deals with suppliers, incorporate, hire employees, and so on. But Apple withdrew its legal challenge in January 1986, in part because Sculley finally decided he didn’t have the stomach for the public relations fallout of a court suit against a popular public figure.

But Apple didn’t have any great software applications ready to unveil, and Steve had no desire to offer any hardware that had been in the Amelio pipeline. He needed something new, and it had to have enough of his DNA to signal that serious changes were afoot. The personal computer business had been bereft of creativity and excitement for so long that it was now simply known as the “box” business. Steve needed a lot more than just another box. He found his answer in the skunkworks of a building several blocks away from the corporate offices. That’s where Jony Ive, the designer who had so impressed Fred Anderson, was toiling away. Ive, Apple’s head designer, was not yet a member of Steve’s inner circle. An unassuming self-starter who turned thirty at about the time that Steve arrived in 1997, Ive had signed on with Apple as a contract designer in 1992 when he still lived in London, working for a design consultancy called Tangerine.

Fadell became so exasperated with Motorola that he decided to develop his own prototypes for an Apple cellphone, the first featuring music and the second focusing on video and photos. Ironically, two other projects that started out having nothing to do with cellphones would come to have the greatest impact on Steve’s decision about what Apple would pursue next. One of these was called Project Purple. It was a skunkworks effort Steve had ordered up to devise a new approach to what was proving to be an elusive “form factor” for personal computing: an ultralight, portable device that resembled a tablet or a clipboard, with an interactive touch screen. The concept had thwarted Microsoft’s best researchers and engineers for years, but Steve believed that his guys could make headway where others had failed. There simply had to be a more direct and intuitive way for users to interact with a computer than a keyboard and a mouse.


pages: 94 words: 26,453

The End of Nice: How to Be Human in a World Run by Robots (Kindle Single) by Richard Newton

3D printing, Black Swan, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, Clayton Christensen, crowdsourcing, deliberate practice, disruptive innovation, fear of failure, Filter Bubble, future of work, Google Glasses, Isaac Newton, James Dyson, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, lateral thinking, Lean Startup, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Paul Erdős, Paul Graham, recommendation engine, rising living standards, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, social intelligence, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Y Combinator

Our love of causal sequences presses us to believe that Newton’s law of gravity truly came like a bolt out of the blue – somehow the causal result of “apple-strikes-head, therefore…” But as with Darwin’s theory of evolution and Edison’s invention of the lightbulb, the epiphanic moment is usually a long time coming. In fact it surfaces more often rather shyly and gradually, like a bear from its hibernation cave. And because it’s such a messy and indirect path, a boss cannot demand of his head engineer “You there, I require your team to have an epiphany on Thursday at 3pm latest.” Nor can a skunkworks team promise that it will have three “meetings” and on the third meeting it will have a moment of insight. Such epiphanies cannot be reached incrementally. You cannot navigate towards something if you do not know what it is or where it is. To demonstrate this, the cognitive scientist and writer Mark Changizi once published photographs of 18-months-worth of pages from his notebooks. The pages are dense with tiny hand-written notes and diagrams.


pages: 915 words: 232,883

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

air freight, Albert Einstein, Apple II, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, big-box store, Bob Noyce, Buckminster Fuller, Byte Shop, centre right, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, commoditize, computer age, computer vision, corporate governance, death of newspapers, don't be evil, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, El Camino Real, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, fixed income, game design, Golden Gate Park, Hacker Ethic, hiring and firing, Jeff Bezos, Johannes Kepler, John Markoff, Jony Ive, lateral thinking, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Mitch Kapor, Mother of all demos, Paul Terrell, profit maximization, publish or perish, Richard Feynman, Robert Metcalfe, Robert X Cringely, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, thinkpad, Tim Cook: Apple, Wall-E, Whole Earth Catalog

Jobs had resisted, thinking that BASIC was all the Apple II needed, but he told Atkinson, “Since you’re so passionate about it, I’ll give you six days to prove me wrong.” He did, and Jobs respected him ever after. By the fall of 1979 Apple was breeding three ponies to be potential successors to the Apple II workhorse. There was the ill-fated Apple III. There was the Lisa project, which was beginning to disappoint Jobs. And somewhere off Jobs’s radar screen, at least for the moment, there was a small skunkworks project for a low-cost machine that was being developed by a colorful employee named Jef Raskin, a former professor who had taught Bill Atkinson. Raskin’s goal was to make an inexpensive “computer for the masses” that would be like an appliance—a self-contained unit with computer, keyboard, monitor, and software all together—and have a graphical interface. He tried to turn his colleagues at Apple on to a cutting-edge research center, right in Palo Alto, that was pioneering such ideas.

Jobs became fascinated by a flat-screen technology developed by a firm near Palo Alto called Woodside Design, run by an eccentric engineer named Steve Kitchen. He also was impressed by another startup that made a touchscreen display that could be controlled by your finger, so you didn’t need a mouse. Together these might help fulfill Jobs’s vision of creating a “Mac in a book.” On a walk with Kitchen, Jobs spotted a building in nearby Menlo Park and declared that they should open a skunkworks facility to work on these ideas. It could be called AppleLabs and Jobs could run it, going back to the joy of having a small team and developing a great new product. Sculley was thrilled by the possibility. It would solve most of his management issues, moving Jobs back to what he did best and getting rid of his disruptive presence in Cupertino. Sculley also had a candidate to replace Jobs as manager of the Macintosh division: Jean-Louis Gassée, Apple’s chief in France, who had suffered through Jobs’s visit there.

The board had given final approval of his reorganization plan, which would proceed that week. Gassée would take over control of Jobs’s beloved Macintosh as well as other products, and there was no other division for Jobs to run. Sculley was still somewhat conciliatory. He told Jobs that he could stay on with the title of board chairman and be a product visionary with no operational duties. But by this point, even the idea of starting a skunkworks such as AppleLabs was no longer on the table. It finally sank in. Jobs realized there was no appeal, no way to warp the reality. He broke down in tears and started making phone calls—to Bill Campbell, Jay Elliot, Mike Murray, and others. Murray’s wife, Joyce, was on an overseas call when Jobs phoned, and the operator broke in saying it was an emergency. It better be important, she told the operator.


pages: 561 words: 163,916

The History of the Future: Oculus, Facebook, and the Revolution That Swept Virtual Reality by Blake J. Harris

4chan, airport security, Anne Wojcicki, Asian financial crisis, augmented reality, barriers to entry, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, call centre, computer vision, cryptocurrency, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, drone strike, Elon Musk, financial independence, game design, Grace Hopper, illegal immigration, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, Jony Ive, Kickstarter, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Minecraft, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, Oculus Rift, Peter Thiel, QR code, sensor fusion, side project, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Skype, slashdot, Snapchat, software patent, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, unpaid internship, white picket fence

But rather than plot out the possible permutations of what tomorrow might bring, Luckey decided that today—on this celebratory day; the day he sold his company to Facebook for more money than he could ever imagine—he would do something that he rarely ever did: he would stop looking forward and start thinking backward. Back to the beginning of how this whole crazy, extraordinary journey had started in the first place . . . Part 1 The Revolution Virtual Chapter 1 The Boy Who Lived to Mod April 10, 2012 UNLIKE SO MANY SILICON VALLEY SUCCESS STORIES, THE TALE OF OCULUS doesn’t begin in a garage, a dorm room, or a small skunkworks lab. Instead, in a twist befitting the humble origins and pragmatic eccentricities of its founder, the tale of Oculus begins in a trailer. More specifically: a beat-up, second-hand nineteen-foot camper trailer that, on the afternoon of April 10, was parked in the driveway of a modest, multifamily home in Long Beach, California. The bottom floor of this home belonged to the Luckeys—Donald, a car salesman, and Julie, a homemaker—and the trailer belonged to their nineteen-year-old son: Palmer.

“I know it’s a bit crazy to spend your free time doing something you spend your working hours on, but the goal here is not to create a commercial success, but to have fun, learn new things, and try out new ideas.” Shortly after this call to arms, a small crew of collaborators came together. In addition to Gunnarsson, there was graphic artist Andrew Robinson, software engineer David Gundry, and a pair of QA (quality assurance) analysts: Ian Shiels and Louisa Clarke. On paper and in person, this small skunkworks team had little in common. Except for two things: they all had relatively low-level roles working on CCP’s hit space adventure MMORPG EVE Online; and they all had been fascinated by VR for many, many years. “For me, it started in college,” Gunnarsson recounted to the team over beers, as they met at a local bar to discuss potential game ideas. “Games like D&D and Shadowrun. I was always just imagining how would it be if you could make a computer game in the future where you and your friends could go into VR and just go somewhere else and work together as a group.”

I was personally pushing the idea of something like D&D. But then—well, you should say . . .” “So I had this idea,” Louisa Clarke said. “Why don’t we just fly the fighters in Eve?” In essence, Clarke’s idea was to take the drone “fighters” from Eve Online, put players inside those ships, and then create around that a multiplayer dogfighting game. Conceptually, this idea quickly caught traction with CCP’s VR skunkworks team. But just as quickly, they began to encounter all sorts of challenges unique to designing a game for VR. For example: simulator sickness was a big issue. As was acclimating players to their virtual environment (while also “deprogramming” them from always looking straight ahead, like in a traditional game). But working around the clock and living by the motto “Don’t Stop ’til Sunset” enabled the team to put together a viable demo a few weeks before Fanfest was set to begin.


pages: 344 words: 96,690

Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies by Charlene Li, Josh Bernoff

business process, call centre, centre right, citizen journalism, crowdsourcing, demand response, Donald Trump, estate planning, Firefox, John Markoff, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, social intelligence, Tony Hsieh

Second, each of these stepping-stones leads in a natural progression to the next step. Supporting strategies can lead to talking, which can lead to embracing. You’ll need a plan and vision about where you want to take your organization, building a firm foundation from which you can push it up to the next challenging level of groundswell thinking. Third, you have to have executive support. Realistically, you may have to cobble together skunk-works projects to get something off the ground, but you better have in mind how you’re going to sell someone in upper management on groundswell thinking if you want your efforts and ideas to catch fire within the organization. In this chapter we’ll look at how organizations can master these three key elements of groundswell thinking to transform how their companies work with customers. Then in chapter 12 we’ll look at how companies can do this with their own employees, as members of the internal enterprise groundswell.

