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  1. Posted 5 hours ago by Sten Tamkivi Editor’s note: Sten Tamkivi has been a software entrepreneur for 16 years and spent the recent half of his career as an early executive at Skype in Tallinn, Estonia. Sten is now an Entrepreneur in Residence at Andreessen Horowitz. Follow him on his blog and on Twitter @seikatsu. Go to Europe these days – to Berlin, London, Helsinki – drop in on any of the regional tech confabs and you will quickly see that the European startup scene is in the most bustling, vibrant shape it’s ever been. The potential is everywhere, and the energy is undeniable. Then you return Stateside, in my case to Palo Alto, and Europe isn’t just irrelevant among the tech industry power-set. It has virtually ceased to exist. That is a mistake. Blame for the ruptured relationship lies on both sides of the Atlantic, but it is Europeans that have the power, and should have the motivation, to mend things. I’m proud to be Estonian and European, but recently realized that very soon I will have been living in California for 10 percent of my life. I had a front-row seat to the first Internet boom as an exchange student at the super-wired Monta Vista High School in Apple’s backyard. I returned to the U.S. with some frequency initially as an executive with Skype, and later to pursue a business degree at Stanford. My latest perch in Silicon Valley today is as an entrepreneur-in-residence with venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. Let me give you a small taste of the way Europe was woven into the discussion at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. Over the course of four quarters I heard one professor make one joke about short-term macroeconomic troubles in Greece. We also had a visit from a well-dressed and charming British banker in our private equity class. That’s it. No European startups, no cases of European success stories or failures. A joke and a banker. Important Places I’m not blaming Stanford. In talking to many people about my growing realization that the place of my birth simply didn’t matter to most people in the Valley, I began to understand that there is a mental hierarchy of “important places” for people building, investing in and studying tech companies in Silicon Valley. They exist in the following order: 1. Silicon Valley. Practically considered, the opportunity cost of venturing out of the bustling 30-mile radius of Sand Hill Road, whether you are an entrepreneur, investor or academic, is usually just too high. 2. The U.S. East Coast. Yes, stuff is happening in Boston and New York, but not so much that a once-a-month trip can’t cover most of it. 3. China. Massive tech companies do rise in China and go public in the United States, and Chinese investors have gobs of cash to invest in the Valley. There is a constant back and forth between both Pacific coasts. But it’s not just geography, and the historic manufacturing relationship that is stimulating this cozy dynamic. The Valley is looking more and more towards China for the next tech trends and expansion opportunities. 4. The rest of Asia. India’s diaspora links to the U.S. are strong. Southeast Asia’s growth is hard to miss, and there is interesting mobile stuff happening in Korea and Japan. 5. Latin America/South America. Markets in Mexico and Brazil are increasingly ripe for Silicon Valley tech, but the region is still a distant gleam for most companies. 6. Europe. Here is what I mostly hear about Europe: “I took my wife/husband to Paris last year for our anniversary, and we dropped by Rome. Great food, so much history, Europe is wonderful!” For vacation. Rather than relying solely on my anecdotal examples of “important places,” I turned to LinkedIn. Mapping my network through the lens of the topic at hand, I can confirm that, while Estonia, the Nordics and Europe in general comprise a tightly knit blue blob, and Skype in Estonia (orange) and internationally (green) is an organism in itself, the Silicon Valley venture capital and serial entrepreneurship circles float as a distant burgundy cloud. And the international graduate student and teacher body of Stanford is even further out on the right. Those familiar with Granovetter’s theory about the strength of weak ties should feel a wave of joy here. Sure, there are benefits of weak ties, but then again, there are virtues to tight-knit communities talking to each other frequently, sharing the successes and learning from each other’s mistakes. And that is exactly what is missing between the U.S. and Europe — a real bridge. So how do we build one, and what can both partners in constructing this connection hope to gain? Let’s start with Europe. Why the Hell Are You in Silicon Valley? And Don’t Say It’s the Money Raising money tends to be the No. 1 rationale from founders when asked why they’re in the Valley. It’s also the No. 1 mistake people make. You will be far more successful raising seed and early-stage VC financing close to home, on whichever side of the Atlantic it may be. Yes, the internationalization of the venture capital industry is well on its way, and one can draw quite pretty graphs of the increasing money flow across the globe. Bollocks. Here’s why you, European entrepreneur, aren’t going to get that money. Looking at closed early-stage deals listings in Pitchbook, it is very clear that U.S.