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Let’s connect at @SxSW. And talk hardware, robotics, drones, satellites, imaging, data…

I will be joining a whole bunch of Boston/MIT SxSW attendees today on an early morning JetBlue flight to Austin. I will be there from Friday through Tuesday.

I am looking forward to this year’s SxSW, especially because there is going to be a lot of focus on hardware, robotics, satellites, drones, artificial intelligence, data analytics etc…areas that I invest in and love to learn more about. Email me at bz@luxcapital.com, connect with me on twitter @bznotes, or on Linkedin to find time together.

On Saturday March 8th at 12:30pm, Dmitry Grishin (CEO of Mail.Ru and founder of first ever robotics focused investment fund, Grishin Robotics) and I will explore Consumer Robots on a SxSW featured session. Location is Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon H, 500 E 4th St. We will discuss what are modern consumer robots, why is there such an interest these days in such robots, what is coming down the pike in terms of innovation and commercialization, how are our lives affected by consumer robots without us even realizing very much, investment trends in hardware/robotics, issues in commercializing hardware, and innovation robotics across the globe.

On Sunday March 9th from 2-6pm I will be at StageTwo, an official SxSw event focused on attendees in the consumer electronics industry. The hardware tsunami is here and many people leading this revolution will be joining us. It will be all about hardware, devices, gadgets. I will join Robert Scoble, Brady Forrest, Scott Miller, Asad Iqbal, Ben Einstein and others in giving a short talk. I will speak on investing in hardware companies.

On Monday March 10th from 5-6pm at Sheraton Austin Creekside, 701 E 11th St, I am excited to listen to a great panel discussion on Drones: Policy, Privacy & Public Safety. Helen Greiner, founder and CEO of CyPhy Works (and former cofounder and President of iRobot) will be joining two leading thinkers in the field or robotics, artificial intelligence and public engagement, Noel Sharky and Robin Murphy to look at positive and negative impacts of drone technology on society.

Aside from the above, I also expect to be at various events/talks/panels/BBQs…just to hang out with friends, find new and interesting people to chat with, and to simply soak in the intelligence of people much smarter than me. I would be delighted to meet you there.

Internet of Things needs a new interface

Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications, industrial internet, quantified self, connected devices, so on and so forth…so many ways to describe a world where devices, sensors and actuators are all linked together, connected to each other in the cloud, and sharing information + commands across common communication protocols. Reduction in the cost of hardware development, simplification and development of advanced low power communication protocols, and immense advancement in our ability to acquire, store, manage, and process big data has resulted in amazing progress over the last few years in the internet of things.

We are quickly entering a world where we can imagine a vast number of devices around us to be internet connected, collecting data real-time from a plethora of sensors, storing, sharing and processing that data in the cloud, and sending messages back to actuators to affect change. This is not science fiction, or a controlled lab at Stanford or MIT – this is happening around us, in our homes and in our agriculture fields. Our cell phones can monitor our location, surroundings, sleep and our motion, not to mention data that can be mined from our usage of the cell phone itself. A significant number of us wear fitness bands and quantified-self watches. We now have cars, thermostats, weighing scales, lights, door locks, motion sensors, medicine pill boxes that all connect to the internet, and there are multitudes of sensors spread around in public spaces to monitor temperature, pressure, microweather, rain, smog, CO2, and eventually allergen concentrations in the air or our food etc. Does this mean have we are in the promised land already? Hardly. Read more

Twitter is eating the world.

This past week I noticed at least three times my wife asked me to look up something on Twitter as she tried to follow a developing story. This was surprising to me. She is not a big user of Twitter (or much of social media), and in the past she would have just googled the topic. Last night we laughed together while looking at photos from Sochi that a friend had posted on twitter, and this morning she asked me to mail her that tweet so she could email it to some of her friends. Twitter has invaded her world, and she seems to like it.

But she is not the only one. Twitter has invaded our lives, our TV screens, and even our printed pages. Twitter is eating the world. Maybe I live in a tech bubble but it has become an important part of my life. I follow news on it, communicate with friends and with friends-I-wish-I-had on it, and I share my real-time thinking on it to get feedback and to learn. My partners at Lux Capital are also on Twitter and we often engage in banter and sometimes thoughtful arguments. Yes I also use Facebook (and sheepishly, I also use Google+) but Twitter is increasingly becoming more important in my life over time. Maybe I am becoming too used to bite-sized information in real-time, maybe its format feeds my ADD, and maybe I am just a self-obsessed person looking for a soap-box to hawk myself on. Oh well… Read more

Women are discussing, debating…figuring out how to win.

This post is really just an observation…

I spend a lot of time in family and friend circles that are ethnically, culturally and nationality-wise quite diverse. A lot of my friends find themselves dealing with a complex set of priorities and cultural influences stemming from their roots in this new adopted country as well as those from the cultures they grew up in. And just like myself, several friends have married into other ethnicities/nationalities, and that only complicates things more. Discussions that involve ‘cultural values’ are never easy…but such discussions happen regularly, and in fact happen vigorously. In my opinion, immigrant communities sometimes tend to discuss and debate such issues even more bluntly and clearly.

Over the last few months I have noticed so many conversations come up about the role of women in our society: women in tech, women executives, the ‘lean-in’ book, tiger-moms, stay-at-home moms, and what it means & takes for women to gain equal rights and equal successes…these are no longer discussions whether women should work or not, but have graduated to more nuanced issues on how women can and should play an equal role in their families and society at large. Women are discussing how to win…how to win at work, at home, in their extended families, communities, and society at large. Women are comparing and contrasting Sarah Palins of the world with Hillary Clintons of the world…and the role that not only major executives like Indra Nooyi or Sheryl Sandberg play, but also the role of maybe not famous but immensely important to society engineers, doctors, artists, journalists and authors etc.

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Build something that is hard to build, but amazing and enthralling!

One of Lux Capital’s early stage portfolio companies was thinking of its products in the context of B2B or B2C applications/customers. That terminology felt a bit outdated, and while possibly helpful, just didn’t click with us. My partner Josh shared an alternative view which I have tried to illustrate in the image below. We advised our portfolio company to build something that was at once hard and also amazing/exciting/enthralling, regardless of the end customer and eventual killer use-case.

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