If Dell can get its customers to support each other and salesforce.com can get its customers to prioritize feature suggestions, why can’t your employees work together in the same way? They can. Throughout corporations around the world, employees are connecting on internal social networks, collaborating on wikis, and contributing to idea exchanges. Some of these applications came from management and others began as skunk-works projects, but what they have in common is this: they tap the power of the groundswell of ideas among the people who know best how your business runs, your employees. It’s a little scary to put this power in the hands of your workers. It doesn’t fit into a nice, neat org chart. But if you want to run faster and smarter, you ought to take a look at it. In this chapter we look at three kinds of internal groundswell applications: the community at Best Buy; wikis at Avenue A/Razorfish, Organic, and Intel; and an idea exchange at Bell Canada.


pages: 368 words: 96,825

Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World by Peter H. Diamandis, Steven Kotler

3D printing, additive manufacturing, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Charles Lindbergh, cloud computing, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dematerialisation, deskilling, disruptive innovation, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Exxon Valdez, fear of failure, Firefox, Galaxy Zoo, Google Glasses, Google Hangouts, gravity well, ImageNet competition, industrial robot, Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, John Harrison: Longitude, John Markoff, Jono Bacon, Just-in-time delivery, Kickstarter, Kodak vs Instagram, Law of Accelerating Returns, Lean Startup, life extension, loss aversion, Louis Pasteur, low earth orbit, Mahatma Gandhi, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Mars Rover, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, minimum viable product, move fast and break things, Narrative Science, Netflix Prize, Network effects, Oculus Rift, optical character recognition, packet switching, PageRank, pattern recognition, performance metric, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, pre–internet, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Richard Feynman, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, rolodex, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Skype, smart grid, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, superconnector, technoutopianism, telepresence, telepresence robot, Turing test, urban renewal, web application, X Prize, Y Combinator, zero-sum game

PART TWO: BOLD MINDSET Chapter Four: Climbing Mount Bold 1 “Skunk works,” Worldwidewords.com, http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-sku1.htm. 2 Lockheed Martin, “Skunk Works Origin Story,” Lockheedmartin.com, http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/aeronautics/skunkworks/origin.html. 3 Matthew E May, “The Rules of Successful Skunk Works Projects,” Fast Company, October 9, 2012, http://www.fastcompany.com/3001702/rules-successful-skunk-works-projects. 4 Unless otherwise noted, all Gary Latham and Edwin Locke quotes are taken from a series of AIs conducted in 2013. 5 Edwin Locke and Gary Latham, “New Directions in Goal-Setting Theory,” Current Directions in Psychological Science 15, no. 5 (2006): 265–68. 6 Lockheed Martin, “Kelly’s 14 Rules & Practices,” Lockheedmartin.com, http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/aeronautics/skunkworks/14rules.html. 7 Jeff Bezos, “2012 re: Invent Day 2: Fireside Chat with Jeff Bezos & Werner Vogels,” November 29, 2012.


pages: 328 words: 96,141

Rocket Billionaires: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the New Space Race by Tim Fernholz

Amazon Web Services, autonomous vehicles, business climate, Charles Lindbergh, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, Colonization of Mars, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, high net worth, Iridium satellite, Jeff Bezos, Kickstarter, low earth orbit, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, minimum viable product, multiplanetary species, mutually assured destruction, new economy, nuclear paranoia, paypal mafia, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, pets.com, planetary scale, private space industry, profit maximization, RAND corporation, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, sovereign wealth fund, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, trade route, undersea cable, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, X Prize, Y2K

US Air Force and NASA test pilots still push the envelope there, and it is where the space shuttle orbiter touched back down after its first trip to orbit. Residents here don’t find sonic booms or explosions too out of the ordinary, which makes it a perfect place for the aerospace tinkerers who’ve come to test their contraptions at a safe distance from the general population—and from skeptical corporate managers. Burt Rutan, the legendary aviation designer, operated his company Scaled Composites as a kind of private skunkworks here. A few groups—the Reaction Research Society, Friends of Amateur Rocketry, and the Mojave Desert Advanced Rocket Society—maintain engineering sites out there in the desert, complete with concrete bunkers, fueling stations, launchpads, and stands to hold engines in place during testing. Many members have day jobs back in LA, where for decades big contractors like Boeing, Lockheed, Northrop Grumman, and others have laid their production base.

“This spacecraft had never flown in an environment where it was approaching within thirty feet of another huge spacecraft . . . You could get a stuck thruster and it could zoom right into the station, and how do you protect from that?” The Dragon was a snub-nosed capsule almost ten feet tall and nearly thirteen feet wide at the base, where it was covered with a thick layer of heat shielding. Above that, it was studded with elliptical openings for eighteen Draco thrusters, another product of Mueller’s propulsion skunkworks. This time a simple thruster system was employed that relied on hypergolic fuels—chemicals that combust on contact, which are tricky to handle but the simplest way to generate small amounts of thrust in the vacuum of space. Inside, the storage lockers were empty except for 1,100 pounds of food and water. The interior volume was 350 cubic feet, 60 percent larger than the Apollo space capsule, though the shuttle orbiter’s cabin was more than six times bigger.


pages: 340 words: 97,723

The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity by Amy Webb

Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Airbnb, airport security, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, autonomous vehicles, Bayesian statistics, Bernie Sanders, bioinformatics, blockchain, Bretton Woods, business intelligence, Cass Sunstein, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, cognitive bias, complexity theory, computer vision, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Deng Xiaoping, distributed ledger, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Filter Bubble, Flynn Effect, gig economy, Google Glasses, Grace Hopper, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Inbox Zero, Internet of things, Jacques de Vaucanson, Jeff Bezos, Joan Didion, job automation, John von Neumann, knowledge worker, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, natural language processing, New Urbanism, one-China policy, optical character recognition, packet switching, pattern recognition, personalized medicine, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rodney Brooks, Rubik’s Cube, Sand Hill Road, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, SETI@home, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Skype, smart cities, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, strong AI, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, theory of mind, Tim Cook: Apple, trade route, Turing machine, Turing test, uber lyft, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, zero day

If these companies don’t present us with shinier products than the previous year, we talk about them as if they’re failures. Or we question whether AI is over. Or we question their leadership. Not once have we given these companies a few years to hunker down and work without requiring them to dazzle us at regular intervals. God forbid one of these companies decides not to make any official announcements for a few months—we assume that their silence implies a skunkworks project that will invariably upset us. The US government has no grand strategy for AI nor for our longer-term futures. So in place of coordinated national strategies to build organizational capacity inside the government, to build and strengthen our international alliances, and to prepare our military for the future of warfare, the United States has subjugated AI to the revolving door of politics.

Skilled craftspeople—carpenters, electricians, and plumbers—use mixed-reality glasses from Google, Microsoft, and a company called Magic Leap to see through walls, match their work with blueprints, and detect potential problems in advance. Creative uses for AI have filtered into the arts, including filmmaking. It’s the 20-year anniversary of Avatar, the movie from James Cameron that in 2009 looked otherworldly because of its hyper-realistic, computer-generated special effects. To celebrate, Cameron unveils an AI skunkworks project: the sixth Avatar film, which combines the underwater motion capture technology he developed earlier along with a new special computing environment and an over-the-ear retinal projection system. The experience was built using generative algorithms to design entirely new worlds for human avatars to explore, evolutionary algorithms for rendering, and deep learning to make all the necessary computations.


pages: 406 words: 105,602

The Startup Way: Making Entrepreneurship a Fundamental Discipline of Every Enterprise by Eric Ries

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, basic income, Ben Horowitz, Black-Scholes formula, call centre, centralized clearinghouse, Clayton Christensen, cognitive dissonance, connected car, corporate governance, DevOps, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, fault tolerance, Frederick Winslow Taylor, global supply chain, index card, Jeff Bezos, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, loss aversion, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, minimum viable product, moral hazard, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, obamacare, peer-to-peer, place-making, rent-seeking, Richard Florida, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, secular stagnation, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, skunkworks, Steve Jobs, the scientific method, time value of money, Toyota Production System, Uber for X, universal basic income, web of trust, Y Combinator

As we’ll see, great entrepreneurs can (and should) come from anywhere and everywhere within the organization. Great ideas sometimes appear in unexpected places. So the entrepreneurial function has to be integrated into the fabric of the organization very carefully. Modern companies need something more than just another innovation lab. They need something more than R&D and prototyping, something distinct from the secretive skunkworks projects of old. They need the ability to consistently and reliably make bets on high-risk, high-reward projects without having to bet the whole company. And they need to find, train, and retain the kinds of leaders who can pull this off. After witnessing and working with many companies, large and small, grappling with this, I believe we should simply call this function “entrepreneurship.” Startup as Atomic Unit of Work The first responsibility of the entrepreneurship function is to oversee the company’s internal startups.