-based VCs invest in U.S. companies, and European VCs invest in Europe. In my experience, this mindset applies to institutional investors in a clearly structured way, but is a notable behavior even for private angels in AngelList. Investors believe that there is much more that they bring to the table than just money – but that ineffable “value” is hard to bring across long distances and multiple time zones. No matter how much the video calling has improved, board seats, hiring networks, corporate development efforts and just quick (unscheduled!) calls work much better in proximity. Raise your money at home. Part of building a solid bridge with the U.S. is having a solid reason for being here, other than money. Selfies at Infinite Loop Drive and group pictures in front of Facebook and Google headquarters don’t count. One good reason for touching down at SFO might be that it’s because the companies that matter in your space – the ones you want to compete with, learn from, partner with or steal bored employees from – are in Silicon Valley. Ditto for customers. That said, you need to honestly evaluate decamping from Europe against your own personal strengths and networks. I am in the thick of things on Sand Hill Road. Yet that relative advantage doesn’t change the fact that I have been building software companies for 16 years in Estonia and worked mostly with teams around Scandinavia and in Prague or London. This is where the best engineers I know are. This is the core of my network. This is my actual unfair home-court advantage. If anything makes me stay Stateside, it must far outweigh the strongholds I’m leaving behind. That applies to every European (indeed everyone wherever they are from) pondering a move to Silicon Valley. Why Silicon Valley Should Love Europe Back So if exchanging money for equity isn’t the way to create tighter bonds between Europe and the Valley, the question becomes: how can we build more non-financial ties between our scenes? When building high-value ties in any network, the question should never be what you get, but rather what can you give to the other party? What can you help with? What can you teach? What can you spare? This tends to be true with your friends, your community, and your country – and how you ought to think about transatlantic relationships. If we Europeans can muster the confidence, and the U.S. can tone down its arrogance, Europe actually has a lot to give to Silicon Valley. Here are just a few examples. Talent. Silicon Valley’s weakest spot today is finding enough good engineers and designers. The European contribution here in the simplest case is talent. The next level of complexity, but more sustainable for both sides, are development outposts across the pond. This could also take the form of M&A targets that Europe could offer – something that Meg Whitman in her eBay CEO days used to call “off-balance-sheet R&D” when buying up another innovative marketplace team in the Netherlands or Sweden. What about making this a two-way street, and providing interesting-timed job adventures for early-career Valley experts? Why be the 3,481st guy in Facebook, when during a three-year stint in a cool European city you can be No.1 in the entire country in what you do? Yes, moving American hotshots to Europe can be a tough sell, but we did it successfully at Skype, and companies like Soundcloud are doing it again. Sharing new models. For any European who has spent an extended time here, Silicon Valley can often feel surprisingly backwards. When it comes to online and mobile applications truly embedded in how people go about their daily chores, how they sign and exchange legal documents, how they interact with the government, how they do their consumer banking, how they receive services from their doctors and so forth, many places in Europe are light years ahead of what is widely available in the U.S. We can share those ideas and expertise. 400 million customers. For most successful entrepreneurial ventures, there comes a day when growth needs to be found outside of the home market. And no matter how much the mobile handset makers talk about the next billion people coming online in Africa, and how lucrative the already-online billions of users in Asia are, the most common scenario for the Groupons and Airbnbs and Ubers of the foreseeable future is still to figure out their expansion strategy for the U.K., Germany and France. Europe is still the rational next market for most U.S. rocket ships who are looking to find customers with above-average incomes and access to credit cards who live on infrastructure you can deliver your products and services to. Who better to help U.S. entrepreneurs crack Europe than Europeans? Global skills. The value of understanding foreign markets does not stop with Europe, though. Far too much of U.S.-originated innovation is born in the form of English-language, iOS-only apps with hard-coded dollar signs. European entrepreneurs, especially those from the smallest countries, are much better trained at operating globally in multi-currency, multi-cultural markets. As a proof point, look at how the likes of Finnish Rovio (Angry Birds) and Supercell (Clash of Clans) or Skypers in London or Tallinn and Evernoters in Zürich or Moscow have conquered the astonishingly tough Chinese and Japanese markets. Security and privacy. In the post-Snowden days we’re living in, there is a new set of questions around the physical and legal location of users’ data and the regulations governing its privacy. Although the rules and behaviors driving this have been evolving in a U.S.