The New Economy: Technology Trends For 2018

Remember during the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s, when pundits liked to talk about the "new economy"? Riding the wave of excitement, the information technology sector grew to well over 30% of the S&P 500, from under 10% less than a decade earlier. The mania ended as companies like disappeared while others, such as Cisco and Yahoo!, experienced traumatic share-price declines. It may sound negative to rehash those times, but here's the thing: The experts weren't entirely wrong.While the mania of the late '90s got out of hand, the basic premise of the new economy has continued to play out. We are indeed transitioning from an industrial, manufacturing-based economy into one characterized more by services and information-based commerce. This evolution has opened new markets and new opportunities within industries that barely existed a few decades ago. Apple has grown into the largest company in the world by making the iPhone, Electronic Arts publishes video games that consume countless hours of leisure time, and Facebook gives you a way to connect with friends new and old. These businesses all grew to be the giants they are by creating new demand and making their industries larger.And it isn't just a service-based economy that makes this industry so successful. These companies are built on the foundation of an incredibly profitable business model. This point can be easy to forget when we're constantly hearing about start-up unicorns like Uber that hand out stock options like candy and seem unconcerned about ever earning a profit. But the more mature businesses have already figured it out. Facebook, for example, keeps an astonishing 40 cents of profit for every dollar of revenue it records. Granted, very few businesses will ever reach that Hall-of-Fame level of success, but investors should be happy settling for a nice collection of All-Stars.Image source: Getty Images.The secret behind the success of companies like Facebook, Microsoft, and Google parent Continue Reading

Chain’s new recipe: Technology, takeout

With free birthday breakfast meals and all-you-can-eat riblets, the IHOP and Applebee's restaurant chains became a traditional stop for millions of American families seeking a feast. But casual dining restaurants began to lose their appeal for millennial-generation foodies, and in 2016, Applebee's tried to update its image. The restaurant got rid of its signature riblets and other items and introduced more upscale options, including steak cooked on wood grills that were newly installed in restaurants. The move quickly backfired. In the first three months of 2017, Applebee's' same-store sales -- sales at restaurants open at least 18 months, a key measure of performance -- dropped 7.9 percent from a year earlier, said Stephen Anderson, a Maxim Group analyst who focuses on casual dining restaurants. IHOP saw a 2.1 percent decrease in same-store sales that quarter, which reflected the slump overall at fast-casual restaurants. And the numbers kept slipping. "We lost a little relevance with our customers," said Stephen Joyce, chief executive of DineEquity Inc., the Glendale company that owns IHOP and Applebee's. "We forgot what the customer expects from us and got a wake-up call." Joyce, who joined the company in September after a decade leading Choice Hotels, has a plan to turn the business around over five years. The company is adding technology to make ordering more convenient, Joyce said, and is paying more attention to "off-premise dining" -- that is, takeout orders, often handled by food-delivery services. DineEquity also wants to expand by acquiring other restaurants, particularly in the fast-casual segment. To reflect the effort, DineEquity Inc. changed its name last week to Dine Brands Global Inc. DineEquity and the rest of the casual-dining segment of the industry has had a difficult couple of years, partly because restaurant growth has exceeded population growth and demand for those types of restaurants, said Victor Fernandez, executive director of insights and Continue Reading

Qualcomm names new chief technology officer

Qualcomm said Wednesday that it has named James Thompson, head of the wireless chip maker’s semiconductor engineering operations, as chief technology officer. He replaces Matt Grob, who is staying with Qualcomm as executive vice president of technology. Grob will continue to report to Chief Executive Steve Mollenkopf. Thompson has overseen hardware and software engineering for Qualcomm’s chip design business since 2004. Prior to that, he led the company’s Globalstar satellite engineering team. He was also part of the group that developed the Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) 3G wireless standard – a key innovation of Qualcomm’s that brought the internet to mobile phones. In his role as executive vice president/chief technology officer, Thompson will lead global research and development for all wireless chipsets, as well as charting companywide product roadmaps across other businesses such as data center silicon and Internet of Things chips. He also will head corporate research and development and corporate engineering. Thompson received his undergraduate, master’s and doctorate degrees in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. "Jim is a seasoned veteran within the mobile industry and brings strong technology and product leadership to continue to drive the invention of technologies at speed and scale, and to continue Qualcomm's more than 30-year history of innovation," said Mollenkopf in a statement. Grob, who holds more than 70 patents, joined Qualcomm in 1991 as an engineer. He worked on several top technology projects over the years. In 2006, he was named head of corporate research and development – now called Qualcomm Research. He was appointed chief technology officer in 2011. As executive vice president of technology, Grob will focus on longer term, next-generation wireless and related, including contextual awareness, machine learning, computer vision and security. "For nearly Continue Reading

