Alphabet Becomes Third-Most Valuable Company On Planet Earth – Amazon Takes Second

Technology becomes more widespread as years pass by. It’s crazy to think that just 30 years ago, mobile phones weighed pounds and had to be lugged around in briefcases, people went to department stores for a bulk of their shopping, and were reliant on pay phones – unless you were considered rich.

Today, the largest companies in the world are those that operate through websites, mobile phones, and other technological formats. Apple is currently the most valuable company on planet Earth.

What comes after Apple?

As of today, March 20, 2018, Amazon overtook Alphabet – the parent company of Google – as the second-most valuable company across the globe. Alphabet is currently valued at roughly $762.7 billion, whereas Amazon is worth about 3.5 billion more, at $766.3 billion.

Amazon has comfortably ridden a dramatic increase in stock price in 2018, raising roughly 35 percent from January 1 to March 20, 2018. When year-on-year growth is considered, Amazon’s common stock share price has risen a solid 85 percent.

Microsoft sits behind all three of the aforementioned companies with a valuation of $717.1 billion. How paltry! Pathetic.

Amazon unarguably has a more attractive, popular cloud storage system that does Google. While Google Cloud isn’t inherently bad, or full of flaws, or overly expensive, Amazon’s cloud business is simply better than Google’s.

Google Cloud, the Cloud Platform, and the G Suite line of services are hoped by Alphabet to beat out Amazon’s digital service solutions, though it’s certainly not happening anytime soon.

Amazon has even made a recent push into physical stores. Despite the unmatched convenience and profitability of online retailing, Amazon has likely made a solid, low-risk decision in constructing unmanned Amazon Go stores around the nation. The first installment was crafted in Seattle, Washington, just longer than one month ago.

Arguably, Alphabet’s best chance at competing with Amazon to regain the title of second-most-valuable company in the world is to partner with Walmart, Target, and other stores to sell its Google Assistant – which it’s already done.

Best Campaign Tips From NGP Van: How to Save Time

Almost all American Democratic campaigns are powered by software from NGP Van. This includes the voter contract campaign for Obama. The fundraisers, organizers and strategies work in the advancement of important causes and inspire leaders including Senator Elizabeth Warren and Barack Obama. NGP Van encompasses issues including climate change, education, reproductive rights and equality in the provision of technology to bring goals to life. NGP Van has shared their best tips to reduce stress for campaigns at the end of the quarter.

NGP Van recommends keeping some ideas for the future instead of sending so many emails the ideas run out. They advise sharing the number of people including email subscribers, volunteers and social media that have joined the campaign. This adds momentum to the campaign and makes the people feel like an important part of the process. A thermometer can be used to show how close the EOQ goal and benchmark are becoming. If the average contribution is below $35 ask supporters to chip in for the average amount. Once a donation has been made encourage the donor to share their story regarding their reasons for making the donation. NGP Van recommends sharing the most impactful stories through email.

NGP Van believes in getting the content approved and written in advance. Writing is time consuming and good preparation eliminates a lot of the stress. Once this is accomplished all that remains is sending subject line tests, coding emails, choosing the winner and reporting back. An end of the quarter master calendar will keep track of emails sent and approved as well as which ones require a follow up. This is extremely helpful when multiple clients are being juggled and saves time. Every campaign deserves a celebration for doing a good job. A bonding activity such as a pizza party, potluck for lunch or laser tag works very well. Both the department and team have numerous options to celebrate their success. NGP Van understands everyone needs something to look forward to while working that final stretch. This is also a good time to discuss which tactics were effective and which ones were not.

NGP VAN is located in Washington DC and specializes in online voter and volunteer management, campaign analysis, and political fundraising.

Follow them on Twitter for more helpful tips in organizing and improving upcoming campaigns.

Harvard Snake Robots Are Winding Their Way Around Campus

The latest robot prototypes developed at Harvard University are crawling their way around the Ivy League campus using skins made of snake scales.

Ahmad Rafsanjani, the postdoctoral researcher investigating the use of snake mobility models to applications in robotics has produced some extremely impressive trials of these winding robots.

Describing his methods for creating the robotic snakes, Rafsanjani explains that starting with familiar silicon rubber tubes, he stretched a synthetic snake skin composed of thin plastic materials that had been etched with various symmetric patterns of polygonal shapes.

Air was pumped into the silicone tubes beginning a cycle of inflation, followed by a resulting deflation. As the materials inflate, the etchings on the tubes expand and begin to resemble the skins of snakes, propelling the snake robot tube forwards.

As the tube deflates, the skin etchings return to being flush against the plastic film, resulting in the rear portion of the snake tube pulling itself forwards to the snake’s new position.

By repeating this process, the snake begins to propel itself forwards in a manner similar to an inching caterpillar.

To optimize the snake’s movement Rafsjanin experimented with different polygon etchings. The best results in terms of most movement per inflation/deflation cycle resulted from a trapezoidal pattern.

Excited about the prospects of their experimental findings, the journal Science Robotics published the study describing applications for the snakes in on rough surfaces such as concrete and asphalt as well as crawling through the human vascular system to deliver medications.

The idea of snake robots has been around for some time. The U.S. Army research lab had performed experiments in 2010 to create snake robot networks that worked together to manipulate objects in a manner akin to the coordinated tentacles of an octopus.

Broad military applications of this type of robotic system include grasping systems that can perform tasks that require delicate gripping and hand movements including turning and opening doors with knobs, not an easy feat for today’s robots.

Intelligence Chiefs Warn Against Using Chinese Phones

On Tuesday at a U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, American intelligence chiefs said its citizens should not use phones manufactured by Huawei and ZTE.

The directors of the CIA, FBI, NSA, as well as the director of national intelligence appeared before the committee, and they all issued the same warning against the two Chinese tech giants.

Chris Wray, who is the director of the FBI, said during his testimony that he was worried about letting any company or organization have access to American telecommunication networks when such a company or organization was bound by a foreign power that does not share American values. He went on to say that, by allowing this to happen, it would give these foreign powers the ability to steal or modify proprietary information. It would also give them the ability to spy on the United States without detection.

U.S. intelligence agencies have been suspicious of Huawei for many years. The Chinese company was founded by an engineer who previously worked for the People’s Liberation Army in China, and many in the U.S. government think that the company is essentially an extension of the Chinese government. It was this that led the U.S. government to ban Huawei in 2014 from receiving government contracts.

Huawei began as a telecommunication company that manufactured various forms of infrastructure-related hardware. But it has since become a major worldwide producer of smartphones. Last fall it even surpassed Apple to become the second largest manufacturer of the devices in the world, trailing only Samsung.

However, Huawei has so far failed to have much success in America, mostly because of the actions of the U.S. government. In January, it was about to announce an agreement to sell its phones through AT&T, but the deal fell through at the last moment, reportedly because of government pressure.

U.S. legislators are currently considering a bill that would prevent government employees from using phones made by either Huawei or ZTE.

How to Decide on the Right Device

It is expected for everyone to have an online device or access to an online device. For people that are in the market for a new device such as a smartphone or a computer, there are a few factors to consider when looking for a product. In order to find the right product, it is important to examine one’s purpose. For instance, if one is going to live an active lifestyle, he might want a durable smartphone. A good camera could work wonders for this lifestyle in case one wants to record something from his daily activities to show on social media video sites.

When picking out a device, one of the most important things is the intended use. If someone is buying a computer to play video games on, he is going to want the most powerful computer he can find. The same can be said for people who are looking for computers to render art or edit videos as well as add some visual flair to the project. One of the brands that has a good track record is Dell. Of course people can also use products from Apple, they are said to be very powerful.

Even though the tablet has pretty much slowed down in production, there are still tons of tablets available in the form of 2 in 1 devices. This combines the touchscreen function of the tablet with the keyboard. In some cases, they are even called 2 in 1 laptops. Either way, they have the function of a tablet combined with the features of a laptop. One of the best things about computer technology is that there is a lot of diversity.

The Thriving Market Of Smartphones

If there is one thing that can be said for the smartphone market, it is that it is thriving. One thing that can be said is that almost everyone has a smartphone, and yet people are still buying it. One good way to profit and continue to profit in the market is to come up with something that is highly advanced and come up with ways to keep it updating. There are always updates being made to smartphones which will keep attracting customers. This is a bit like computer hardware and software. Given that the world is more or less computerized and online, people are going to be looking for the latest technology so that they can handle their entertainment as well as productivity.

People that are in the market for smartphones are probably looking for the best smartphones they can get their hands on. These smartphones will cost a lot so they may have to save money.

It is hard to think of a time before smartphones. People were still enjoying their flip phones. The idea of watching high definition video was not considered possible. Now, these phones have large enough screens to display video that is easy to see. Another thing is that the phones have a high resolution so that images are clear and sharp.

One of the best aspects of smartphones is how simple and accessible entertainment is. While in older days, people would have to put on a physical media device to watch something on T.V. the smartphone makes it possible to watch high quality programming on their small screen. This makes things better for people who are constantly on the move.

A Look at How People Use Facebook

There is a fascinating article on the TechCrunch website where the author, Josh Constine, looks at how people use Facebook. Essentially, the article examines whether Facebook is bringing people closer, isolating us or both. Facebook itself seems to recognize that many people overuse their product and are now offering an app that can block areas of the site for 30 days if the user feels they need a break. Additionally, it will be sponsoring a conference where academics and other experts look at the possible negative effects of social media on society.

The author notes that people tend to use Facebook too much when their wills are weak often late at night. This is certainly true for me, and it was interesting to learn that others have the same problem. The author compares overusing Facebook to eating too much fast food, and this is an excellent analogy. Also, he mentions that one of the biggest regret users have after abusing Facebook is the time they lost. In fact, studies show that Facebook users are on the site an average of an hour a day.

On the other hand, Facebook brings us closer by connecting us with long-ago classmates, distant family members, fellow obscure hobby enthusiasts and more. Basically, the author distinguishes between good and bad Facebook use, and the article isn’t simply a condemnation of the technology. After reading this article, I came to the conclusion that Facebook is like most technologies – it’s good or bad depending on how it’s used.

Mark Zuckerberg himself has said that it’s better when people actively use Facebook to connect with friends and family than passively consume items that are routed to them by the site algorithm. Also, many experts have talked about how people who use Facebook may come to see their lives and themselves as inadequate because they are constantly bombarded with images of success and glamour from those they follow.

France Bans Mobile Phones in School

If you look around at the people in your vicinity, you may notice an alarming trend. Almost everyone is on their phone. All across the globe, it seems that now more than ever, people just cannot put down their smartphones. It’s dangerous and it’s quickly becoming a public health crisis. That’s because a whole slew of dangerous things is happening due to our dependency on phones. People are driving and not paying attention because they’re texting. Teenagers are crossing the street, looking at their phone, and becoming victims of accidents. Furthermore, predators and other evil people lurk inside social media apps. There is a country that won’t take a stand for this advancement in technology.

According to Reddit, France is banning smartphones from all primary, junior, and middle schools. The Education Minister even went as far as to call center it a “public health crisis.” He’s not wrong. Teenagers are paying less attention in school because they care more about what others are doing on social media. Cell phones are also ruining face-to-face relationships. Teens would much rather chat with one another through the phone than make the effort to have a real conversation.