-centric way thanks to U.S.-based Internet giants, if you look at where the users of the Internet live today, less than 10 percent of them are in the United States. And that share is declining. It is obvious that nations other than the U.S. will have an increasing say in the governance mechanisms and regulation of the system with Europe at the forefront. And this is not just a government thing. The European tech scene can help its U.S. peers figure things out as private entities first. If we Europeans can follow through with an approach of giving something unique and valuable, as opposed to just trying to get funding from the other side, I believe the European and Silicon Valley tech scenes have a shot at moving closer together. For U.S. players, this would presume paying a little bit more attention to the world outside. For Europeans, it’s mustering a bit more confidence in ourselves. I am sure more non-financial bridges can be built. And as it has been shown by some VC investment-related research: Cold hard cash will eventually follow the international corridors where smart people are already on the move. http://techcrunch.com/2014/01/18/why-silicon-valley-cant-find-europe
  2. While Netflix battles ISPs like Comcast over net neutrality, the European Parliament has just voted in favor of a new law that would prevent similar issues occurring in Europe. The legislation calls for all internet traffic to be treated equally, "without discrimination, restriction or interference, independent of the sender, receiver, type, content, device, service or application." That means, within the EU at least, ISPs will not be able to give preference to one service over another, theoretically ensuring that customers will receive the maximum speeds possible from all websites. Although in practice there are numerous factors that can slow down sites and services, the net neutrality law would stop an ISP from being one of those factors. The one exception to this rule is that ISPs can slow down traffic to ease congestion, but they must do so on a non-discriminatory basis, rather than by traffic shaping and slowing certain services. The bill has been the subject of intense negotiation, as lawmakers and industry representatives debated over the precise terms. Those fighting hardest for net neutrality were unhappy with amendments that came from an industry committee, saying that they left major loopholes in the legislation. The latest set of amendments would make it illegal for ISPs to suddenly decide that a website is a "specialized service." The importance of this amendment is huge: in the US, Netflix has agreed to pay Comcast a considerable amount of money for a "direct route" to customers that ensures a good level of service. Under the EU proposal, it would not be up to an ISP such as Comcast to decide that Netflix is somehow different to other websites. The new language used implies that a website like Netflix, which logistically acts much like any video streaming website, could not be defined as a specialized service just because it happens to be popular. The specialized services concession, instead, simply allows ISPs to setup or facilitate services that bypass certain infrastructures in order to provide a high quality of service. Ways this provision may be used are a little hazy, but examples provided include video conferencing services and medical uses. ISPs would be able to charge these services a premium in order to get a direct route, but that route cannot negatively impact the speed or quality of the internet in general. The law also clearly says that ISPs "shall not discriminate between functionally equivalent services and applications," meaning that, for example, Skype couldn't pay an ISP money to ensure it has more bandwidth available than Google Hangouts. Today's agreement is part of wider telecom reforms dubbed "Connected Continent," which will also put an end to roaming fees within the European Union by December 2015, essentially creating a "single telecoms market" for all EU nations. There are caveats to the end of roaming, namely a "reasonable use" provision. This is not intended to cap the amount of data or calls you make abroad, but would instead limit individuals from buying a phone contract in, for example, Lithuania, and using it exclusively in the UK in order to benefit from the country's lower contract pricing. Now that the language of the net neutrality law and the end of roaming have been agreed upon, the legislation will go through a somewhat lengthy review process. It's expected that a final agreement will be reached by the end of 2014. Source