The New Global Media

The nineties have been a typical fin de siècle decade in at least one important respect: The realm of media is on the brink of a profound transformation. Whereas previously media systems were primarily national, in the past few years a global commercial-media market has emerged. “What you are seeing,” says Christopher Dixon, media analyst for the investment firm PaineWebber, “is the creation of a global oligopoly. It happened to the oil and automotive industries earlier this century; now it is happening to the entertainment industry.” Together, the deregulation of media ownership, the privatization of television in lucrative European and Asian markets, and new communications technologies have made it possible for media giants to establish powerful distribution and production networks within and among nations. In short order, the global media market has come to be dominated by the same eight transnational corporations, or TNCs, that rule US media: General Electric, AT&T/Liberty Media, Disney, Time Warner, Sony, News Corporation, Viacom and Seagram, plus Bertelsmann, the Germany-based conglomerate. At the same time, a number of new firms and different political and social factors enter the picture as one turns to the global system, and the struggle for domination continues among the nine giants and their closest competitors. But as in the United States, at a global level this is a highly concentrated industry; the largest media corporation in the world in terms of annual revenues, Time Warner (1998 revenues: $27 billion), is some fifty times larger in terms of annual sales than the world’s fiftieth-largest media firm. A few global corporations are horizontally integrated; that is, they control a significant slice of specific media sectors, like book publishing, which has undergone extensive consolidation in the late nineties. “We have never seen this kind of concentration before,” says an attorney who specializes Continue Reading

Honda prepares to launch new hybrid technology in hopes of boosting lagging sales

Plenty of people think Honda Motor Co is not the kind of daring, risk-taking company it once was. One of them is Takanobu Ito, who just happens to be the Japanese automaker's chief executive. His solution? A simple, gasoline-electric hybrid technology which he believes will set a new standard for fuel efficiency and recapture the success of the CVCC engine 40 years ago, which helped transform Honda from a small company into a global leader. Carmakers, battling to stand out in an industry hammered by over-capacity and weak demand, are looking for an optimum balance of gasoline and electricity to propel cars after Toyota Motor Corp's triumph with the Prius hybrid. Initially tentative in embracing the technology, Honda believes it has found the right formula with a revamped version of its "one motor" hybrid system. "We believe we have reached a point with hybrid technology ... where we can provide game-changing technology and products," Ito told Reuters on Wednesday. "We believe that rivals will definitely follow us." Honda's new hybrid system will power the next generation of its cars and could be introduced in the remodelled Fit subcompact car by late 2013 in Japan, according to people close to the company. Honda introduced its "one motor" hybrid system in 1999. It is currently used in models including the CR-Z compact sports car and the Fit subcompact, also known as the Jazz. RECAPTURING FORMER GLORIES Since becoming chief executive in 2009, the 59-year-old Ito has pushed Honda to come up with its own hybrid technology and repeat the successes of its hard-driving founder. Soichiro Honda championed advances such as fuel-efficient CVCC engines with cleaner tailpipe emissions in the 1970s, and saw them adopted by carmakers including Toyota, Ford and Chrysler. Honda needs that kind of a booster again. Hit in 2011 by a Japanese earthquake and tsunami and floods in Thailand that wrecked its production network, the company also suffered Continue Reading