Perhaps one of the greatest reasons to ban cell phone use in school is the fact that it can cut down on bullying. So many young girls and boys are victims of cyberbullying. Smartphones give bullies a platform to voice their opinions which are often cruel. Jean-Michel Blanquer even said that children don’t play at break time anymore. It’s sad when children, even very young ones, would rather sit on a phone instead of interacting with their peers, run around, and have fun. This is very detrimental to their overall health because they’re not getting as much exercise as they should.

There have been previous studies done which show that banning smartphones is also great for student’s grades. These studies showed that test scores improved for 16-year-olds by %6.4. It’s easy to see why. When you take away a big distraction like a smartphone, you leave room for other activities like studying.

For more information, click here.

Target Adds a New Way to Give Gifts This Holiday Season

The holiday season is here and that means almost everyone is shopping. More than ever, there has been an increase in people shopping for gifts online. That’s because it’s essentially taking the easy way out. You don’t have to drive around from store to store, wait in line, and shift through racks and shelves to find what you need. Everything is available at the click of a button.

Just when you think you’ve seen it all when it comes to online shopping, there are new innovations this holiday season. No longer are there the same old options of giving a gift, money, or a gift card. According to TechCrunch, Target has added something new.

If you’re unsure if someone will like a gift, there’s a new option. You can email them the receipt for what they’re getting. The recipient then has the option to accept the gift, exchange it for something else, or exchange it for money. It’s great for when you’re buying for someone and you’re not %100 sure what they like. This is also great if you’re buying clothes for someone but aren’t quite sure of their size. Many wonder why not just send a gift card? Target views this as a more personal version of a gift card which makes sense. This shows that you at least tried to find something that they would like.

It’ll be interesting to see if this is the way of the future and if other stores will follow suit. It’s not a bad idea because everyone wins with a gift like that. There are still some people out there who are old fashioned and will say nothing beats unwrapping a personal or homemade gift. In today’s society, it’s harder than ever to shop for people. That’s because there’s millions of different gift options and even though you think you know someone, you can still have doubts. That’s why Target is doing this. They want to show that it’s not impossible to shop for the impossible person.

Why Interswitch has not Made Good its Promise to go Public

In 2016, speculations were rife that Interswitch, a payment processing firm based in Lagos, Nigeria, would be the first African tech firm to be listed both on the Lagos and London stock exchanges. The tech firm would be listed at a $1 billion valuation. All indicators were right, Interswitch had selected investment bankers, and Helios Investment Partner stood by the company as a primary backer.
Almost two years later, Interswitch has not gone public; neither has any other VC backed African tech firm. TechCrunch sought to establish why Interswitch has not made good its promise. However, it appeared as if Interswitch is unwilling to discuss the matter as the spokesperson for the tech firm reserved their comments regarding the pending IPO. Nevertheless, TechCrunch found out that Interswitch had partly addressed the matter in the last quarter of 2016. Through Akeem Lawal, Interswitch divisional officer, Interswitch had blamed “unfavorable equity markets,” while affirming it would go public before the end of 2019.
In pursuit of more information on Interswitch’s delay to go public, TechCrunch sought the opinions of some Nigerian tech insiders. Also, TechCrunch wanted to establish whether another company could be publicly listed before Interswitch.
Tayo Oviosu, the CEO of Paga—a Nigerian mobile money firm—suspects that Interswitch had not gone public owing to macroeconomic dynamics in Nigeria. He added that 2016 was unfavorable economically to launch an IPO. The weak Naira made it impossible to fetch a reasonable IPO valuation or opening share price. Consequently, Interswitch would have been valued lower than its actual market standing. Omobola Johnson, a senior partner at TLCom Capital, echoed Oviosu sentiments. Apparently, all analysts agree that 2016 was a bad year for a private company to go public. Johnson is also a former Minister of Communication Technology.
While Interswitch remains capable of going public anytime, Johnson named some companies which he believes might be listed soon. They include Andela and Flutterwave and Kenya’s Twiga Foods. Nigeria’s 2017 economic outlook is a marked improvement from 2016.