Rather than risk it being canceled, Mahan took it underground, with a team of volunteers who continued to do their day jobs but kept the project alive on the side. Although they were cut off from official coaching in Lean Startup methods, they maintained their startup ethos and executed the plan from our original workshops. As Beth Comstock says, “His project didn’t get picked as one of the ones that was being tracked and funded and incubated, but he said, ‘Screw that, I’m still going to do it. It’s a good idea. I like this tool.’ He did a sort of skunkworks with Lean Startup, and it ended up getting him promoted.” In a perfect example of executive championship, Mahan had gone to his CEO to get support for the project, even though it was no longer officially a part of the FastWorks program. His team’s idea, as Steve Liguori puts it, was “to come up with the next generation of refrigerators, with radically different functions, LED lighting, crazy shelves that folded up in a snap and moved in all directions.


pages: 161 words: 39,526

Applied Artificial Intelligence: A Handbook for Business Leaders by Mariya Yao, Adelyn Zhou, Marlene Jia

Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, artificial general intelligence, autonomous vehicles, business intelligence, business process, call centre, chief data officer, computer vision, conceptual framework, en.wikipedia.org, future of work, industrial robot, Internet of things, iterative process, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Marc Andreessen, natural language processing, new economy, pattern recognition, performance metric, price discrimination, randomized controlled trial, recommendation engine, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, software is eating the world, source of truth, speech recognition, statistical model, strong AI, technological singularity

Initially, an automated support system can answer 20 to 30 percent of frequently asked questions, but accuracy can increase to over 80 percent and expand to more topics as the system learns over time.(49) Don’t Call It Artificial Intelligence When pitching your project, emphasize the value that new technology can deliver instead of the technical details of implementation. Karl Bunch, former SVP of Xaxis, a subsidiary of WPP, built a prototype of an algorithmic adtech trading platform with a small team of engineers working in their spare time. To keep expectations low, he refused to describe the technology as “machine learning” or “artificial intelligence” until after the system started showing great promise after a few quarters. What started out as a skunkworks project has now become a core part of Xaxis’s ad tech trading platform. Allay Fears of Sudden Job Loss Given the negative media hype surrounding AI, your employees understandably have concerns over their job security. You can allay these fears and promote a healthy work environment in which both humans and machines cooperate and thrive. Research finds that while 45 percent of tasks are automatable, only five percent of overall jobs have been supplanted by automation.(50) AI systems largely handle individual tasks, not whole jobs.


pages: 437 words: 126,860

Case for Mars by Robert Zubrin

Charles Lindbergh, Colonization of Mars, gravity well, Johannes Kepler, Kevin Kelly, low earth orbit, Mars Rover, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, planetary scale, skunkworks, spice trade, telerobotics, uranium enrichment

We were proposing the opposite approach: come up with some good ideas and then tell the customer what they need to hear, whether they like it or not. While not the most senior, the dominant figure at the meeting was Al SchallenmuUer, the newly appointed vice president of Martin Marietta Civil Space Systems, the subdivision of the company charged with responsibility for the SEI. Schallenmuller had cut his teeth as an engineer working for Kelly Johnson in Lockheed’s fabled Skunkworks. He knew that, if approached the right way, big and difficult programs could be accomplished cheap and fast. In 1976, he had been one of the key engineers on the Viking program. He could never refrain from talking about the thrill of seeing Viking’s first photograph of the Martian surface; Schallenmuller really wanted to get back to Mars. He knew that if nothing better than the 90-Day Report was on the table, there would be no program.

Upon completion, we presented the plan to the scenario development team and to a management group for scrutiny. Ben Clark wrote out several pages of tough questions and criticisms about the plan that we had to, and did, answer successfully in writing. Al Schallenmuller, the Martin Marietta Civil Space vice president, was very excited about the plan. Everything needed to accomplish our mission was near-term and relatively simple. Based on his Skunkworks experience, he agreed with my assessment that the Mars Direct plan held the potential for humans to Mars within ten years. He decided to fly us down to Marshall Space Flight Center, in Huntsville, Alabama, to present the plan to NASA. Neither Baker nor I expected the briefing at Marshall to be well received. Marshall is one of the most conservative of the NASA centers, and it seemed unlikely that any Marshall audience would be favorably inclined towards an idea as radical as Mars Direct.


pages: 567 words: 122,311

Lean Analytics: Use Data to Build a Better Startup Faster by Alistair Croll, Benjamin Yoskovitz

Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, barriers to entry, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Ben Horowitz, bounce rate, business intelligence, call centre, cloud computing, cognitive bias, commoditize, constrained optimization, en.wikipedia.org, Firefox, Frederick Winslow Taylor, frictionless, frictionless market, game design, Google X / Alphabet X, Infrastructure as a Service, Internet of things, inventory management, Kickstarter, lateral thinking, Lean Startup, lifelogging, longitudinal study, Marshall McLuhan, minimum viable product, Network effects, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, performance metric, place-making, platform as a service, recommendation engine, ride hailing / ride sharing, rolodex, sentiment analysis, skunkworks, Skype, social graph, social software, software as a service, Steve Jobs, subscription business, telemarketer, transaction costs, two-sided market, Uber for X, web application, Y Combinator

Initially, this can be intentionally distant, but as the disruptive product becomes part of the host, the handoff must be graceful. * * * [151] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skunkworks_project [152] http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/14/technology/at-google-x-a-top-secret-lab-dreaming-up-the-future.html?_r=2 [153] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_McCallum [154] http://beforeitsnews.com/banksters/2012/08/the-stanford-lectures-so-is-software-really-eating-the-world-2431478.html [155] Richard Templar, The Rules of Work (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, 2003), 142. [156] Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan, Confronting Reality (New York: Crown Business, 2004), 22–24. [157] http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/aeronautics/skunkworks/14rules.html [158] http://www.diffen.com/difference/Capex_vs_Opex [159] http://www.cnn.com/books/news/9906/18/netscape/ [160] http://ross.typepad.com/blog/2005/10/turn_on_a_dime.html [161] http://anders.com/cms/108 [162] http://scripting.com/1999/06/19.html [163] http://www.npr.org/2012/03/21/148607182/fostering-creativity-and-imagination-in-the-workplace [164] http://www.kinesisinc.com/business/how-spilt-coffee-created-a-billion-dollar-mop/ [165] http://www.dcontinuum.com/seoul/portfolio/11/89/ [166] http://www.fastcodesign.com/1671033/why-focus-groups-kill-innovation-from-the-designer-behind-swiffer [167] http://www.dachisgroup.com/case-studies/become-the-doritos-guru/ [168] http://www.packagingdigest.com/article/517188-Doritos_black_and_white_bags_invite_consumers_to_vote_for_new_flavor.php [169] http://thenextweb.com/ca/2011/02/05/online-campaign-asks-canadians-to-write-the-end-of-a-commercial/ [170] http://www.beloblog.com/ProJo_Blogs/newsblog/archives/2008/02/swiffer_invento.html [171] http://www.oldseadoos.com/ Chapter 31.


pages: 222 words: 54,506

One Click: Jeff Bezos and the Rise of Amazon.com by Richard L. Brandt

Amazon Web Services, automated trading system, big-box store, call centre, cloud computing, Dynabook, Elon Musk, inventory management, Jeff Bezos, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Marc Andreessen, new economy, science of happiness, search inside the book, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, software patent, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, Tony Hsieh, Whole Earth Catalog, Y2K

Services like this bring in half a billion dollars annually in revenues to Amazon. Buying companies is a relatively easy way for a stock-rich company to expand its business. But sometimes a great executive will stumble upon an unexpected new idea, or one of his employees may come up with something. The key is the ability to look beyond the current conventional wisdom and embrace a radical new idea. Jeff Bezos has that ability. He doesn’t create any structured “skunk-works” organization specifically tasked with the job of creating new businesses, but engineers within the company are given the opportunity to experiment, and good ideas are embraced quickly. That happened around the turn of the century, even as Amazon seemed to be sinking into the dot-com abyss. Internal tinkering by Amazon engineers led to a new business opportunity that put Amazon at the forefront of cloud computing.


pages: 561 words: 157,589

WTF?: What's the Future and Why It's Up to Us by Tim O'Reilly

4chan, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Alvin Roth, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, basic income, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Bill Joy: nanobots, bitcoin, blockchain, Bretton Woods, Brewster Kahle, British Empire, business process, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, computer vision, corporate governance, corporate raider, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, data acquisition, deskilling, DevOps, Donald Davies, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Filter Bubble, Firefox, Flash crash, full employment, future of work, George Akerlof, gig economy, glass ceiling, Google Glasses, Gordon Gekko, gravity well, greed is good, Guido van Rossum, High speed trading, hiring and firing, Home mortgage interest deduction, Hyperloop, income inequality, index fund, informal economy, information asymmetry, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invention of movable type, invisible hand, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, jitney, job automation, job satisfaction, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, Lao Tzu, Larry Wall, Lean Startup, Leonard Kleinrock, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, McMansion, microbiome, microservices, minimum viable product, mortgage tax deduction, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, obamacare, Oculus Rift, packet switching, PageRank, pattern recognition, Paul Buchheit, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer model, Ponzi scheme, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, randomized controlled trial, RFC: Request For Comment, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Gordon, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Coase, Sam Altman, school choice, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, SETI@home, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Skype, smart contracts, Snapchat, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, social web, software as a service, software patent, spectrum auction, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, strong AI, TaskRabbit, telepresence, the built environment, The Future of Employment, the map is not the territory, The Nature of the Firm, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Davenport, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, transportation-network company, Travis Kalanick, trickle-down economics, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, ubercab, universal basic income, US Airways Flight 1549, VA Linux, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, We are the 99%, web application, Whole Earth Catalog, winner-take-all economy, women in the workforce, Y Combinator, yellow journalism, zero-sum game, Zipcar

In the mid-1980s, I remember talking with one of the customers of my documentation consulting business, the author of a mainframe graphics library called DISSPLA (Display Integrated Software System and Plotting Language). He told me that he had to maintain more than 200 different versions of his software. The IBM Personal Computer, released in August 1981, changed all that. In 1980, realizing that they were missing out on the new microcomputer market, IBM set up a skunkworks project in Boca Raton, Florida, to develop the new machine. They made a critical decision: to cut costs and accelerate development they would develop an open architecture using industry-standard parts—including software licensed from third parties. The PC, as it was soon called, was an immediate hit when it was released in the fall of 1981. IBM’s projections had called for sales of 250,000 units in the first five years.

