All posts filed under: All

Gert’s Digigram Newsletter of May 2023!

Happy May! Spring has sprung and the flowers in California are blooming – so much so, that you can even see them from space! As the spring semester is winding down and I will be back at UC Berkeley in just a few months for my class on Connected Life, I want to center this edition around all the ways that a connected life affects us daily, even in ways that we don’t always see. In this edition of Digigram: #1: Connected Life. Online. Everybody, everything, everywhere, all the time: Everybody and everything is now online all the time. This is how a majority of us live our lives today: Connected! This is enabled by technologies. Innovations that were once a pipedream of human ingenuity relegated to sci-fi novels and utopian thought exercises are now our daily reality. But in creating these solutions, questions, and considerations arise. Will these technologies really enhance everyday life for everybody? #2: A deeper look at the humanitarian impacts of a connected life: What is the role of entrepreneurs in creating …

State of the Metaverse… metawhat???

Remember when there was a lot of buzz about the metaverse? But ask a random person on the street today what it all means, and you’ll get dozens of different answers. There is definitely less buzz around the “metawhat???” Mark Zuckerberg promised us a network of virtual worlds that are interconnected and that would allow us to interact with each other and with digital objects in a seamless and immersive manner. This would leverage virtual reality, and augmented reality, and would revolutionize industries. Or would it? Companies like Meta (or the artist formerly known as Facebook) have seemingly gone all in on the metaverse, but it seems like their biggest use case thus far has been virtual reality conference rooms.  What happened to the promised revolution?Who asked for this? And how is the Metaverse coming along? So far, the payoff hasn’t been very solid. According to a recent report, most people don’t care about the metaverse – unless it’s in a gaming context. And some gaming applications are pretty cool, and are gaining popularity such …

Connected Life: Utilizing Next-Gen Technologies for Humanitarian Action

As we explore a connected life, our society is still trying to comprehend how digital technology plays a role in creating life-changing and life-saving solutions that would not have been possible even 5-10 years ago. What is the role of entrepreneurs in creating technology that can solve some of the hardest problems in the world, such as humanitarian law and policy, or environmental impact? With the incredible advances in connected technologies built on systems like the blockchain, digitalization has become a priority not only in the tech sector but also for organizations providing solutions for uses with extremely high stakes, such as humanitarian relief in conflict areas. A colleague of mine, Yannick Heiniger, is currently working as a Senior Technology Diplomacy and Cyber Advisor for the Swiss foreign ministry in San Francisco. Yes, Silicon Valley’s tech companies have become so important that countries send diplomats to the Bay Area. Denmark started the trend by appointing a “Tech Ambassador” and Switzerland’s consul general in San Francisco also has the rank of an ambassador. Why? Because in …

Connected Life. How everybody, everything being online everywhere, all the time is changing our lives.

By 2025, we will have over 27 billion IoT devices connected to the internet – that’s more than three devices for each person living on Earth. And two-thirds of these persons own a smartphone, which makes them also constantly connected to the internet. No doubt: Everybody and everything is now online all the time. This is how a majority of us live our lives today: Connected! And enabled by technologies.  Never before has the world, its infrastructure, and the people who live here been more connected, and personalization is helping to drive tailored experiences for people while connectivity technologies are helping companies create new products, deliver better services anywhere in the world and realize efficiency gains never thought possible on a massive global scale. These innovations that were once a pipedream of human ingenuity relegated to sci-fi novels and utopian thought exercises are now our daily reality. But in creating these solutions, questions, and considerations arise. Will these technologies really enhance everyday life, and for everybody? Is the rapid growth of e.g. mobile, AI, and …

Digigram Newsletter of March 2023!

Welcome back, and greetings from Switzerland! I am currently visiting family and meeting with some very exciting clients of USA Launching Pad. There are many exciting things on the horizon, so stay tuned for future issues of this newsletter to hear more. In this edition of Digigram: #1: The Empire Strikes Back: Google announced a ChatGPT competitor. ChatGPT is the hottest generative AI innovation, and with Microsoft integrating ChatGPT into its enterprise product suite, other companies have to follow suit with their own AI systems. Unsurprisingly, then, Google recently announced its own AI chatbot service, Google Bard. What WAS surprising is that Google is bringing back their “Covid-semi-retired” co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page from their islands to lead the charge! What is next for Google, how will the other tech giants leverage AI chatbots for their own missions, and who will end up on top? Some predictions. #2: Browser wars reloaded: The emergence of ARC – can the new browser company break into the market against Google’s Chrome or Apple’s Safari? I tried out the service …

Mr. Green Africa logo

What Does It Take to Create to a Circular Economy?

According to most recent estimations, over 300 million tons of petroleum-based plastics are produced annually. These plastics are used in a wide range of products, from packaging materials to electronics and vehicles. However, a significant amount of plastic waste ends up in landfills, where it can take centuries to break down, leading to pollution of the surrounding soil and waterways, as well as harm to wildlife that may ingest or become entangled in the plastic. A large amount of plastic waste also ends up in the ocean, where it harms marine life and disrupts ecosystems. It is estimated that by 2050, there could be more plastic in the ocean than fish by weight. Sure, efforts are being made to reduce plastic waste, such as recycling programs and the development of biodegradable plastics. However, these solutions are not perfect and face challenges including contamination and lack of infrastructure for collection and processing. For the curious, there are a couple of ways you can handle plastic from a biochemical standpoint: Traditional Method, which involves melting plastics and …

Digigram Newsletter of January 2023!

Welcome back to DIGIGRAM! Thanks to those who read our last issue and inquired about USA Launching Pad and the recent Connected Life class at UC Berkeley. Excited to share that the next USA Launching Pad starts in March, and Connected Life will make a comeback in the fall semester (it was voted the second-most popular startup class at UC Berkeley, woohoo!). 2023 is off to a stormy start – literally! San Francisco just recorded the wettest 22-day period since 1862. It was so wet that it saturated sand dunes, which gave way to drop a world-war II bunker onto the beach below. Looks like a scene from the “1941” movie! Luckily, the sun has finally returned to dry out a soaked California. Photo: “Relocated” bunker at Fort Funston (Source) In this edition of Digigram: #1: MIT & Climate Energy Prize – This long-running competition for student-led climate startups is solving some of the biggest issues facing our environment. Hear from this year’s organizing team about how promising young people from the world’s best universities fight climate change today. #2: …

2023 MIT Climate Energy Prize

I am thrilled to be working to bring the MIT Climate & Energy Prize competition to Europe this year as a part of my work as senior advisor to McKinsey. This is the largest and longest-running competition among university students to launch companies tackling climate change. Teams compete for $100,000+ in prize money and have access to mentoring and other resources. Founded in 2007, the MIT Climate & Energy Prize has received over 750 applications, offered world-class mentoring to over 260 teams, and granted more than $3.3M in non-dilutive cash prizes. Over 220 MIT Climate & Energy Prize companies have successfully launched and raised $1.7+ billion in follow-on funding. Over 100 startups, including two dozen from Europe’s best universities, applied for this year’s competition. The best climate startups from each continent will be chosen in Paris on March 9 and in Boston on March 16 to compete for the grand prize at MIT in Boston on April 13. If you’re interested in learning more about the competition, you can watch our recent webinar. We welcome volunteers to spend …

Streaming Replacing Cable

In the June 2021 DIGIGRAM, we made predictions for the consolidation of the entertainment industry in our article “Shapeshifting of Entertainment Ecosystems.” The trends we discussed have only continued as the three largest streaming companies, Netflix, Amazon, and Disney/Hulu, now control over 60% of viewers in the streaming market. Image: A new king of streaming emerged at the end of 2022: Prime Video by Amazon overtook Netflix. (Source) Now Roku, the company best known for making boxes to stream other companies’ content, just unveiled its own television offering at CES. They aren’t first-movers in this category, as Amazon introduced its own line of 4k TVs integrated with Alexa some years ago. However, Roku’s offering demonstrates the ongoing trend of switching from cable TV to streaming first.  In mid-2021, streaming accounted for only a fourth of America’s TV viewing time – most streaming was happening on laptops or phones. However, in July 2022, streaming services got more TV viewing time than cable networks for the first time. As cord-cutting continues, 87% of U.S. households had a subscription to a streaming service …

Hybrid Work and San Francisco Commercial Real Estate

The COVID-19 pandemic has completely shifted the state of work in the country. While many employers are demanding their employees return to the office, workers are seeking much more flexible arrangements. A survey from Gallup in June 2022 found that approximately 56% of full-time employees in the U.S., or more than 70 million workers, say their job can be done remotely. Of those surveyed, 50% were adapting to hybrid work schedules, 30% were exclusively working remotely, and only 20% were working entirely from their office. The same survey found that six out of 10 employees working exclusively remotely are “extremely likely to change companies” if not offered remote flexibility at work. In Silicon Valley, 2-3 days of remote working has emerged as the new normal, with Wednesdays and Thursdays as the days when most employees work at the office. With technology moving in the direction of catering to remote and hybrid employee needs, employees are moving out of more expensive cities in an effort to save money, cut back on commute time, and achieve better work/life balance. If you’ve …