Posts by This Writer

12 years 2 months ago

In June, we broke the news here that the XPrize Foundation would soon be announcing a new contest to encourage innovation in oil spill clean-up technology, an initiative spurred by the Gulf Coast oil spill. Last week, XPrize organizers officially kicked off the contest and offered new details.

Called the Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X Challenge, the $1 million prize contest is named for the wife of Google CEO Eric Schmidt. Wendy also is the chief of the Schmidt Family...

12 years 2 months ago

The Obama Administration's promise to launch innovation hubs to catalyze business innovation in economically hard-hit areas of the country has been cash-strapped and slow to materialize -- but don't count the program out just yet, says Marc Berejka, a former Microsoft lobbyist and now a top policy advisor in President Obama's U.S. Commerce Department. I caught up with Berejka at the Supernova 2010 conference Friday at The Wharton School in Philadelphia. What follows is an edited transcript of our conversation:

MS: You said during one of the Supernova panels today that President...

12 years 2 months ago

Worried that there might be too much information about you online? Microsoft researcher and social media expert danah boyd says it's better to worry that there may not be enough.

"The material that is being put up online is searchable by anyone, and it is being constantly accessed -- out of context and without any level of nuance," boyd told attendees of the Supernova conference on business innovation in Philadelphia on Friday. "That kind of spotlight on people can be deeply devastating, and a type of exposure that may not be beneficial...

12 years 2 months ago

Should we start putting venture capitalists on the endangered species list?  Judging by some of the talk on conference panels held this week at Stanford University and The Wharton School, one might be tempted to start counting.

Thanks to the rising power of the Web and social networks, the theory goes, traditional VCs are no longer the "must-have" middlemen they used to be for early-stage start-ups. Sure, they're still valued -- especially by established start-ups and social enterprises looking to scale. But is VC money needed as much now to launch a company, when the...

12 years 2 months ago

Start-up CEOs featured at this week's Stanford Summit in Silicon Valley say it's cheaper than ever to launch a social enterprise. Here are their Top 6 bits of advice for new entrepreneurs in today's fickle start-up climate:

1) Don't let the economy dictate when to start. "The best time to start a company is when you, as a person, feel you don't have a choice but to start a company," says Mike Lee, co-founder of Tapulous, a start-up that creates social apps for the iPhone. "It doesn't matter whether there's a recession happening or if zombies are attacking...

12 years 2 months ago

As the "do-good" conference season sputters and slows in the mid-summer heat, here are eight new social media tips and takeaways from the recent National Conference on Volunteering and Service in New York:

* Message shorter. There is one big "missing" in the use of social media, says Twitter co-founder and Chairman Jack Dorsey. Too many groups get their messaging wrong, he says. "You're more successful if you focus on simplifying your message," he told NCVS conferees. "Make sure the message is in as few words as possible."

* Get...

12 years 2 months ago

A survey of social entrepreneurs by Echoing Green, the New York-based social enterprise investment nonprofit, suggests that there are four emerging trends in the social enterprise field:

* Many social entrepreneurs want to tackle the world's most difficult problems early in their career. About 55 percent, or slightly more than half, of some 1,200 semifinalists for Echoing Green fellowships in social entrepreneurship since 2007 have identified themselves as being younger than 35.

* Social entrepreneurs are blurring the lines...

12 years 2 months ago

The national Social Innovation Fund announced its first list of grantmaking partners today, a group of 11 nonprofit organizations and social enterprises that will help distribute some $123 million in public and private dollars to catalyze social innovation.

Overseen by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the SIF and its choice of grantees clearly reflects a preference for experience over experimentation. The grantmakers chosen as recipients of the Fund's first outlay are predominantly those with extensive track records in moving the needle on social problems,...

12 years 2 months ago

New research  into what our Google queries and tweets say about us in cyberspace shows that we're a pretty divided lot online.

What's new, though, is that we can now tell, just from visualizing the knowledge we seek on Google and the hashtags we frequent on Twitter, what unites us -- and what it is about the echo-chambers of today's identity politics that keeps us all arguing so much to begin with. Skeptical? Let's have a look.

Near to your browser? Go to Google Suggest and click on "Web search." Type in the word, "why." Thanks to an "auto-suggest"...

12 years 2 months ago

Blanketing BART stations in San Francisco since mid-June are public service ads urging passers-by to use their cell phones to "drill the oil industry." Another Twitter campaign? Guess again. Think Foursquare, the new mobile social network which a number of nonprofits are using to drum up some money and a crowd of supporters -- online and off.

Earthjustice, a nonprofit public interest law firm in the Bay Area, is asking BART riders to "check in" with them on Foursquare. For every check-in, one of Earthustice's major donors is pledging $10 to help the nonprofit's attorneys fight...