Web spidering seemed wasteful to me, since we had to download far more data than we needed and then extract just the bits we wanted. I was convinced that Amazon’s vast product catalog was a perfect example of the kind of rich data that ought to be programmatically accessible via a web services API in the next-generation “Internet operating system” I was evangelizing. Jeff was intrigued by the idea, and soon discovered that a skunkworks web services project, initiated by Amazon engineer Rob Frederick, was already under way. He discovered also that there were many other small companies like us that were spidering Amazon and building unauthorized interfaces to their data. Rather than trying to shut us down, he brought us all in to learn from each other and to help inform Amazon’s strategy. I vividly remember Jeff’s disappointment in my talk at this internal Amazon developer’s conference.


pages: 239 words: 70,206

Data-Ism: The Revolution Transforming Decision Making, Consumer Behavior, and Almost Everything Else by Steve Lohr

"Robert Solow", 23andMe, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, bioinformatics, business cycle, business intelligence, call centre, cloud computing, computer age, conceptual framework, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Danny Hillis, data is the new oil, David Brooks, East Village, Edward Snowden, Emanuel Derman, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Frederick Winslow Taylor, Google Glasses, impulse control, income inequality, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, informal economy, Internet of things, invention of writing, Johannes Kepler, John Markoff, John von Neumann, lifelogging, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, meta analysis, meta-analysis, money market fund, natural language processing, obamacare, pattern recognition, payday loans, personalized medicine, precision agriculture, pre–internet, Productivity paradox, RAND corporation, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, skunkworks, speech recognition, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, The Design of Experiments, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, unbanked and underbanked, underbanked, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!

Consumer behavior, then, was explained by a mere nine categories. The customer projects Haydock works on are short in length, usually four to eight months, and sharply aimed at a specific challenge the company is struggling with. When he departs, Haydock wants to leave insights and a path to future progress, some working technology, and a group of data believers inside the company. “It’s a really focused, skunkworks approach,” he says. “We don’t want a research project that never solves anything.” Haydock essentially leads a big-data SWAT team on each project, with a core of three people and a handful of pickup members with industry expertise. The permanent trio, besides Haydock, includes Paul Riedl, a crack programmer Haydock has known for twenty years; and Kevin Keene, a young data analyst who is a social-media expert.


pages: 244 words: 66,977

Subscribed: Why the Subscription Model Will Be Your Company's Future - and What to Do About It by Tien Tzuo, Gabe Weisert

3D printing, Airbnb, airport security, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, blockchain, Build a better mousetrap, business cycle, business intelligence, business process, call centre, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, connected car, death of newspapers, digital twin, double entry bookkeeping, Elon Musk, factory automation, fiat currency, Internet of things, inventory management, iterative process, Jeff Bezos, Kevin Kelly, Lean Startup, Lyft, manufacturing employment, minimum viable product, natural language processing, Network effects, Nicholas Carr, nuclear winter, pets.com, profit maximization, race to the bottom, ride hailing / ride sharing, Sand Hill Road, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, smart meter, social graph, software as a service, spice trade, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, subscription business, Tim Cook: Apple, transport as a service, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, Y2K, Zipcar

Say you’re switching from weekly to monthly service contracts, or switching pricing models from seats to usage. Your nice little linear model doesn’t respond well to change. Change one thing, change everything. Since everything is daisy-chained, if you make a quoting change at the top of your system, everything else gets affected in turn. After a few years of this, you’re left with all sorts of strange hacks, skunkworks, and scary closets. Second, when you want to change your pricing quickly, you can’t. A CFO of a $300 million software company once told me: “We’ve got great customers—they tell us what they’d like to see next. But our biggest challenge is always pricing and packaging. Even though we think we can make millions of dollars with a new capability, we’ll just throw it into our existing product for free because we don’t know how to price for it.


pages: 278 words: 83,468

The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries

3D printing, barriers to entry, call centre, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, commoditize, Computer Numeric Control, continuous integration, corporate governance, disruptive innovation, experimental subject, Frederick Winslow Taylor, Lean Startup, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Metcalfe’s law, minimum viable product, Mitch Kapor, Network effects, payday loans, Peter Thiel, pets.com, Ponzi scheme, pull request, risk tolerance, selection bias, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, skunkworks, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, the scientific method, Toyota Production System, transaction costs

We often frame internal innovation challenges by asking, How can we protect the internal startup from the parent organization? I would like to reframe and reverse the question: How can we protect the parent organization from the startup? In my experience, people defend themselves when they feel threatened, and no innovation can flourish if defensiveness is given free rein. In fact, this is why the common suggestion to hide the innovation team is misguided. There are examples of one-time successes using a secret skunkworks or off-site innovation team, such as the building of the original IBM PC in Boca Raton, Florida, completely separate from mainline IBM. But these examples should serve mostly as cautionary tales, because they have rarely led to sustainable innovation.2 Hiding from the parent organization can have long-term negative consequences. Consider it from the point of view of the managers who have the innovation sprung on them.


The Buddha and the Badass: The Secret Spiritual Art of Succeeding at Work by Vishen Lakhiani

Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, call centre, Colonization of Mars, crowdsourcing, deliberate practice, Elon Musk, fundamental attribution error, future of work, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, iterative process, Jeff Bezos, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, performance metric, Peter Thiel, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Skype, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, web application, white picket fence

Sometimes it’s simply the act of saying no or walking away from a situation. People who live from a place of making a positive difference for the world in what they do, have a higher bar of integrity. Like my friend Tom Chi. He has always inspired me with his commitment to using business as a vehicle for good in the world. Tom is an inventor, author, speaker, and cofounder of X Development, sometimes called Google X, Google’s semi-secret skunkworks lab (now a subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet). A few years back Tom ran a think tank in Silicon Valley in which I was an investor. Large companies hired him and his team to help solve their tactical problems. At one point, a major beverage manufacturer approached Tom to solve its marketing hurdle. Teenagers were not buying enough of their product. As the story goes, Tom looked at the executives seated across from him and said, “You do understand that your product has a high correlation with obesity and diabetes, don’t you?”


Revolution in the Valley: The Insanely Great Story of How the Mac Was Made by Andy Hertzfeld

Apple II, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, HyperCard, John Markoff, Mitch Kapor, Paul Graham, side project, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak

contributed by Susan Kare Pirate Flag August 1983 The Mac Team hoists a pirate flag In January 1983, just after the Lisa introduction, the Mac team held another off-site retreat in Carmel (see “Credit Where Due” on page 135). Steve Jobs opened the retreat with three of his now-famous “Sayings from Chairman Jobs.” 1. Real artists ship. 2. It’s better to be a pirate than join the navy. 3. Mac in a book by 1986. I think the “pirates” remark addressed the feeling among some of the earlier team members that the Mac group was getting too large and bureaucratic. We had started out as a rebellious skunkworks, much like Apple itself, and Steve wanted us to preserve our original spirit even as we were growing more like the Navy every day. In fact, we were growing so fast that we needed to move again. So, in August of 1983, we moved across the street to a larger building that was unimaginatively designated “Bandley 3.” I had worked there before, in 1980, when Apple had initially built it to house the original engineering organization.


pages: 321 words: 89,109

The New Gold Rush: The Riches of Space Beckon! by Joseph N. Pelton

3D printing, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Buckminster Fuller, Carrington event, Colonization of Mars, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, full employment, global pandemic, Google Earth, gravity well, Iridium satellite, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, life extension, low earth orbit, Lyft, Mark Shuttleworth, Mark Zuckerberg, megacity, megastructure, new economy, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, post-industrial society, private space industry, Ray Kurzweil, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Thomas Malthus, Tim Cook: Apple, Tunguska event, uber lyft, urban planning, urban sprawl, wikimedia commons, X Prize

Others at SpaceX, Bigelow Aerospace, Virgin Galactic, Boeing, Sierra Nevada, Blue Origin, British Aerospace, XCOR Aerospace, Orbital Sciences ATK, Kelly Space and Technology, Swiss Spaceplane Systems, Reaction Engines Ltd, Stratolauncher, etc., are seriously working to engineer and build new spaceplanes and commercial launch systems These are just some of the new cadre of New Space enterprises working away to create the new commercial space industries . Meanwhile enterprises such as Lockheed Martin Skunkworks have shown us how we can unlock the energy of the Sun right here on Earth. Others such as the Blue Brain project, headed by Professor Henry Markram in Switzerland, are busily seeking to create artificial intelligence with the equivalence of the human brain. The synergy of the all these enterprises will be critical to the ultimate achievement of this breakthrough economy. This breakthrough to a new type of world has been anticipated for some time.


pages: 372 words: 89,876

The Connected Company by Dave Gray, Thomas Vander Wal

A Pattern Language, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, Atul Gawande, Berlin Wall, business cycle, business process, call centre, Clayton Christensen, commoditize, complexity theory, creative destruction, David Heinemeier Hansson, disruptive innovation, en.wikipedia.org, factory automation, Googley, index card, industrial cluster, interchangeable parts, inventory management, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, loose coupling, low cost airline, market design, minimum viable product, more computing power than Apollo, profit maximization, Richard Florida, Ruby on Rails, self-driving car, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, software as a service, South of Market, San Francisco, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tony Hsieh, Toyota Production System, Vanguard fund, web application, WikiLeaks, Zipcar

Rather than start with a “concept” to be proved, start your pilot with a “hypothesis,” which can be proved or disproved. Either way, you are learning something new. A pilot pod doesn’t have to be a whole new company. It can be a small experiment, like a new service or a cross-disciplinary initiative. But in order to learn and deliver real innovation, a pod must be independent and connected to the environment. That means that, unlike skunkworks or black box–type innovation efforts, pilot pods need to operate in the field, with real customers. Network Weaving If you’re not the CEO and you can’t find a way to launch a pilot pod, then your last resort is network weaving. Network weaving is the most common approach being taken by most large companies today that have decided that they want to become more connected. The concept is that better networks and more connections can make companies more effective and adaptive.


pages: 788 words: 223,004

Merchants of Truth: The Business of News and the Fight for Facts by Jill Abramson

23andMe, 4chan, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Alexander Shulgin, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Charles Lindbergh, Chelsea Manning, citizen journalism, cloud computing, commoditize, corporate governance, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, digital twin, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, East Village, Edward Snowden, Ferguson, Missouri, Filter Bubble, future of journalism, glass ceiling, Google Glasses, haute couture, hive mind, income inequality, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, Joseph Schumpeter, Khyber Pass, late capitalism, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Nate Silver, new economy, obamacare, Occupy movement, performance metric, Peter Thiel, phenotype, pre–internet, race to the bottom, recommendation engine, Robert Mercer, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Snapchat, social intelligence, social web, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, technoutopianism, telemarketer, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, WikiLeaks

People were spending more time on what they chose to read, although anything longer than 10 seconds per click was considered on the long side. Readers were spending several hours a week on the web. The Times reported that its online readership spent 25 minutes per month reading its online offerings. (For the print newspaper, the average was 25 minutes per day.) Peretti had a theory: content would become a form of conversation on the internet. He approached Huffington about setting up a skunkworks team that would run experiments on how and what people shared with each other online. She gave him the go-ahead, provided that he would export his best findings to the Huffington Post. With her blessing, he set out to fill the new power vacuum he had identified. Years later Lerer would recall this pivotal moment. “Arianna caught the SEO wave,” he told me. “Then the world started to change and Jonah caught the social wave.”

