Amazon’s Smartphone To Feature Unique But Limited 3D Effects

TechCrunch has learned that Amazon’s upcoming flagship smartphone, running a forked version of Android, will have head-tracking capabilities offering up limited 3D effects. This key feature will be reserved to just a few built-in gestures, according to a source with first-hand experience of the company’s mobile ambitions.

Amazon has long been working on a pair of smartphones. TechCrunch learned last October that internally the venture is called “Project Smith”. “Duke” is the internal codename for the high-end device that features head tracking.

According to our source, the flagship device, Duke, is powered by a heavily modified version of Android. It’s FireOS with extreme 3D parallax effects, similar to those found on iOS but greatly exaggerated. The screen itself is not 3D, but rather simulates a 3D effect.

By way of four corner-mounted, front-facing cameras, a user can tilt the smartphone left or right to browse and access hidden side panels. We’re told that the 3D feature is very limited out of the box. At launch, there will be just a couple of added gestures built into the operating system that utilize this system.

Contrary to previous reports, this is done through head tracking alone and does not use eye tracking at all. Amazon never worked on eye tracking for its smartphones, TechCrunch learned.

The tracking technology itself is robust and developed by a team within Amazon — likely at Amazon’s Lab126 development skunkworks. Apparently, the OS simply does not leverage the head tracking in a meaningful way and reportedly does not lend to the device’s usability.

The timetable for this launch is unknown. Apparently Amazon hopes that it will spawn a new breed of games and applications. According to the WSJ, Amazon has already showed the device off to key developers in San Francisco and Seattle so it’s likely the device will launch with third party support.

The Wall Street Journal previously reported that Amazon plans on announcing the phone by June and shipping it by the end of September, a schedule confirmed by a TechCrunch source.

-Courtesy: Techcrunch

11 Lessons I Learned at Startups That Keep Me Up at Night

Being an entrepreneur is a frightening experience. You’re constantly faced with challenges that frequently put you on edge.

Over the past six years, I’ve been involved in three different startups. Each offered unforgettable experiences — most good, depending on your outlook. It certainly hasn’t been easy to co-found, lead or grow any of these businesses, and I’m lucky I’ve worked with excellent teams throughout my career. Though I haven’t yet seen it all, I’ve seen enough to realize the hard reality that is starting a business.

Here is a (relatively) short list of things that easily kept me up at night:

1. You’re replaceable. Your customers, strategic partners, suppliers and teammates will always appreciate your contributions, but there is always going to be someone that’s better, smarter and nicer than you are. You have no time to be complacent because the bar is set higher and higher each day for individuals in your field. Also, no one has the patience to deal with jerks. So stay hungry and never stop treating people well. Do these things and you’ll be irreplaceable.

2. Reputation matters. Don’t become the person everyone loves to hate. Instead, be the most outstanding person you can be. Do nothing that compromises your integrity. Stay honorable. People will like you more.

3. You’re responsible (even when it’s not your fault). It’s true what they say. There’s absolutely no “I” in team. If something breaks, it’s everyone’s job to fix it. It’s unproductive to point fingers and no one benefits from pettiness. Fix it, prevent the problem from recurring and move on.

4. Others depend on you. It’s a scary thought that you’re responsible to more people than just yourself. Your customers trust you to keep them happy, your team members turn to you for their livelihood and your investors expect return on investment. Your actions and decisions impact them, so remember to do what’s best for everyone — not just you.

5. You’ll eventually have to disappoint people. Some of your professional relationships will have to end. Some of your customers may not always get what they want. You can no longer grow if you’re carrying deadweight employees or fail to fire abusive customers, so trim the fat, but beware of leaving a bitter taste in their mouths or you’ll face the consequences.

6. Too much of a good thing is actually truly terrible. One day, you can be peddling your wares to local shop owners, a dozen at a time. The next day, all of the major news networks want to promote your product — for free. You gladly accept and receive more sales in 12 hours then you’ve received in the lifetime of your business. Hooray! But wait, this gift has turned into a curse. As a startup, you have to be prepared for the worst-case scenario.