  3. The PlayStation Vita TV has been on sale in Japan and Asia since last year, but Sony will be bringing it to North America and Europe under the name PlayStation TV. The gadget has the PS Vita hardware inside and can play Vita, PlayStation Portable and PS One games using the bundled DualShock 3 controller. It can also stream a game running on a PlayStation 4 in a different room thanks to its Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity. The PlayStation TV will also support PlayStation Now as soon as the service is available in Europe. Now is a streaming service that lets you play PlayStation 3 games by streaming them from Sony services. The mini console will cost $99 in the US and Canada and €99 in Europe. It comes with one DualShock 3 controller (but supports DS4 if you have them too), 8GB a memory card and an HDMI cable. Source
  4. As part of an agreement between Google, the European Commission and its Member States, Google is no longer labeling an app as being free if it contains an in-app purchase. The tech titan is also changing its default setting to make sure that payments are authorized before each in-app purchase is made, unless there is a change made by the phone's user to the default setting. EU Vice President Neelie Kroes, who is charge of the Union's Digital Agenda, said, "The Commission is very supportive of innovation in the app sector. In-app purchases are a legitimate business model, but it's essential for app-makers to understand and respect EU law while they develop these new business models." Besides not calling games "free" when they contain in-app purchases, Google will author guidelines aimed at its developers, telling them not to promote apps and in-app purchases directly to children. Changes are expected to be made before the end of September. It is not clear whether Google plans on making these changes to its Google Play Store sites outside of the EU. "This is the very first enforcement action of its kind in which the European Commission and national authorities joined forces. I am happy to see that it is delivering tangible results. This is significant for consumers. In particular, children must be better protected when playing online. The action also provides invaluable experience for the ongoing reflection on how to most effectively organise the enforcement of consumer rights in the Union. It has demonstrated that cooperation pays off and helps to improve the protection of consumers in all Member States." - Neven Mimica, EU Commissioner for Consumer Policy Apple also is expected to agree to similar changes for the App Store. Unlike Google though, Apple has yet to commit to making changes, although it has said that it will address the EU's concerns. Obviously then, there is no time frame for when we might see action from Cupertino. The EU and its Member States have also invited game developers to join in the conversation. Source
  5. Cybercriminals always look for the weakest link they can leverage to make as many victims as possible, and it looks like web browsers with out-of-date plugins are the norm in Europe. Browser plugin update situation in Europe According to the latest statistics from the Germany-based Cyscon GmbH, a company specializing in detecting an mitigating cyber threats, the users of most countries in Europe rely on poorly updated web browsers to explore the online world, which translates into plenty of possible victims for the crooks. The company makes available an interactive map that shows, in percentage, the proportion of a country’s users that do not rely on a browser that integrate plugin components updated with the latest patches available. According to Cyscon’s statistics at the time of the writing, the European country whose users are more aware of the security risks posed by out of date web browsing software, is Netherlands, where 51% of the computer users have at least one plugin component in the browser that needs to be updated. Although this is an alarming value, the country whose users would be more prone to falling victim to a cybercriminal, is Croatia, where it appears that 97% of the users contributing to Cyscon’s statistics do not have installed all the updates for said components. It is followed by Republic of Moldova, with 94%, Serbia with 86% and Germany with 80%. As shown by these statistics, there is no country with users sufficiently aware of risk posed by an old component with security glitches, to report outdate information lower than 50%. Source
  6. The Nokia Lumia 1320, which had a code name of Batman according to reliable source @evleaks, is now available to be pre-ordered in Germany. The phablet is priced at 399 EUR ($550 USD) online by retailer notebooksbilliger.de. The 6 inch screen belies the fact that the rest of the phone's specs are nothing to write home about, and this is certainly not the Nokia Lumia 1520 which is superior to it in every way. Besides the 6 inch 720 x 1280 resolution LCD screen (which offers a middling 245ppi pixel density), the Nokia Lumia 1320 is powered by a dual-core 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor with the Adreno 305 crunching the graphics. 1GB of RAM is inside along with 8GB of native storage. The latter can be expanded with the use of the 64GB capacity microSD slot. Nokia includes a surprisingly powerful 3400mAh cell to provide the juice to run the 6 inch glass. On back is a 5MP snapper with an f/2.4 aperture. That might be enough to capture some decent pictures in low-light. Video is captured in 1080 x 1920 at 30fps. There is a VGA front-facing camera. The Nokia Lumia 1320 offers fast LTE and HSPA+ connectivity and is being offered in black, white, yellow and orange. source: phonearena
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