The old, diurnal news cycle gave way to the 24/7 news cycle in a world in which people got updates constantly (and, to a degree, passively) from their smartphones, as if staying informed via an IV drip. • • • Now that a growing share of the population was connected through online social networks and their connections could travel with them wherever they went, Peretti decided to break away from Huffington entirely and devote himself full time to his skunkworks. With seed funding from Lerer and John Johnson, he was able to hire a few engineers and lease an office in Chinatown, on the third floor of a shabby walkup on Canal Street above a Mahjong bar once home to Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang Party. For now, he was calling his new company Contagious Media LLC. As a cofounder of Huffington Post, Peretti could one day expect a behemoth payday, though he’d have to wait another five years until AOL bought the company for $315 million.


pages: 193 words: 98,671

The Inmates Are Running the Asylum by Alan Cooper

Albert Einstein, business cycle, delayed gratification, Donald Trump, Howard Rheingold, informal economy, iterative process, Jeff Bezos, lateral thinking, Menlo Park, natural language processing, new economy, pets.com, Robert X Cringely, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, telemarketer, urban planning

Let your competitors fight among one another while you leap directly to providing your customers what they desire most. For example, in the early 1990s, Borland International was a serious player in the Windows software market, and I had the opportunity to learn about its business while I did some consulting there. The company was a remarkable marriage of highly skilled businesspeople and razor-sharp software engineers. Seemingly every day I was introduced to another impressive skunk-works project. A top-notch businessperson and an equally bright software engineer headed each such project. Each project had similar qualities: cool technology, clearly demonstrated market need, obvious commercial potential, and bright people. At first, the effect of seeing so many talented people at work on such cool stuff was impressive. But after a while, the true nature of these projects became apparent: Very few of these awesome projects ever actually shipped.


pages: 327 words: 102,322

Losing the Signal: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of BlackBerry by Jacquie McNish, Sean Silcoff

Albert Einstein, Clayton Christensen, corporate governance, diversified portfolio, indoor plumbing, Iridium satellite, patent troll, QWERTY keyboard, rolodex, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Skype, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, the new new thing

After five days of BBM messaging in Florida, his mother wanted a BlackBerry. “She didn’t even own a cellphone,” says Wormald. “She was hooked. If you had asked me then, ‘Are you going to kill phone calls with this,’ I would have said yes.” Back at RIM, not everyone was enamored of the BBM trio spending so much time on a self-directed pursuit outside of their duties, known in industry parlance as a “skunkworks” project. Klassen’s boss would shoo Wormald away if he saw him in the building, scolding him for distracting Klassen from his duties; and he gave Klassen a bad performance review—for spending time creating BBM. “Getting something to happen often takes a certain amount of self-initiative,” says Klassen. “There was a lot of work done during evenings and weekends.” Finally, the BBM group was ready for the big test: winning Lazaridis’s approval.


pages: 370 words: 97,138

Beyond: Our Future in Space by Chris Impey

3D printing, Admiral Zheng, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, AltaVista, Berlin Wall, Buckminster Fuller, butterfly effect, California gold rush, carbon-based life, Charles Lindbergh, Colonization of Mars, cosmic abundance, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, discovery of DNA, Doomsday Clock, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Eratosthenes, Haight Ashbury, Hyperloop, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, life extension, low earth orbit, Mahatma Gandhi, Marc Andreessen, Mars Rover, mutually assured destruction, Oculus Rift, operation paperclip, out of africa, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, phenotype, private space industry, purchasing power parity, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, risk tolerance, Rubik’s Cube, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Searching for Interstellar Communications, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Skype, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, supervolcano, technological singularity, telepresence, telerobotics, the medium is the message, the scientific method, theory of mind, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, wikimedia commons, X Prize, Yogi Berra

He tweeted, “Between this flight and Grasshopper tests I think we now have all the pieces of the puzzle to bring the rocket home.”4 Grasshopper has metal struts for legs and is designed to land back on its launchpad, like a cartoon rocket. A small prototype made eight successful test flights between 2011 and 2013, and the full-size Falcon 9 version made its first test flight early in 2014. Grasshopper is designed to fly to 90 kilometers (54 miles), just short of the Kármán line, and land as accurately as a helicopter. Other active players have promising prototypes about to emerge from skunkworks projects, so Elon Musk needs to keep innovating. He’s said that when SpaceX covers its costs with satellite launches and supply runs to the Space Station, he will turn his attention to Mars. Virgin Galactic has competition for suborbital tourist business from XCOR. The Texas-based company is developing the Lynx rocket plane, which is designed to carry a pilot and a paying passenger up 100 kilometers and down in just under half an hour.


pages: 372 words: 101,678

Lessons from the Titans: What Companies in the New Economy Can Learn from the Great Industrial Giants to Drive Sustainable Success by Scott Davis, Carter Copeland, Rob Wertheimer

3D printing, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, additive manufacturing, Airbnb, airport security, barriers to entry, business cycle, business process, clean water, commoditize, coronavirus, corporate governance, COVID-19, Covid-19, disruptive innovation, Elon Musk, factory automation, global pandemic, hydraulic fracturing, Internet of things, iterative process, low cost airline, low cost carrier, Marc Andreessen, megacity, Network effects, new economy, Ponzi scheme, profit maximization, random walk, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, six sigma, skunkworks, software is eating the world, strikebreaker, Toyota Production System, Uber for X, winner-take-all economy

Stanley Black & Decker’s legacy of innovation was excellent, but more incremental than transformational. Like other corporate initiatives, innovation went through a tightly managed process. Voice-of-the-customer studies brought direction, with set financial hurdles and a steady march toward go/no-go decisions. That process increases productivity and helps deliver what customers want, but it inhibits free thinking and true breakthroughs. The work on innovation started in 2014 with a skunkworks team. It used different systems and had its own rhythm, with quarterly progress checks instead of tight management along a defined innovation path. It was kept small and agile to enhance flexibility. The mandate was to create new products with at least $100 million in potential. The result, SBD’s FlexVolt, far exceeded that hurdle. FlexVolt dramatically expands the options for cordless power tools, allowing users to choose between the normal 20-volt operation and much higher voltage levels.


pages: 365 words: 96,573

Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor

Albert Einstein, epigenetics, Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury, Khan Academy, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, Mason jar, placebo effect, randomized controlled trial, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Skype, stem cell

You can practice this perfect breathing for a few minutes, or a few hours. There is no such thing as having too much peak efficiency in your body. Olsson told me he’s working on several more devices to help us breathe at this rate—slowly and less. He’s finishing production on his BreathIQ, a portable device that measures nitric oxide, carbon dioxide, ammonia, and other chemicals in exhaled breath. Then there are other skunkworks to mimic the effects of perfect breathing: a carbon dioxide suit, a hat, and . . . Meanwhile, Google just released an app that pops up automatically when the words “breathing exercise” are searched. It trains visitors to inhale and exhale every 5.5 seconds. Down the street from my house is a startup called Spire, which created a device that tracks breath rate and alerts users every time respiration becomes too fast or disjointed.


pages: 431 words: 107,868

The Great Race: The Global Quest for the Car of the Future by Levi Tillemann

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, car-free, carbon footprint, cleantech, creative destruction, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, demand response, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, energy security, factory automation, global value chain, hydrogen economy, index card, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, manufacturing employment, market design, megacity, Nixon shock, obamacare, oil shock, Ralph Nader, RFID, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, self-driving car, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, smart cities, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, Steve Jobs, Tesla Model S, too big to fail, Unsafe at Any Speed, zero-sum game, Zipcar

Because of that, he thought, they had a chance. From Darwin to Adelaide What could be a better symbol of GM and Hughes’s new partnership than winning a race filled with cars of the future? With the right team Wilson reckoned they could build a winner. But there was one catch: Wilson didn’t actually want to use any engineers from GM—at least not GM proper. To build the solar-powered racer, Wilson wanted his own automotive skunkworks. That term derived from the famously innovative, nimble, secretive, and independent division of the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation responsible for some of the company’s most advanced projects. Wilson was an aerospace guy and he wanted to work with that kind of team—innovative Californians, not a bunch of Rust Belt “gearheads.” He asked around town and kept hearing the same name: AeroVironment.


pages: 380 words: 104,841

The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us by Diane Ackerman

23andMe, 3D printing, additive manufacturing, airport security, Albert Einstein, augmented reality, back-to-the-land, carbon footprint, clean water, dark matter, dematerialisation, double helix, Drosophila, epigenetics, Google Earth, Google Glasses, haute cuisine, Internet of things, Loebner Prize, Louis Pasteur, Masdar, mass immigration, megacity, microbiome, nuclear winter, personalized medicine, phenotype, Ray Kurzweil, refrigerator car, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, skunkworks, Skype, stem cell, Stewart Brand, the High Line, theory of mind, urban planning, urban renewal, Whole Earth Catalog

He looks strong and solid enough to carry a hod full of bricks, but he would be the first to suggest that the bricks might not resemble any you’ve ever known. They might even saunter, reinvent themselves, refuse to be stacked, devise their own mortar, fight back, explore, breed more of their kind, and boast a nimble curiosity about the world. Splendor can be bricklike, if graced by complexity. His lab building at Cornell University is home to many a skunkworks project in computer sciences or engineering, including some of DARPA’s famous design competitions (agile robots to clean up toxic disasters, superhero exoskeletons for soldiers, etc.). Nearby, two futuristic DARPA Challenge cars have been left like play-worn toys a few steps from a display case of antique engineering marvels and an elevator that’s old and slow as a butter churn. On the second floor, a black spider-monkey-like robot clings to the top left corner of Lipson’s office door, intriguing but inscrutable, except to the inner circle for whom it’s a wry symbol and tradesman’s sign of the sort colonial shopkeepers used to hang out to identify their business: the apothecary’s mortar and pestle, the chandler’s candles, the cabinetmaker’s hickory-spindled armchair, the roboticist’s apprentice.


Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution by Howard Rheingold

A Pattern Language, augmented reality, barriers to entry, battle of ideas, Brewster Kahle, Burning Man, business climate, citizen journalism, computer vision, conceptual framework, creative destruction, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, experimental economics, experimental subject, Extropian, Hacker Ethic, Hedy Lamarr / George Antheil, Howard Rheingold, invention of the telephone, inventory management, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Joi Ito, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, Metcalfe's law, Metcalfe’s law, more computing power than Apollo, New Urbanism, Norbert Wiener, packet switching, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer model, pez dispenser, planetary scale, pre–internet, prisoner's dilemma, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, Renaissance Technologies, RFID, Richard Stallman, Robert Metcalfe, Robert X Cringely, Ronald Coase, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, slashdot, social intelligence, spectrum auction, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, the scientific method, transaction costs, ultimatum game, urban planning, web of trust, Whole Earth Review, zero-sum game

Groups of people using these tools will gain new forms of social power, new ways to organize their interactions and exchanges just in time and just in place. Tomorrow’s fortunes will be made by the businesses that find a way to profit from these changes, and yesterday’s fortunes are already being lost by businesses that don’t understand them. As with the personal computer and the Internet, key breakthroughs won’t come from established industry leaders but from the fringes, from skunkworks and startups and even associations of amateurs. Especially associations of amateurs. Although it will take a decade to ramp up, mobile communications and pervasive computing technologies, together with social contracts that were never possible before, are already beginning to change the way people meet, mate, work, fight, buy, sell, govern, and create. Some of these changes are beneficial and empowering, and some amplify the capabilities of people whose intentions are malignant.


pages: 385 words: 103,561

Pinpoint: How GPS Is Changing Our World by Greg Milner

Ayatollah Khomeini, British Empire, creative destruction, data acquisition, Dava Sobel, different worldview, digital map, Edmond Halley, Eratosthenes, experimental subject, Flash crash, friendly fire, Hedy Lamarr / George Antheil, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, John Harrison: Longitude, Kevin Kelly, land tenure, lone genius, low earth orbit, Mars Rover, Mercator projection, place-making, polynesian navigation, precision agriculture, race to the bottom, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, smart grid, the map is not the territory

HP’s 35,000 employees made it one of America’s ten largest manufacturers. It was a remarkably fecund period for HP, as scores of those 35,000, with tacit approval from the very top and active approval from middle managers, went looking for the next big thing. In 1973, an HP engineer named Ralph Eschenbach transferred to the company’s corporate labs after five years in a division that made semiconductors. Corporate labs was a skunkworks R & D division, and employees were expected to devote about one-third of their time to ideas that might lead to an innovative product somewhere down the line. “It didn’t need to be officially funded and sanctioned,” Eschenbach says. “You just went and did it on your own.” A year into his stint there, Eschenbach read about GPS in a trade magazine. An avid sailor, he immediately understood its utility.


pages: 549 words: 116,200

With a Little Help by Cory Efram Doctorow, Jonathan Coulton, Russell Galen

autonomous vehicles, big-box store, Burning Man, call centre, carbon footprint, death of newspapers, don't be evil, game design, Google Earth, high net worth, lifelogging, margin call, Mark Shuttleworth, offshore financial centre, packet switching, Ponzi scheme, rolodex, Sand Hill Road, sensible shoes, skunkworks, Skype, traffic fines, traveling salesman, Turing test, urban planning, Y2K

Probably an inept spambot. 2954 But. 2955 Maybe it's BIGMAC, out there, in the wild, painfully reassembling himself on compromised 32-bit machines running his patchkit. 2956 Maybe. 2957 ~~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~ 2958 Afterword: 2959 Mark Shuttleworth of the Ubuntu project and Canonical commissioned this story; I'd always planned on selling off one commission for this volume, thinking that $10,000 would probably be a good sum to grab some publicity when/if someone bought it. I mentioned it over lunch and Mark immediately said he'd buy it. At that point, I realized I probably should have asked for $20,000. 2960 Mark's brief to me was this: 2961 *It's 2037 and a company has built an AI as a skunkworks initiative. The AI is emergent behaviour from a network of tens / hundreds of thousands of servers in a large-scale data center, that costs a lot to run. The company has hit the wall and so the lights are going to get turned out, but some of the people involved figure that turning off the DC is tantamount to the murder of a sentient being. So begins a race against time, which might involve solving or at least raising some of the thorny jurisdiction and jurisprudence issues of "what are the rights of a bankrupt / dying AI". 2962 As bisto, maybe there's a defense angle (the company was doing work for the DoD, nobody knows about the AI).


pages: 380 words: 118,675

The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone

airport security, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, bank run, Bernie Madoff, big-box store, Black Swan, book scanning, Brewster Kahle, buy and hold, call centre, centre right, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, collapse of Lehman Brothers, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Danny Hillis, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, facts on the ground, game design, housing crisis, invention of movable type, inventory management, James Dyson, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, Kodak vs Instagram, late fees, loose coupling, low skilled workers, Maui Hawaii, Menlo Park, Network effects, new economy, optical character recognition, pets.com, Ponzi scheme, quantitative hedge fund, recommendation engine, Renaissance Technologies, RFID, Rodney Brooks, search inside the book, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, skunkworks, Skype, statistical arbitrage, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Thomas L Friedman, Tony Hsieh, Whole Earth Catalog, why are manhole covers round?, zero-sum game

“I firmly believe that at some point the vast majority of books will be in electronic form,” he said in the late 1990s. “I also believe that is a long way in the future, many more than ten years in the future.”6 Bezos was underestimating the potential, perhaps intentionally. In 2004, seeking a digital strategy for Amazon amid the gathering power of a revived Apple Computer, he started a secretive Silicon Valley skunkworks with the mysterious name Lab126. The hardware hackers at Lab126 were given a difficult job: they were to disrupt Amazon’s own successful bookselling business with an e-book device while also meeting the impossibly high standards of Amazon’s designer in chief, Bezos himself. In order for Amazon to furnish its new digital library, the company’s liaisons to the book world were ordered to push publishers to embrace a seemingly dormant format.


pages: 390 words: 114,538

Digital Wars: Apple, Google, Microsoft and the Battle for the Internet by Charles Arthur

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, AltaVista, Build a better mousetrap, Burning Man, cloud computing, commoditize, credit crunch, crowdsourcing, disintermediation, don't be evil, en.wikipedia.org, Firefox, gravity well, Jeff Bezos, John Gruber, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Network effects, PageRank, pre–internet, Robert X Cringely, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Skype, slashdot, Snapchat, software patent, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, the new new thing, the scientific method, Tim Cook: Apple, turn-by-turn navigation, upwardly mobile

Digital downloads were a rounding error on any music company’s business, where CD sales annually generated about $15 billion (though, worryingly for the record labels, the value of year-on-year sales had fallen off in 2000, for the first time ever). Besides cinemas and TV, the only effective way of watching a film was via VHS videotapes and DVDs; barely anyone had broadband at home. Microsoft’s staff were running a ‘skunkworks’ – a laboratory of unofficial experimental projects – in the then brand new Building 50 where the new eHome division had 200 engineers trying to turn Microsoft into, as Greene put it, ‘the Sony of the 21st century’. J Allard, whose 1994 memo had sold Bill Gates on the idea of the internet, was now lead technologist on the Xbox. He explained: ‘This is the way to build a whole new Microsoft.’ Bach and Allard’s shared vision was of the ‘digital home’, a place where everything knitted together, via Microsoft software: the TV talking to the games console talking to the computer talking to everything else digital around the home.


pages: 387 words: 120,155

Inside the Nudge Unit: How Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference by David Halpern

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, availability heuristic, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, centre right, choice architecture, cognitive dissonance, collaborative consumption, correlation does not imply causation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, different worldview, endowment effect, happiness index / gross national happiness, hedonic treadmill, hindsight bias, IKEA effect, illegal immigration, job satisfaction, Kickstarter, libertarian paternalism, light touch regulation, longitudinal study, market design, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, nudge unit, peer-to-peer lending, pension reform, presumed consent, QR code, quantitative easing, randomized controlled trial, Richard Thaler, Right to Buy, Ronald Reagan, Rory Sutherland, Simon Kuznets, skunkworks, the built environment, theory of mind, traffic fines, twin studies, World Values Survey

The wheels of the civil service had already started to turn, seeking to interpret what it was that the new government wanted – or at least a compromise between what the new government wanted and what the civil service thought would be a good idea. The higher rungs of the Cabinet Office had even started to identify people and a nascent team. In the British system, unlike the US, such appointments are almost always made by the civil service, not the politicians – whether rightly or wrongly.5 Several ideas were being put together. Rohan was clear that it should be a ‘skunk-work’- style unit, based on the famous group of outsiders set up by Lockheed-Martin and charged with coming up with radical new designs for aircraft that its normal teams would not have considered. For others, including parts of the Department of Business, its primary focus should be on deregulation, or at least on slimmer and lighter touch regulation somewhat along the lines being pursued by Cass Sunstein in the USA.


pages: 497 words: 124,144

Red Moon Rising by Matthew Brzezinski

Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Columbine, cuban missile crisis, Kitchen Debate, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, skunkworks, trade route, Vanguard fund, walking around money, white picket fence

The custom-made film and 500-pound Hycon camera were the only outward clues as to the plane’s true purpose. Otherwise, it had no markings, identification numbers, or insignias. No running lights winked under its dark fuselage, which had been painted dull black to better blend in with the night sky. Nowhere in its equally anonymous innards was there a manufacturer’s seal or anything else that would betray that the CL-282 Aquatone had been assembled at the top-secret Lockheed Skunkworks plant in Burbank, California. Officially, the CL-282—or the U-2, as it would eventually be called—did not exist. Neither did the pilot, E. K. Jones, who was going through his own preflight routine in a small, barrack-style building near the runway. Like the twenty-man Quickmove mobile maintenance team and the fuel drums they had brought with them, Jones had been flown in the day before from the U-2 main staging base in Adana, Turkey, to minimize American exposure to prying Pakistani eyes.