7. You’re forgettable. Despite your accomplishments and the noteworthy mentions of you garnered in the press, within weeks, your business can feel like yesterday’s news. To be competitive and relevant, you must continue to innovate.

8. Building a business costs more than just money. There’s also a price you pay when you make a habit of pulling the graveyard shift evening after evening after evening. Your relationships suffer and your happiness may decline. It’s easy for your work to consume you — just know that you don’t have to let that happen.

9. Failure happens. It’s difficult to stomach, but failure is natural. What makes matters worse is that your family and friends watch your every move anxiously hoping you’ll succeed. You’re allowed to fail and should fold a campaign or project if it no longer makes sense to continue on. When you’re ready to start a new adventure, you’ll be more prepared than ever.

10. Equity is messy. Fortunately, I’ve worked with honest people who’ve sought to compensate me fairly. At the same time, I’ve witnessed many not-so-lucky startup folk get taken advantage of. Be sure to negotiate.

11. You’ll face rejection — a lot of it. Be prepared to hear 100 – perhaps 300 – “no’s” before you ever get a resounding “yes” from someone. You may think it’s a numbers game: the more people you ask, the closer you get to finding your first customer. The real secret isn’t trying to sell more people though. It’s selling your idea, product or service to the right people, improving your pitch, story and salesmanship each time.

I’m only six years and three startups into my career and I, most certainly, have many more lessons I need to learn. Ultimately, it’s these lessons that help you become a better entrepreneur.

What are some surprising things you’ve learned?

- Courtesy:

Do Good Students Make Bad Business Owners?

The idea that most business owners are dropouts might be an urban myth, but that doesn’t mean the habits of A students don’t generally stand in the way of successful entrepreneurship.

Ask the average Joe or Jane on the street to describe a typical entrepreneur and you’re pretty likely to hear something about a college dropout with a dorm room startup and a crazy dream. Business owners and studious academics aren’t exactly tightly linked in the popular imagination. But is it fair to take that association a step further? Are lifelong A students less likely to be successful founders?

First, a word of caution about the underlying assumptions of the discussion. Though the stereotypical entrepreneur may be a college dropout, the statistics tell a different story. Most business owners in the U.S. do, in fact, have college degrees (given our tech-saturated world, it’s probably no shock to you that many have advanced degrees in technical subjects), and plenty of high-profile folks in the world of entrepreneurship, from Google’s Eric Schmidt to VC Brad Feld, have argued that if you want to start a business, your best bet is to finish your degree.

Are M.B.A.’s the Problem?

So why does it make intuitive sense to many of us that being good at school makes it less likely that you’ll be good at entrepreneurship? Part of the blame may lie with one type of schooling in particular: M.B.A. programs, which have developed a reputation in some quarters for stamping out creativity among students.

Here, for instance, is organizational theorist Jim March summing up this view: “My experience with business school students is that those who possess an instinct for joy, passion, and beauty often learn to suppress their expression by virtue of a sense that such instincts are unwelcome both in business schools and in business, thereby making the sense self-confirming.” Even some business school professors themselves have publicly aired similar suspicions.

Or School in General?

It’s not just M.B.A. programs that many fear are hostile to the innovation, risk taking, and wild dreams that are at the heart of entrepreneurship. Plain old regular school is pretty bad at nurturing passion, according not only to many who experienced it in its less enlightened forms but also to education theorists like Sir Ken Robinson. His TED talk on how schools kill creativity is one of the most watched of all time. One gets the sense he may have struck a nerve.

But though it doesn’t seem outlandish that the regimented, highly structured world of standardized tests and eight periods a day might not be the ideal environment for nurturing imaginative, risk-tolerant, self-starting entrepreneurs, that still doesn’t get at the nitty-gritty of exactly how classroom learning might extinguish the entrepreneurial spark. Which is why a recent post on the bad habits of A students by Melissa Suzuno on AfterCollege is so fascinating. It lays out five ways good grades train you to be bad in business, arguing that learned behaviors such as expecting constant affirmation, always asking for permission, craving rules, and fearing failure are what erode students’ entrepreneurial abilities.


