Author Archives: Ken Yeung

About Ken Yeung

Editor-in-Chief of and an accomplished interactive producer in the San Francisco/Silicon Valley area interested in all things in tech and marketing. Whether its gadgets or startups or related issues, he's eager to learn about it. From attending local and national conferences to appearing at events, parties, and other meetups, Ken is interested in sharing what he sees. Oh, and he's an accomplished photographer too, having been commissioned by Mashable, TechCrunch, TechSet, SXSW, BlogWorld, and many more.

Google's Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Eric Schmidt in their driverless carNevada today approved a law making it the first state in the nation to establish legislation authorizing the use of autonomous, or driver-less, vehicles on its roadways. This is a win for Google since they’re one of the leaders in autonomous technology, perhaps well-known for their driver-less cars that have at least been touring the region. Most experts, according to MSNBC, believe that technology to have mass production of driver-less cars is still years away, but Nevada decided to sign legislation right away.

Spurred on by Google, according to MSNBC, Nevada was encouraged to act because the search engine giant wanted to make sure that the driver-less program it had going on wasn’t doing anything illegal or not adhering to regulations. It first started its research & development program two years ago and MSNBC reports that there hasn’t been a single collision recorded, although in doing a search on (where else?) Google, I discovered that, last year, an accident that resulted in a five-car crash was started by Google’s car, but they claim it was human error–a driver was behind the wheel, not artificial intelligence.

While legislation is now in place for driver-less vehicles, don’t expect the state to allow you to do whatever you want when you’re in the car, but not behind the wheel (or at least driving it). The Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles is saying that there’s no exemption for drinking and driving: “the bartender or bouncer won’t be able to toss you in the back seat, hit the Start button and send you speeding home,according to Nevada DMV Director Bruce Breslow. MSNBC also reports that all operators will be able to text and use a handheld cellphone, but will need special licenses in order to be the driver in a driver-less car–a black box, similar to what’s on airplanes, will be included in all vehicles (a smart move).

Google will have to move fast in this area. General Motors is catching up to the search engine giant quickly with several tests being done in Southern California, while other participants are Pittsburgh’s Carnegie-Mellon University and Chevrolet. BMW is also gearing up to be an active participant too.

Wonder why Nevada was the first one? Is it because there’s so much stretch of road out in the middle of nowhere that Google felt it was safer to test their vehicles out there without increased risk of traffic? It will be interesting to see how this progresses as this will definitely spur innovation of (hopefully) safer vehicles and other autonomous technology.

UberI’m totally digging what public transit-disruptor, Uber, is doing to transport people from place to place. They have put greater emphasis on customer service than any of the taxi cabs I’ve ever ridden or the other means of public transit. From opening doors for you to offering water and hilarious conversations, I can’t say enough good things about them. The one downside that I see sometimes is the high cost of riding in their vehicles around town, but I suppose that’s to prevent an over-saturation of their market and to offer them some sort of separation from the regular cab companies.

So it probably shouldn’t surprise me,  but I’m very chagrined by the level of customer service that Uber puts forth when it comes to special occasions. Just take a look at what they did for Valentine’s Day. Well today is President’s Day in the United States and once again, their outrageous customer service strikes again. At this point, it almost reminds me of the fun environment and customer service one usually receives while on a Southwest Airlines or Virgin America flight. A recent video of Uber DC’s response to the holiday has just hit the Internet…and it’s quite…presidential.

Today, Uber DC offered some lucky riders the chance to feel like they were being driven around town by the Secret Service. Just take a look at the video and check out how cool the experience was!

Larry PageWith the recent increase in companies appearing on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and NASDAQ, the economy has seen some success in coming back from the Great Recession. More and more startups and businesses are being started and some are doing quite well–so well, in fact, that they, along with their CEOs, have made a name for themselves in society and created a product that forever changed the way we live. This is definitely more apparent in the just-released list by Forbes magazine of 20 most powerful CEOs under 40 here in the United States. Technology surely has played a huge part in the way business has been done in the past year and if you look at the list, CEOs from some of the industry’s most well-known companies are at the top of the list.

Just how does one get to the top of Forbes’ list? Well Forbes will only consider you for the list if you’re at the helm of one of the 20 biggest publicly-traded companies, have to answer to shareholders, and carry all the responsibilities of running a business. Oh, and you have to be under the age of 40. Not surprisingly, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is not on the list this year because he fails one of the stated criteria. Nevertheless, the list is mighty impressive and gives praise to the technology industry.