pages: 413 words: 119,587

Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robots by John Markoff

"Robert Solow", A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, AI winter, airport security, Apple II, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Bill Duvall, bioinformatics, Brewster Kahle, Burning Man, call centre, cellular automata, Chris Urmson, Claude Shannon: information theory, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, collective bargaining, computer age, computer vision, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, DARPA: Urban Challenge, data acquisition, Dean Kamen, deskilling, don't be evil, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Hofstadter, Dynabook, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, factory automation, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, future of work, Galaxy Zoo, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Grace Hopper, Gunnar Myrdal, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Hacker Ethic, haute couture, hive mind, hypertext link, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invention of the wheel, Jacques de Vaucanson, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Conway, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, labor-force participation, loose coupling, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, medical residency, Menlo Park, Mitch Kapor, Mother of all demos, natural language processing, new economy, Norbert Wiener, PageRank, pattern recognition, pre–internet, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Stallman, Robert Gordon, Rodney Brooks, Sand Hill Road, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, semantic web, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Singularitarianism, skunkworks, Skype, social software, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, strong AI, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, telepresence, telepresence robot, Tenerife airport disaster, The Coming Technological Singularity, the medium is the message, Thorstein Veblen, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Catalog, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, zero-sum game

Before, Bradski had been oblivious to the frustrations of other researchers, but now he noticed that engineers everywhere inside the company had similar frustrations. He joined an underground laboratory for the disaffected. Then, on a visit to Stanford, Thrun said, “Come out back to the parking lot.” Thrun showed Bradski Stanley, the secret project preparing to enter the second DARPA Grand Challenge. This was obviously the coolest thing around, and Bradski immediately fell in love with the idea. Back at Intel, he quickly pulled together a secret skunkworks group to help with the computer vision system for the car. He didn’t bother to ask permission. He hosted his design meetings during lunchtime and met with the Stanford team on Tuesdays. There were immediately two problems. After Intel promised that it would not involve itself directly in the DARPA Grand Challenge, the company started sponsoring Red Whittaker’s CMU team. Bradski’s boss started getting complaints that Bradski was distracting people from their assigned work.


pages: 486 words: 132,784

Inventors at Work: The Minds and Motivation Behind Modern Inventions by Brett Stern

Apple II, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, bioinformatics, Build a better mousetrap, business process, cloud computing, computer vision, cyber-physical system, distributed generation, game design, Grace Hopper, Richard Feynman, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Skype, smart transportation, speech recognition, statistical model, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, the market place, Yogi Berra

I think having the ability to go places like that is a valuable experience because it promotes sharing ideas and gives you additional sources of information and perspective about what people are doing and why they’re doing it and how they’re doing it. 1 Polymer: Composed of repeating structural linked units or chains typically connected by covalent chemical bonds each a relatively light and simple molecule. 2 Evoque Pre-Composite Polymer Technology improves the particle distribution and light-scattering efficiency of TiO2 while improving or maintaining hiding qualities. CHAPTER 7 Helen Greiner Roboticist CyPhy Works Helen Greiner , born in 1967, is CEO of CyPhy Works, Inc., a start-up company that acts as a “skunkworks” to design and deliver innovative robots. In 1990, she co-founded iRobot, which has become the global leader of mobile robots from the success of the Roomba vacuum cleaning robot, and the PackBot and SUGV military robots. Greiner served as the president of iRobot until 2004 and as chairman until October 2008. Specifically, she developed the strategy for and led iRobot’s entry into the military marketplace.


pages: 416 words: 129,308

The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone by Brian Merchant

Airbnb, animal electricity, Apple II, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, citizen journalism, Claude Shannon: information theory, computer vision, conceptual framework, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frank Gehry, global supply chain, Google Earth, Google Hangouts, Internet of things, Jacquard loom, John Gruber, John Markoff, Jony Ive, Lyft, M-Pesa, MITM: man-in-the-middle, more computing power than Apollo, Mother of all demos, natural language processing, new economy, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, offshore financial centre, oil shock, pattern recognition, peak oil, pirate software, profit motive, QWERTY keyboard, ride hailing / ride sharing, rolodex, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Skype, Snapchat, special economic zone, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Tim Cook: Apple, Turing test, uber lyft, Upton Sinclair, Vannevar Bush, zero day

It was “brutal, grueling work. I put people in hotel rooms because I didn’t want them driving home. People crashed at my house,” he says, but “it was exhilarating at the same time.” Steve Jobs had been blown away by the results. And soon, so was everyone else. The presentation at Top 100 was another smash success. The Bod of an iPod When Fadell heard that a phone project was taking shape, he grabbed his own skunkworks prototype design of the iPod phone before he headed into an executive meeting. “There was a meeting where they were talking about the formation of the phone project on the team,” Grignon says. “Tony had [it] in his back pocket, a team already working on the hardware and the schematics, all the design for it. And once they got the approval for it from Steve, Tony was like, ‘Oh, hold on, as a matter of fact’—whoo-chaa!


pages: 444 words: 127,259

Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber by Mike Isaac

"side hustle", activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, always be closing, Amazon Web Services, Andy Kessler, autonomous vehicles, Ayatollah Khomeini, barriers to entry, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Burning Man, call centre, Chris Urmson, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, citizen journalism, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, corporate governance, creative destruction, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, family office, gig economy, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, high net worth, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, Kickstarter, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, Menlo Park, Mitch Kapor, money market fund, moral hazard, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, new economy, off grid, peer-to-peer, pets.com, Richard Florida, ride hailing / ride sharing, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Snapchat, software as a service, software is eating the world, South China Sea, South of Market, San Francisco, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, the payments system, Tim Cook: Apple, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, ubercab, union organizing, upwardly mobile, Y Combinator

As they chatted about life, family, and the industry, Jobs stopped for a moment and reached into his pocket, pulling out something Doerr had never seen before. It was the first iPhone. “John, this thing nearly killed our company,” Jobs said to Doerr, who stared at the boxy, glass-faced device with wonder. Jobs never showed him new products ahead of time, but Doerr—as well as the rest of the technology world—had heard rumors of the iPhone’s development. Apple was said to have been working on it for years, a skunkworks project of the highest secrecy. Doerr stayed quiet, not wanting his friend to clam up and put the phone back in his pocket. “There’s so much new technology in it, fitting it all inside was a feat,” Jobs went on, beginning to walk again under the valley oak trees that lined the Palo Alto street. “Behind this LCD display we’ve fit a 412-megahertz processor, a bunch of radios and sensors and enough memory to hold all your songs.


pages: 475 words: 134,707

The Hype Machine: How Social Media Disrupts Our Elections, Our Economy, and Our Health--And How We Must Adapt by Sinan Aral

Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, augmented reality, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, computer vision, coronavirus, correlation does not imply causation, COVID-19, Covid-19, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, death of newspapers, disintermediation, Donald Trump, Drosophila, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, experimental subject, facts on the ground, Filter Bubble, global pandemic, hive mind, illegal immigration, income inequality, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, longitudinal study, low skilled workers, Lyft, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Metcalfe’s law, mobile money, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, multi-sided market, Nate Silver, natural language processing, Network effects, performance metric, phenotype, recommendation engine, Robert Bork, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Second Machine Age, sentiment analysis, shareholder value, skunkworks, Snapchat, social graph, social intelligence, social software, social web, statistical model, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Telecommunications Act of 1996, The Chicago School, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Tim Cook: Apple, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, WikiLeaks, Yogi Berra

It can already decode brain activity in real time and aims to allow users to “type” one hundred words per minute just by thinking, without ever touching a keyboard. A brain-computer interface could augment a host of media. For example, by detecting firing neurons in the brain using lasers, Facebook could understand the words we think before we say them. As Regina Dugan, head of Facebook’s brain-computer skunkworks, described it at F8, “It’s not about decoding random thoughts. We’re talking about decoding the words you’ve already decided to share by sending them to the speech center of your brain.” Well, that’s comforting. For a second there, I thought I should be worried. The brain wave detector could also enhance the augmented reality medium, creating a “brain mouse” allowing us to click on objects in an augmented reality environment just by thinking about them.


pages: 603 words: 141,814

Python for Unix and Linux System Administration by Noah Gift, Jeremy M. Jones

Amazon Web Services, bash_history, Bram Moolenaar, cloud computing, create, read, update, delete, database schema, Debian, distributed revision control, Firefox, Guido van Rossum, industrial robot, inventory management, job automation, Mark Shuttleworth, MVC pattern, skunkworks, web application

What you choose to name these types of packages is entirely up to you. Authenticating to a Password Protected Site There may be cases where you need to install an egg from a website that requires authentication before allowing you to pull down any files. In that case, you can use this syntax for a URL to specify a username and password: easy_install -f http://uid:passwd@example.com/packages You may have a secret skunkworks project you are developing at work that you don’t want your coworkers to find out about. (Isn’t everyone doing this?) One way to distribute your packages to coworkers “behind the scenes,” is to create a simple .htaccess file and then tell easy_install to do an authenticated update. Using Configuration Files easy_install has yet another trick for power users. You can specify default options using config files that are formatted using .ini syntax.


pages: 492 words: 153,565

Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World's First Digital Weapon by Kim Zetter

Ayatollah Khomeini, Brian Krebs, crowdsourcing, data acquisition, Doomsday Clock, drone strike, Edward Snowden, facts on the ground, Firefox, friendly fire, Google Earth, information retrieval, John Markoff, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, Loma Prieta earthquake, Maui Hawaii, MITM: man-in-the-middle, pre–internet, RAND corporation, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, smart grid, smart meter, South China Sea, Stuxnet, undersea cable, uranium enrichment, Vladimir Vetrov: Farewell Dossier, WikiLeaks, Y2K, zero day

Cryptographer Nate Lawson’s comments dripped with disdain when he wrote in a blog post that Stuxnet’s authors “should be embarrassed at their amateur approach to hiding the payload” and their use of outmoded methods that criminal hackers had long since surpassed. “I really hope it wasn’t written by the USA,” he wrote, “because I’d like to think our elite cyberweapon developers at least know what Bulgarian teenagers did back in the early 90s.”6 The mix of state-of-the-art tactics and Hacker 101 techniques made Stuxnet seem like a “Frankenstein patchwork” of wellworn methods, others said, rather than the radical skunkworks project of an elite intelligence agency.7 But O’Murchu had a different take on Stuxnet’s inconsistencies. He believed the attackers deliberately used weak encryption and a standard protocol to communicate with the servers because they wanted the data traveling between infected machines and the servers to resemble normal communication without attracting unusual attention. And since communication with the servers was minimal—the malware transmitted only limited information about each infected machine—the attackers didn’t need more advanced encryption to hide it.


pages: 590 words: 153,208

Wealth and Poverty: A New Edition for the Twenty-First Century by George Gilder

"Robert Solow", affirmative action, Albert Einstein, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, business cycle, capital controls, cleantech, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, deindustrialization, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, equal pay for equal work, floating exchange rates, full employment, George Gilder, Gunnar Myrdal, Home mortgage interest deduction, Howard Zinn, income inequality, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job-hopping, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, longitudinal study, margin call, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, medical malpractice, minimum wage unemployment, money market fund, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, non-fiction novel, North Sea oil, paradox of thrift, Paul Samuelson, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, post-industrial society, price stability, Ralph Nader, rent control, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, skunkworks, Steve Jobs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, upwardly mobile, urban renewal, volatility arbitrage, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, working poor, working-age population, yield curve, zero-sum game

It offers a vast Babel of business plans and projects presented by every form of fast-shuffling charlatan, stuttering genius, business school tyro, flimflam artist, sleek financier, babbling broker, mumbling non-entity, voluble flack, computer shark, shaggy boffin, statistical booster; every imaginable combination of managerial, marketing, engineering, and huckstering skills; all inscrutably mixed in a teeming marketplace of “investment opportunities”: over and under-the-counter shares, Denver “penny stocks,” Sub-Chapter-S corporations, limited partnerships, proprietorships, franchises, concessions, leveraged buyouts, leasebacks and carry-forwards, spreads and deals of every description. The investor must appraise a vast, traveling bazaar of new products, the overflow of a million garages and laboratories, hobby shops and machinery “skunkworks”; companies all on the edge of “new breakthroughs”; takeoff trajectories; unique product niches in the “fast-moving, high-tech semioptical bioconductor floppy tacos field”; firms offering fame and fortune and tax shelter; businesses providing low-cost fuel, high-margin fast food, automatic profits in mail-order marketing, forty-seven magazines the world needs now, the Photonic Chip!, the people’s airline, fourteen plausible cures for asthma, the perfect coffee cup, the new Elvis, all demanding huge infusions of instant capital, all continually bursting beyond the ken even of banks and experts, let alone government planners, regulators, and subsidizers, no matter if they bear such promising titles as Small Business Administration or National Enterprise Board.


The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America by Margaret O'Mara

"side hustle", A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, accounting loophole / creative accounting, affirmative action, Airbnb, AltaVista, Amazon Web Services, Apple II, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, autonomous vehicles, back-to-the-land, barriers to entry, Ben Horowitz, Berlin Wall, Bob Noyce, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, business climate, Byte Shop, California gold rush, carried interest, clean water, cleantech, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, commoditize, computer age, continuous integration, cuban missile crisis, Danny Hillis, DARPA: Urban Challenge, deindustrialization, different worldview, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Doomsday Clock, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, Edward Snowden, El Camino Real, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Frank Gehry, George Gilder, gig economy, Googley, Hacker Ethic, high net worth, Hush-A-Phone, immigration reform, income inequality, informal economy, information retrieval, invention of movable type, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Joan Didion, job automation, job-hopping, John Markoff, Julian Assange, Kitchen Debate, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, mass immigration, means of production, mega-rich, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, millennium bug, Mitch Kapor, Mother of all demos, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, mutually assured destruction, new economy, Norbert Wiener, old-boy network, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Paul Terrell, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, pets.com, pirate software, popular electronics, pre–internet, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, Richard Florida, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Snapchat, social graph, software is eating the world, speech recognition, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, supercomputer in your pocket, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, the market place, the new new thing, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, Thomas L Friedman, Tim Cook: Apple, transcontinental railway, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, Unsafe at Any Speed, upwardly mobile, Vannevar Bush, War on Poverty, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, Y Combinator, Y2K

The Mac took the sophistication of the Lisa and the Apple III and combined it with the Volkswagen-like utility of the Apple II. It boasted the user-friendliness of the Alto and its commercial offspring, the Xerox Star workstation, without the eye-popping price. Several PARC engineers had moved over to Apple to work on the Mac team, bringing their knowledge of the GUI that Xerox had created but failed to successfully commercialize.14 The Mac team had started as a tiny skunkworks project within the company and ultimately grew to a team of 100. Like most everyone else at Apple, nearly everyone was under thirty, and had put everything to one side to put in eighty-hour weeks on the project. But the sense of mission was strong. The people of Apple in those glorious early 1980s, already blessed by great stock-option fortune, believed they worked in a truly special place. “Apple is human-oriented,” said Jo Kellner, who staffed Apple’s on-site customer support center.


pages: 669 words: 210,153

Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Timothy Ferriss

Airbnb, Alexander Shulgin, artificial general intelligence, asset allocation, Atul Gawande, augmented reality, back-to-the-land, Ben Horowitz, Bernie Madoff, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, Black Swan, blue-collar work, Boris Johnson, Buckminster Fuller, business process, Cal Newport, call centre, Charles Lindbergh, Checklist Manifesto, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, Colonization of Mars, Columbine, commoditize, correlation does not imply causation, David Brooks, David Graeber, diversification, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, effective altruism, Elon Musk, fault tolerance, fear of failure, Firefox, follow your passion, future of work, Google X / Alphabet X, Howard Zinn, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Jeff Bezos, job satisfaction, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Lao Tzu, lateral thinking, life extension, lifelogging, Mahatma Gandhi, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Mason jar, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, MITM: man-in-the-middle, Nelson Mandela, Nicholas Carr, optical character recognition, PageRank, passive income, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Singer: altruism, Peter Thiel, phenotype, PIHKAL and TIHKAL, post scarcity, post-work, premature optimization, QWERTY keyboard, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, rent-seeking, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, selection bias, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Skype, Snapchat, social graph, software as a service, software is eating the world, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, superintelligent machines, Tesla Model S, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas L Friedman, Wall-E, Washington Consensus, Whole Earth Catalog, Y Combinator, zero-sum game

Exposure to things that capture your ‘shower time’ [those things you can’t stop thinking about in the shower]?” [Peter recommends environments like Singularity University.] TF: Still struggling with a sense of purpose or mission? Roughly half a dozen people in this book (e.g., Robert Rodriguez) have suggested the book Start with Why by Simon Sinek. The Benefits of Thinking 10x Versus 10% “I interviewed Astro Teller [for my book Bold]. Astro is the head of Google X (now called ‘X’), Google skunkworks. . . . He says, ‘When you go after a moonshot—something that’s 10 times bigger, not 10% bigger—a number of things happen. . . .’ “First of all, when you’re going 10% bigger, you’re competing against everybody. Everybody’s trying to go 10% bigger. When you’re trying to go 10 times bigger, you’re there by yourself. For me, [take asteroid mining as an example]. I don’t have a lot of asteroid mining competition out there, or prospecting.


pages: 746 words: 239,969

Green Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson

double helix, gravity well, means of production, oil shale / tar sands, phenotype, skunkworks, the scientific method

Jackie said, startled and annoyed. “Why?” “Because we’re having a revolution instead.” Part Ten Phase Change They were pelican surfing when apprentices jumping up and down on the beach alerted them that something was wrong. They flew back in to the beach and stuck their landings on the wet sand, and got the news. An hour later they were up to the airport, and soon after that taking off in a little Skunkworks space plane called the Gollum. They headed south, and when they reached 50,000 feet they were somewhere over Panama, and the pilot tilted it up and kicked in the rockets, and they were pressed back in their big g chairs for a few minutes. The three passengers were in cockpit seats behind the pilot and copilot, and out their windows they could see the exterior skin of the plane, which looked like pewter, begin to glow, and then quickly turn a vivid glowing yellow with a touch of bronze to it, brighter and brighter until it looked as if they were Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, sitting together in the fiery furnace and coming to no harm.When the skin lost some of its glow, and the pilot leveled them off, they were about eighty miles above the Earth, and looking down on the Amazon, and the beautiful spinal curve of the Andes.


pages: 778 words: 239,744

Gnomon by Nick Harkaway

Albert Einstein, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, Burning Man, choice architecture, clean water, cognitive dissonance, fault tolerance, fear of failure, gravity well, high net worth, impulse control, Isaac Newton, Khartoum Gordon, lifelogging, neurotypical, pattern recognition, place-making, post-industrial society, Potemkin village, Richard Feynman, Scramble for Africa, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, the market place, trade route, urban planning, urban sprawl

To this quandary a solution was inevitably created: a remote place was given over to healing and transcendence, and with equal inevitability that place became a scapegoat in its own right, so that to it were sent not only criminal minds but also anyone else who did not fit, who took actions which – while in no sense illegal or immoral – were too unsettling to contemplate, who pursued thoughts or philosophies considered dangerous by those who did not share them. And finally there went also the outcasts and the drifters, by dint of that strange human gravity which at certain times appoints one place the locus of all that is odd and ill-suited, and from a bubbling pool of psychological toxins periodically ejects genius. Thus it was not only a hospital for the violently insane, but also a skunkworks, a commune and a school of art. We called it the Last House. Until genius, strangeness, community and criminality combined in a remarkable gesture, and the whole place unified its many identities in an unprecedented melding, the assorted bad and good voluntarily surrendering the distinction between themselves to create a single mind of unheralded capacity in furtherance of a project so vast and arrogant that even persons whose physical shapes were spread across the empty night between stars, and whose perception encompassed atoms and aeons with equal facility, were beggared and appalled by its scope.