See which of Indonesia’s airlines are losing or winning at social media (INFOGRAPHIC)

Airlines need to be good at social media. If someone gets bad service from an airline, people are likely to mention it on social media; and if a flight is delayed, grounded fliers have a lot of spare time to gripe about it. So, how are Indonesia’s airlines handling this challenge?

A new infographic (below) looks at seven airlines operating in Indonesia to see which are flying high on social media – and to gauge which are the best at engaging with followers and responding to queries or complaints from their social channels. The seven airlines covered are Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air, Sriwijaya Air, AirAsia, Citilink Indonesia, Merpati, and TigerAir Mandala. The infographic maker, Brand24, then dissects how well these airlines are doing on seven social media sites: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google Plus, Instagram, and Pinterest. The data was analyzed from January 1 2013 to March 31 2014.

As a strong regional player, AirAsia tops five out of the seven social media platforms in Indonesia. Yet the national airline Garuda Indonesia has the greatest number of engaged fans in total.

This infographic is the continuation of last year’s airline infographic created by the same group of people: creative agency Joy Intermedia, social media monitoring startup Brand24, and So Trender. Compared to last year’s data, Garuda Indonesia is the biggest gainer, growing its Facebook fan-base by 700 percent while its Twitter followers increased three-fold. 


-Courtesy: Techinasia

See How One Organization Inspires the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs

The path to entrepreneurship can begin at any age, and The Community Inspiring Today’s Youth (CITY) is helping to pave the way for the next generation of business owners. With a common goal to champion the emerging faces of the small-business community, Entrepreneur supports the non-profit organization, which reaches out to underserved teens and young adults in Los Angeles through its 46-week micro-entrepreneurship program.

While enrolled, students work on developing their product or service under the leadership of an industry professional. Instead of teaching them to take the skills they acquire and enter the trade, or work for another company, the organization provides kids with the experience of starting their own small business. Currently, the program consists of highly motivated young adults from the ages of 14-22, some of which include youth offenders, re-entering incarcerated and on-probation youth.

Recently, The CITY received $70,000 from a fundraising event co-sponsored by Entrepreneur that was hosted by Fame and Philanthropy. The money will be used to help The CITY develop programming and curriculums, offer relevant business development courses, and provide quality after-school programming. The organization hopes to bring more than 50 students to complete the program annually. Participants receive a certificate and some may earn a start-up grant to continue their business endeavor.

Thanks to The CITY’s structured business development program and ongoing technical support, enthusiastic, young entrepreneurs are empowered with the confidence, know-how and necessary resources to potentially establish their own fully operational small business. As the organization’s reach and influence grows, it will continue to serve as a catalyst of business success and help shape a lifetime ahead of even more fruitful entrepreneurial endeavors for its participants.

To learn more about The CITY’s mission, contribute or get involved, visit


Fired Yahoo COO Henrique De Castro’s Severance Totaled $58M

Or, more precisely, $57.96 million. That includes cash, restricted stock units that vested over time, stock options linked to performance, and so-called Make-Whole RSUs. The total tally breaks down as follows:

Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 5.05.10 PM

While the cash portion of De Castro’s exit is minimal compared to the larger sum of his exit, Yahoo shareholders will pay for his departure all the same. The company created the chart above, adding that it illustrates the fact that his cost to remove was greatly impacted by its rising stock price. In short, Yahoo makes the point that the cost of this embarrassing episode would have been far less had the company not done so darn well in the public markets.

That’s an effective way to decrease dissent. 

Whatever the case, the episode is now behind the Internet firm, and will likely quickly be forgotten as anything more than a past, if expensive, mistake. In the wake of Yahoo’s positive most-recent quarterly results, I doubt there will be too much carping among the investing class.

-Courtesy: Techcrunch

The Big Problem With Small-Business Websites (Infographic)

Here are some of the most common ways in which small businesses’ websites are lacking.

Your customers today expect to be able to go online and easily find information about your company as well as ways that they interact with you. For many small businesses, however, this isn’t the case. The infographic below, created by Column Five Media for legal practice management software developer, MyCase, highlights some of small businesses’ most common (and fixable) website design mistakes.