At the top of the list is Google’s CEO Larry Page, 38, since he’s running the show at one of the world’s largest companies and who has definitely shaped the way Internet search is being done. Since starting their search engine development in 1996 to ultimately founding the company two years later, Mr. Page and his co-founder Sergey Brin, have amassed an enormous volume of information to share on their site. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that they also have a market cap of nearly $200 billion.

Number two on Forbes’ list is Groupon’s founder and CEO, Andrew Mason, 31. The guy who brought coupons back that spawned a litany of “clones” catering to different niches, took the company public just last fall and has a market cap of nearly $13 billion today. This, after he turned down a reported $6 billion dollar acquisition bid from Google two years ago. Not bad for a kid with a music degree from Northwestern and accidentally became a software developer.

While not working with a tech giant, but still using technology to disrupt an industry, Elon Musk, 40, rounds out the top five top CEOs. This hard-working entrepreneur is in charge of Tesla Motors, one of the most talked about automotive brands in the industry for its production of 100% electric cars. Taking on a disruptive role is nothing new for Mr. Musk since when he was in his mid-20s, he and his brother started Zip2, an online publishing software for new organizations. His biggest role was soon after when he co-founded and ran the monster of all online payment services, PayPal. Now, he’s moved through the ranks of Tesla Motors serving as the CEO and “product architect”. The company has run up a market cap of $3.28 billion.

When you view Forbes’ list of the top 20 most powerful CEOs under 40, it’s important to note that the top spots for CEOs were mostly from technology-related companies. I’m certain that in the next year, more companies from the tech industry will appear on here, including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. But it’s probably all going to depend on whether Forbes’ data from Capital IQ (a Standard & Poor business) justifies that claim.

To view Forbes’ complete list of the top 20 CEOs, please click here.

Photo Credit: Google CEO, Larry Page, via

Twitter advertisingGood news for those small businesses eager to try and find another way of being a part of the the social media collective. Last Friday, Twitter announced that they’re rolling out a new advertising solution that will help make it easier for businesses to set up an account on their own and amplify their messages on the social network. This is a great move that will benefit emerging and new businesses who often times get swamped out of the market by the bigger and more noticeable brands. To help promote this release, American Express was brought on board as a partner designed to give all of their Cardmembers and merchants in the United States early access to this new advertising platform. While it won’t launch until late March, the partnership with American Express is probably a good move, especially when trying to reach small businesses.

To encourage small businesses to participate, American Express is giving to the first 10,000 Cardmembers and merchants $100 worth of free advertising on Twitter and in March, the credit card giant will notify its customers how to begin. For many, it might seem like Twitter’s move to have a self-serve ad platform is something akin to Google AdSense or AdWords since the advertiser will be bidding on keywords. Right now, customers are able to place their bids on promoted tweets and promoted accounts — something meant to help cut through the noise and increase exposure for whatever the advertiser wants to tweet about. According to AdAge, Twitter had already begun rolling out the self-serve ad platform in mid-November with about 20 or less advertisers, but it has since expanded to about 100 advertisers. In addition to this expansion, advertisers will pay for the bids via electronic payment, not through invoicing by the sales team–an interesting decision that makes it akin to Googl AdWords since Google processes via electronic payment while Yahoo advertising used to do it through sales teams.

As AdAge points out:

As is the case for any of Twitter’s 3,000 advertisers, small businesses can set bids for promoted accounts on a cost-per-follower basis and for promoted tweets on a cost-per-engagement basis/ In the latter case they pay only when users actively engage with the tweet (by retweeting, for instance.) While national brands might be bidding on keywords or hashtags associated with major events like the Oscars, which makes bidding competitive and expensive, small businesses would be more likely to bid on highly specific terms and to localize their bids, according to Mr. Costolo. (Twitter currently allows for city-level targeting at its most specific.)