Growing New York technology industry will be part of ‘Made in New York’ campaign

The Big Apple is hoping to give Silicon Valley a run for its money with the launch of a new “We Are Made in NY” campaign. Mayor Bloomberg’s initiative, unveiled Tuesday, is designed to nurture and develop the tech industry in the city by encouraging tech startups to locate here and to help them grow. “I think it’s fair to say there’s no place better than New York City to build a digital business,” Bloomberg said at the offices of on W. 21st St. A cornerstone of the campaign will expand the “Made in NY” logo, which was created for movies shot in the city, to tech firms that operate here. Companies with at least 75% of their production in the city will be able to display the “Made in NY” logo on their ads and websites. “The words ‘Made in New York’ clearly have global appeal,” city Media and Entertainment Commissioner Katherine Oliver said. “We’re so proud that we can extend the use of the mark now to the digital and tech sector.” The city also will showcase local tech firms in ads posted on buses and subway trains, and shown on monitors in taxis. “Our true hope is that perhaps a young child who's riding on the subway sees that image ... and says, ‘Maybe I'll consider taking an extra math course or an extra science course and entering that field,’” city Chief Digital Officer Rachel Haotcq said. And the city has launched a web site,, with information to help startup tech companies open in the city and to advertise jobs — there are now 3,000 openings — at the firms. Visitors at the new site can also find free Wi-Fi access, coding classes, and summer internship opportunities. The site will also help entrepreneurs find and apply for low-cost office space and employee training grants and navigate city Continue Reading

GoDaddy opens Global Technology Center in Tempe

Scottsdale-based GoDaddy, a web domain and technology provider, opened its Global Technology Center in Tempe today, replacing an existing facility in the area.The $27 million center opens with more than 1,100 employees, including engineers, developers, corporate staff and small business consultants, with plans to hire an additional 250 people. MORE: 3 cool perks for workers at GoDaddy's new Tempe officeGoDaddy, which serves more than 12 million customers all over the world, is hoping to expand its footprint globally and help small businesses grow with its web-hosting and software services. The company provides support in 42 markets, 44 currencies and 17 languages. That support will be managed from GoDaddy's new Tempe facility. GoDaddy also continues to maintain a separate headquarters in Scottsdale."Innovation and technology happens with what we built here," GoDaddy's chief executive Irving Blake said. "We are here to help our customers succeed and it all starts at our core, with our own employees. This environment is collaborative, fun, open and stimulating – exactly what fuels creativity for our customers, helps us attract top-tier talent and gives us a competitive advantage." RELATED: Danica Patrick's GoDaddy Chevrolet goes pink for cancer fundraiser RELATED: It's official: GoDaddy ads will remain less sexyAmenities at the Tempe center include a fitness area, yoga room, game center, indoor climbing wall, go kart track, outdoor basketball and volleyball courts and a soccer field. The company even has a street named after it called GoDaddy Way that leads to the site.Perhaps, the most fun and interesting feature is a giant slide from the second-floor office area that ends near the kitchen with on-site chefs. "GoDaddy's Global Technology Center is synergistic with ASU's focus on innovation, creativity and collaboration," said Sethuraman "Panch" Panchanathan, ASU Senior Vice President for Knowledge Enterprise Development. "ASU is excited to partner Continue Reading

How can NJ attract more women into technology?

LAKEWOOD – Faced with a shortage of workers with science and math skills, New Jersey should embrace policies that make it easier for women to thrive in the workplace, the leader of the state's technology trade group said Friday.At stake is the state's ability to reap the benefits of having one of the nation's most highly educated labor forces, said James Barrood, president and chief executive officer of the New Jersey Technology Council."No longer is it us competing against other states," Barrood said. "It's global. We are fighting for tech talent."Barrood spoke at Woodlake Country Club here to about 40 people at a luncheon hosted by the Monmouth-Ocean Development Council, an economic development group at the Shore.New Jersey historically has been a hub of innovation, but the state has stumbled finding its bearings since the Great Recession ended in 2009. Its giant corporations have consolidated. Its casinos have downsized. And the huge millennial generation is gravitating to cities, leaving the suburbs behind.While the nation has regained all of the nearly 9 million jobs that it lost during the recession, and then some, New Jersey is only about two-thirds of the way back.Whether there truly is a shortage of American workers with science, technology, engineering and math skills, or STEM for short, is fiercely debated. Some observers say employers haven't offered high enough wages and good enough benefits to attract them.But New Jersey's smaller technology companies – such as iCIMS in Matawan and Marathon Data Systems in Neptune – have openings. Other companies are sure to face disruption from the Internet and smartphones and will need workers with those skills to save them. And students with STEM education appear to be in heavy demand. Job lined upJess Kostiou, 21, is graduating from Monmouth University in West Long Branch next week with a degree in software engineering. She had a job lined up last August with Lockheed Martin in Moorestown, Continue Reading

Google going ‘green’ with new mirror technology, other technology efforts

Google Inc is disappointed with the lack of breakthrough investment ideas in the green technology sector but the company is working to develop its own new mirror technology that could reduce the cost of building solar thermal plants by a quarter or more. "We've been looking at very unusual materials for the mirrors both for the reflective surface as well as the substrate that the mirror is mounted on," the company's green energy czar Bill Weihl told Reuters Global Climate and Alternative Energy Summit in San Francisco on Wednesday. Google, known for its Internet search engine, in late 2007 said it would invest in companies and do research of its own to produce affordable renewable energy within a few years. The company's engineers have been focused on solar thermal technology, in which the sun's energy is used to heat up a substance that produces steam to turn a turbine. Mirrors focus the sun's rays on the heated substance. Weihl said Google is looking to cut the cost of making heliostats, the fields of mirrors that have to track the sun, by at least a factor of two, "ideally a factor of three or four." "Typically what we're seeing is $2.50 to $4 a watt (for) capital cost," Weihl said. "So a 250 megawatt installation would be $600 million to a $1 billion. It's a lot of money." That works out to 12 to 18 cents a kilowatt hour. Google hopes to have a viable technology to show internally in a couple of months, Weihl said. It will need to do accelerated testing to show the impact of decades of wear on the new mirrors in desert conditions. "We're not there yet," he said. "I'm very hopeful we will have mirrors that are cheaper than what companies in the space are using..." Another technology that Google is working on is gas turbines that would run on solar power rather than natural gas, an idea that has the potential of further cutting the cost of electricity, Weihl said. "In two to three years we could be demonstrating a significant scale pilot Continue Reading

Education Department gives $500k to three brand-new ’21st century’ schools, despite budget cuts

The Education Department quietly forked over $500,000 to three pet schools, even as most schools lost tens of thousands of dollars in budget cuts. The three brand-new "21st century" schools got the extra funds outside the normal budgeting process after private donations that the schools had been hoping for did not materialize, sources told the Daily News. The schools can use the extra cash to hire consultants, buy computer equipment, pay teachers to work more hours - anything that helps them "align" with the Education Department's "21st century vision." "Students at these schools are receiving an extraordinary level of individualized instruction through the use of technology," said agency spokeswoman Ann Forte. But the extra city funds are rubbing some critics the wrong way, since they increase the three schools' budgets between 12% and 31% - while most schools are cutting after-school programs and tutoring due to this year's 5% budget cuts. "Given the budget cuts every school has been asked to make, it makes no sense to single out a few for favors because the chancellor wants to make the school into some pet project," said Panel for Education Policy member Patrick Sullivan. The High School for Excellence and Innovation in Washington Heights received $300,000 for its 83 ninth-grade students, an extra $3,600 each. Two middle schools in upper Manhattan received $100,000 each. Global Technology Preparatory Middle School, which got more than $1,700 extra per student, opened this year as part of the agency's small schools initiative. The school boasts classrooms "equipped with computers and the latest software to ensure that our students are prepared for the future." Students can take any of five languages, including Mandarin Chinese. The Urban Assembly Institute for New Technologies got about $1,400 extra per student. The Education Department's 21st century initiative, which currently includes 10 schools, aims to "leverage state-of-the-art Continue Reading