eMarketer: Twitter Ad Revenues to Grow 210% to $139.5 Million in 2011Could this move by Twitter be a boon not only to the small business but also to Twitter’s bottom line? We’ve all been wondering what the public monetization strategy will be for the company–sure, they have a deal with several companies to allow them access to the firehose and also has/had a deal with search engines like Google and/or Bing. Now, it just seems right to really take the advertising opportunities on the service out for a ride and see how it handles. But if recent studies are any indication, Twitter is set to make a hefty profit off of this endeavor–according to an eMarketer report, ad revenues are projected to grow 210% in 2011…and as you can see from the chart on the right, Twitter’s advertising worldwide is going to increase year after year all the way to nearly $400 million by 2013. There’s definitely a lot of demand for people to want to get their message across on the service. According to eMarketer’s principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson, “since their debut in April 2010, Twitter’s Promoted Products have proven successful in the US. Marketers have seen solid engagement rates with Twitter advertising—in some cases better than those on Facebook—despite Twitter’s relatively smaller audience.

American Express’ involvement in this promotion is definitely not a coincidence. For the past few years, if not longer, the credit card company has been a strong supporter of the small business community. They were the first ones to start the Small Business Saturday campaign during the Thanksgiving holiday and have recently launched a social media show that is designed to help small businesses “harness the power of social media”. They’ve even partnered with Foursquare by offering specials to specific check-ins–most likely small businesses. Recognized for being the credit card of choice by small businesses, it’s not a tremendous leap to believe that American Express would partner with Twitter on this initiative. Definitely a win for both parties.

It will be interesting to see how Twitter’s advertising platform will still play out. At this point, there’s not a lot of advertisers that are participating in this endeavor, but soon more advertisers will be on the service and how will that add to the noise that everyone already has? With increased growth and use, comes the question about scale. But I’m sure that there are contingency plans in place to ensure sanity for all.

Photo Credit: Moma Propaganda via Laughing Squid

Startup Bus

All aboard!

We’re inching closer to the 2012 edition of the South by Southwest Interactive conference and for a lot of us, it’ll be a journey of a lifetime. We already have our flight set-up, a place to stay, and our registration handled so we’re good, right? Well…if you want to make your trip down to Austin a bit more adventurous and productive, then you might want to scrap that flight plan and instead try your hand at applying for a spot on the StartupBus. This 72-hour adventure from all parts around North America and culminates at a amazing launch party in San Antonio at the Rackspace Hosting headquarters where the teams will be presenting their product.

The StartupBus concept originated from Australia and kicked off last year just in time for the SXSW 2010 conference. Participants boarded these high-tech greyhound buses from San Francisco en route to Austin, Texas where they helped answer the question “what could people produce under unique (and extreme) time and resource constraints?” This isn’t your normal hack-a-thon where people sit around and create something over the course of a weekend. No, this StartupBus is a moving vehicle traveling 60 miles per hour on its way to one of the biggest tech events of the year. In its inaugural trip, 25 people developed six functional prototype web services and demonstrated them in front of a panel of high-profile investors in Austin. The winning team wound up being funded to help turn their prototype into a genuine startup and form a community. Since that historic first trip, the StartupBus has grown–in the 2011 adventure, 156 so-called “buspreneurs” took on the challenge to SXSW and put together 38 products. For last year’s Le Web conference, StartupBus headed to Europe and took 20 buspreneurs on a trip through the country building five amazing products.

The adventure is only getting started. This year’s journey is heading back to SXSW but will have competing teams coming from several new locations, including Florida, Cincinnati, Louisiana, Mexico, Las Vegas, Washington, DC, and Boston. Traditional tech hubs like New York, Los Angeles, and Silicon Valley will also be represented. Buses will depart from their respective locations on March 6 on this three-day journey down towards Austin. Applications are now closed but those who did submit an application should be notified in the middle of February. Once on the bus, teams will pitch their ideas for a startup, create it, and then produce a prototype to share with investors and others at a party in San Antonio on Thursday, March 8 at the home of Rackspace hosting. This will all wrap up at the grand finale on March 11 at 3pm in the Startup Village at SXSW. But don’t be mistaken that once the bus pulls into the Austin Convention Center, the fun stops there. Oh no…it’s actually going to continue. According to the StartupBus, “upon landing in Austin, the StartupBus teams hit the ground running- launching and promoting their products, pitching to VCs, connecting with other Buspreneurs and of course, enjoying all the parties Austin has to offer.” So once you build your product, you better get out there and share it with the world–who knows…you might become the next big thing to launch at SXSW without even knowing it!

Here’s a great trailer video about StartupBus from what happened on their last voyage through Europe: