Posts Tagged Silicon Valley
Posted by Darshana V. Nadkarni, Ph.D. in Big Data -Cloud -IoT-Software -Mobile -Entrepreneurship, Musings on March 8, 2020
People often ask, how does promoting D&I within an organization help in exceeding revenue goals, expand market share, beat competition, and help gain happy customers? Some people may be surprised to hear that the business case for D&I not only exists but is now overwhelming. There is a growing body of research that shows that organizations that effectively weave in D&I into its strategy, policies and practice, tend to benefit in ways that go beyond the optics.
Let us just discuss two primary benefits today. A professional journey for an employee begins with getting hired. Research shows that leveraging D&I becomes a valuable asset in attracting the best talent and in retaining good talent. Companies that are diverse and value diversity, get an advantage of getting referrals from diverse sources.
Retention is a big challenge for many organizations, especially when unemployment rates are lower. Employee Benefit News (EBN) reports that the cost to an organization to hire a replacement and train and bring them up to speed, when an employee leaves, is about 33% of a worker’s annual salary. In dollar figures, for an employee earning a median salary of $100,000 a year, it is about $33,000. Hiring costs may be multiplied several fold for higher level employees, with unique skill sets. In organizations that value and leverage diversity, candidates feel more welcome and comfortable and are therefore less desirous of leaving. In addition to reduced costs, an organization that is competitive in its ability to retain talent also experiences reduced turnover hassle, reduced training time and therefore more productive time, increased overall productivity, better customer experience, knowledgeable company experts, and better morale.
As a Diversity and Inclusion trainer, I feel grateful that organizations are increasingly acknowledging this reality and make space for insightful conversations to take place on this issue. However, D&I training should never be about checking off the box and is also less effective when done in reaction to bad publicity or a law suit. D&I conversations are most impactful when engaged pro actively, and when diversity is leveraged as an asset rather than a liability to deal with. This year, the conference at @TiEsv @TiEcon #TiEcon2020 has a track dedicated to discussing diversity and inclusion in organizations. Registration is open at http://www.tie.org . Also here is a link http://bit.ly/38EWWAU to my diary and more of my thoughts on D&I and some advice to entrepreneurs.
As coronavirus is raging on, entrepreneurs and scientists are called upon to come up with innovative ways to deal with this deadly virus. For instance, after 11 Israelis were quarantined after disembarking from a cruise ship in Japan, Israel has become a “Living Lab” for technologies to treat the virus. Israel, which has a large digital health sector, put out calls to entrepreneurs for proposals for new solutions to contain and combat the disease. Meanwhile, China is also taking a lead in exploring how futuristic technologies powered by artificial intelligence can help identify coronavirus symptoms, find new treatments, and track the spread of the disease. Chinese scientists sequenced its genome and shared around the world within weeks.
Unlike MERS, but more like SARS, Coronavirus is very contagious and has a long incubation period when people feel fine as they unknowingly walk around, infecting others. After identifying infected people, it is challenging to care for them while trying to contain the disease. Some healthcare workers who cared for coronavirus patients have themselves died of infection. We also heard that even after learning of highly contagious and deadly CD-19 coronavirus, some healthcare workers from the USA were “improperly deployed” when sent to assist in bringing home the patients infected in China.
In caring for coronavirus patients, human touch needs to be avoided and assistance should be provided remotely. Robots and automated technologies are of great help here. Robots are being used to disinfect rooms, take laundry items, help check for symptoms and disease progression, deliver medications and communicate with family and healthcare providers. Robots help disinfect surfaces and help in killing viruses and bacteria by emitting ultraviolet light. Drones and self-driving vehicles can deliver medications and supplies, petrol public places, spray disinfectants and do general surveillance.
Silicon Valley’s largest entrepreneurship conference, TiEcon 2020 has a dedicated track on health technologies. Amidst growing fears of coronavirus becoming a pandemic, emerging technologies like drones, robots, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning Digital Health and TeleHealth are likely to be game changers. Investors and entrepreneurs alike are focusing on the space with great interest. There will likely be exciting conversations as entrepreneurs from several countries (depending on travel restrictions), converge at TiEcon 2020, at Santa Clara Convention Center in CA, on May 8 and 9. If interested, you can register for the conference at www.TiEcon.org
Posted by Darshana V. Nadkarni, Ph.D. in Hindi - Bollywood Movie Reviews-- Play Reviews-- NAATAK-- Poems-- Event Reports, Play Reviews on February 23, 2020
I was not expecting a great deal from NAATAK company’s most recent on stage production of Neil Simon’s “Rumors”. After all, farce is one of the most challenging genres to perform. A farce is a comedy in which everything is absolutely absurd and usually involves some kind of deception or miscommunication. People are not forgiving when it comes to laughter and lame comedy tragically falls short in generating laughs. Add to that the challenging part of translating humor into another language and culture. The play is in Hinglish with supertitles in clear English projected on top of the stage.
However, my worry was unfounded. This performance is by NAATAK and in every show NAATAK meets the challenge head-on and delivers the best. In Rumors, five couples invited to celebrate a sixth couple’s anniversary, find that the host has shot himself, hostess is missing, servants are nowhere to be seen and the dinner isn’t prepared. What ensues is a brilliantly interwoven performance of farcical missteps, outlandish lies, and dialogs so hilariously delivered that you will be in stitches, in no time.
First, there is an exceptional cast of actors with Kamala Subramananian, Chaitnya Godsay, Ekta Brahmkshatri, Ritwik Verma, Anjali Bhide, Natraj Kumar, Roshni Datta, Chanpreet Singh, Bruce Blau, and Deanna Shinsky. There are also ubiquitous Chakra and Meera, the host and the hostess who never quite make an appearance but drive the events from the shadows.
The title of this play (given by original playwright) is well suited for Naatak’s performance, adapted to Indian socialites. While on one hand, well meaning friends are driven to protect the scandal of the day (details of it are not yet fully known to them) and on the other hand, there is equally well intentioned and cultural proclivity to share about the scandal (to find and lend support), and to fill holes in the missing details.
The dialogs are nothing short of brilliant. Here’s how it goes between two people at the party,
“She has a thing you know”.
“What sort of a thing”?
“She is doing something with somebody, somewhere”.
There is also sarcasm in hinglish. Here’s one dialog.
“I am melting”.
“So are the planets. But that we can manage.
Aap ki mange
Environment ke aage.”
Kudos to Director and translator of the original script, Naatak’s marvelous, Harish Agastya. Everything comes together brilliantly in “Rumors”, with witty script in Hinglish, plethora of underhand comments, sarcasm, complex storyline, unbelievably nutty sequence of events, ridiculous cover-up and dynamic fabrications, events that unfold in slapstick manner, neurotic cast of characters who successfully deliver ingeniously funny moments, elegant costumes that indicate high socialite status of Silicon Valley’s Indian socialites and exceptional staging, sound and light. This is a not-to-miss play of this theater season for all theatergoers in Silicon Valley. Naatak has 5 more shows and is running till March 1, at the Cubberley Community Theater in Palo Alto. There are few tickets left for some shows. Tickets can be obtained at http://www.naatak.org .
Posted by Darshana V. Nadkarni, Ph.D. in Hindi - Bollywood Movie Reviews-- Play Reviews-- NAATAK-- Poems-- Event Reports, Play Reviews on April 23, 2018
“How can we make user experience like flushing a toilet”, rhetorically questions Silicon Valley startup CEO, Mike Jordan (Barnaby Falls), in Anush Moorthy’s play “Unicorns”, a satire on modern era startups. It’s a perfect script to be presented without the elaborate set, costumes, or lights, to a small, intimate gathering of Silicon Valley audience. The play was performed on second stage at Mountain View Center for Performing Arts, by NAATAK company which has won for three years in a row in 2015, 2016, and 2017, the San Jose Mercury News Reader’s Choice Award, for “Best Live Theatre in Silicon Valley”.
Unicorns traces an engineer’s journey as he joins Oberherr, a high valuation startup. Paranoid Silicon Valley culture has made it imperative for Oberherr, to be extremely secretive regarding their products and offerings. In the absence of talking about their products, in order to get noticed before the big launch and the IPO, the company banks on heavy use of buzzwords. Mike often says, “at Oberherr, we imaginate, innovate, ideate”. Dressed in the style made fashionable among high achievers by Apple’s former boss, Steve Jobs, in black turtleneck and blue jeans, Mike insists, their engineers “create things from nothingness”.
The company has eliminated desks to enable free flow of thinking and interaction and employees are forbidden to talk about the company, outside its premises. And then there is a palpable omnipresence of the board (Havish Ravipati) keeping a tight focus on the impending IPO. All this paranoia and cutthroat mentality has created interesting dynamics at Oberherr. While Radhika (Tannistha Mukherjee) is highly territorial and least helpful to newbies, her accomplishments go unnoticed in supposedly “egalitarian” workplace, dominated by men. Ramanathan (Natraj Kumar) has learned to get noticed by sucking up to Mike, and Robin (Rohit Mukherjee) stays out of trouble by staying focused on his laptop. Sahil (Varghese Muthalaly) is fabulous in his role as a new engineer joining Oberherr whose fortune rises and tumbles at the blink of an eye. Sahil shares a healthy camaraderie with a fellow software engineer, Joyce (Aparna Warrier) but couldn’t explain even to his wife Priya (Preeti Bhat) about company’s products.
As seen from a few recent debacles, (one of the prominent one being Theranos) there are interesting shortcomings in the hyped up Silicon Valley startup culture. The focus on speed and short term gains, at the expense of long term vision and value-add of its offerings is often proportionately correlated with diminishing concern for people, true teamwork and quality of life. People become pawns in a system when stretching the truth isn’t just overlooked but sometimes admired, in quest for world domination and mad rush to IPOs. Unicorns by NAATAK is a fantastic spoof on the Silicon Valley startup culture. This is a not-to-miss play of this theater season in the bay area. Tickets may be available at www.naatak.com .
Posted by Darshana V. Nadkarni, Ph.D. in Big Data -Cloud -IoT-Software -Mobile -Entrepreneurship, Biotech - Medical Device - Life Science - Healthcare on March 16, 2015
With Obamacare, the discussion about national health has moved to front and center stage. But what about the status of global health; what are the opportunities and challenges? Just about a decade ago, availability of resources was the biggest problem in the arena of global health. But with the rise in public and private giving, to a large part due to unprecedented giving by Warren Buffet and Bill and Melinda Gates, the challenge has now shifted to better coordination of resources for “equitable, inclusive & sustainable solutions”. According to Council on Foreign Affairs, “for the first time in history, the world is poised to spend enormous resources to conquer the diseases of the poor”.
Kim C. Bush, director of Life Sciences Partnerships at Gates Foundation, is leading the efforts to broaden and deepen the foundation’s engagement and partnership initiatives with various healthcare industry sectors. With an objective to address the critical global health challenges with speed and effectiveness, the foundation is bringing in the industry in this dialog, in a systemic manner. The goal of the Gates foundation is to match global health priorities with the industry capabilities.
Kim Bush will be giving a keynote address at 2015 EPPIC Annual Conference, on March 28th at Santa Clara Convention Center. Entrepreneurs in life science arena, committed to solving some of the major health challenges of our times, may get big insights into where the gaps and the glaring problems are, as well as where the resources are being channeled.
Lineup of speakers on all panels at EPPIcon 2015, is very exciting, with plenty of networking opportunities thrown in. Here is a link to the preview of one of the panels on Digital Health – http://bit.ly/1EQtd5y . No doubt, connected, digital health will also play a prime role in advancing global health. Come and participate in the dialog, network with like minded professionals in Silicon Valley, and hear from key opinion leaders, angel and VC investors and other industry leaders. Early bird registration will expire at midnight today, March, 16. Register today at www.eppicglobal.org .
Also a plug for http://www.healthtechnologyforum.com 2015 annual conference on May 27 and 28 in Burlingame, CA. Early bird pricing will be effective till March, 31. Panels include Innovations for the Underserved, Resilient Communities, Population Health Management, and the conference has a dedicated focus on making a positive difference and transforming health globally. Register soon for an opportunity to hear great speakers and network with professionals committed to making a difference.
Written by Michael Golamco, “Build” is CityLights’ Executive Artistic Director, Lisa Mallette’s yet another bold venture aimed to bring thematically relevant plays to the Silicon Valley audience. Set in the heart of Silicon Valley, in Palo Alto, CA, this is a story about — what else? A startup! And what could be more hot than a video gaming company?
I am going to skip a more typical review with detailed plot description, in favor of giving you a glimpse of the future envisioned in this production. To give a little background of the plot, Kip (George Psarras) and Will (Max Tachis) had earlier conceived a brilliant game that resulted in a grand success, leading to what appears to be a milestone based buyout deal. Unlike Will, dapper and immaculate, Kip, the creative genius, with disdain for money, and for following procedures, and grave dislike for documenting details to make hand off of work easier for others, has a harder time with monetary success, fast cars, suits and board and shareholder meetings. Kip spends his days cloistered in his home mourning the loss of his late wife, and has abandoned social life, in favor of staying indoors, in his cluttered apartment, working on his next big project; only this time to give it away via open source and cloud. And who else to keep him company but an “artificially intelligent” being, an AI robot, oddly resembling his late wife Allison (Morgan Voellger).
If you think that it might be too far fetched, think again. Sometime back, IBM’s AI computer, Watson made history when it appeared on Jeopardy, the popular game show beat most of the contestants http://bit.ly/JOZmwH . Watson is a computer system, capable of answering questions posed in natural language. This is no small feat. Human language is infinitely complex. That alone makes for a huge challenge in building an artificially intelligent, interactive being. Puns, idioms, and other contextual expressions, and even the tone of voice http://bit.ly/17FvMmW and a pause at a different place in a sentence, can completely alter the meaning. In medicine, AI computer like Watson is expected learn the nuances of the language to offer complex diagnosis, and even indicate the level of confidence it has in the diagnosis offered.
In “Build”, Kip’s AI being is keenly aware of her identity “16 terabytes of data”. But she is far superior than any ordinary machine and he has built it in human avatar. The robot takes on Allison’s personality, even the loneliness Allison experienced when she was married to Kip and Kip was occupied with his gaming venture. This AI machine made out of code is incredibly smart (beats Kip in the word game they play), is intuitive and curious, and even talks about her dreams. When Will discovers Kip’s secret AI being, he is both astounded and concerned that Kip will forever stay a prisoner of his home, as long as he has the companionship offered by the robot. Along with this ulterior motive, Will also has fond memories of Allison and is mesmerized by Allison-like-robot.
This is not stuff of idle imagination. Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates have all said that we should be concerned about the future of artificial intelligence. Louis Del Monte, an entrepreneur, has said that some day, machines could surpass humans and could become the most dominant species, and Hawking has said that machines could eventually “outsmart financial markets” and “out-invent human researchers”. Days may not be far when machines will fulfill the roles of companions and caregivers.
While it is challenging to imagine the future, this production is tackling the challenges of reproducing that “future” on stage. It takes the audience into the fascinating world of video gaming as Will and Kip work on deliverables, cleaning out bugs, and packet drops. Then with the help of high tech design and lighting, the audience is introduced to the AI robot. Video designer, Nick Kumamoto has worked wonders with some scattered computer screens and lighting. While AI robot appears caring and concerned, and seems to be a perfect companion, the story revolves around three human beings, one who has passed away, leaving behind memories, and two friends who struggle through their growth and transformation, to keep the ties that brought them together in the first place; gaming, innovation, and their urge to “build” something, in the heart of Silicon Valley. “Build” will be running at CityLights in San Jose, till February 22, 2015. For tickets, go to www.cltc.org
Posted by Darshana V. Nadkarni, Ph.D. in Big Data -Cloud -IoT-Software -Mobile -Entrepreneurship, Biotech - Medical Device - Life Science - Healthcare on November 20, 2014
Recently, Karl Handelsman, Founder, Codon Capital, talked about the Lean LaunchPad Entrepreneurship program, at www.bio2devicegroup.org event. Handelsman, with Allan May (Managing Director at Life Science Angels), are instructors in the Lean LaunchPad for Life Sciences program at UCSF and also will be teaching at NIH, in the future. Handelsman is the Therapeutics cohort and May is the Medical Device cohort.
It is a mistake to assume that pre-clinical programs are risky and they need to focus on easier low hanging fruit or they must take 10+ years and a billion dollars to create value, said Handelsman. We have a duty to search for the path to unlock the value of the idea as industrially relevant innovation, and there are examples of biotech startups reaching that point in 18-30 months, said Handelsman. Lean LaunchPad program teaches scientists and clinicians in startups to do a real world assessment of their idea or technology, before plunking down millions of dollars, in an idea. Entrepreneurs receive training in determining their product’s market viability, regulatory risk, potential clinical utility, and also likely financing vehicles before making big dollar investments in research, design, and manufacturing.
Entrepreneurs need good operational models that build a context of value creation, said Handelsman. Investors like value, not milestones. “Investors want to invest money and they want to hear a business case, and operational milestones don’t get you there”, stressed Handelsman.
Big things often have small beginnings and start with contributions from many small pockets. Sharing the case of a company that started with collaboration and became the behemoth, Genentech, Handelsman said, entrepreneurs need to start thinking about collaboration, not competition, and begin to look at models of collaboration that would create true value. After all, strategic alliances built the Silicon Valley and there are many diverse and creative ways of creating partnerships. Entrepreneurs need to talk with others and be really good listeners.
Successful entrepreneurs are not thoughtless risk takers, but approach problems in a disciplined way. Value creation for therapeutics begins with thoughtful consideration of who would benefit from solving a certain problem; patients, payers, insurances companies or any other entity? Once entrepreneurs can figure that out, they can go to a VC and explain the business case. Value creation, after all, is not what entrepreneurs think or believe, but an idea or concept that gets external validation from the customer. “Do not constantly worry about keeping the concept in the stealth mode, and talk to a lot of people”, advised Handelsman. VCs do not count, they are not potential customers. In the end, one could have a sexy product, but if it does not solve a pressing problem then it is not creating value. Real answers to key commercialization questions, in the case of therapeutics, lie outside the lab, and entrepreneurs need to actively engage and talk with customers, partners, regulators and so on to figure out the value of their product. Lean LaunchPad methodology therefore, helps to validate the product, before commercial strategy is considered, saving time, money, resources and in some cases, helping guide the change in the trajectory, for more meaningful outcome.
EPPIC organization was found in 1998, with a mission to promote networking, entrepreneurship, and mentoring for life science professionals. Each year, EPPIC Annual Conference provides a wonderful forum to realize this mission. EPPICon on March 29, 2014 was held at Westin, SF and began with opening remarks by Dr. Norman Winarksy, Vice President at SRI Ventures.
SRI or Stanford Research Institute was found in 1946 to help Stanford University professors make an impact in the world. It has a staff of 2500, of whom 1000 have advanced degrees and current revenue is in the range of $600M. Many revolutionary technologies like the mouse (invented by Doug Engelbart whom I had an opportunity to meet, before he passed away, when I took his picture inserted here with the first red mouse that investor Peter Gerber is holding), electronic banking, robotic surgery (which spun out as Intuitive Surgical), and SIRI to name a few, have come out of SRI. All SRI personnel are taught to identify the value proposition and work towards that goal, said Winarksy. SRI is a non-profit organization but gives 34% of royalty to the individual or the team that worked on the specific technology and that is how SRI competes with high salaries in Silicon Valley. SRI process always begins with identifying the market pain, ideally a larger market opportunity. Out of about 2000 opportunities identified, about 3-4 get funded and get about 10X return; many of the others become licensing deals and the rest die. Currently Tempo, a smart calendar is showing a lot of promise, said Winarsky. This was a great start to a day that proceeded with excellent panels, speed pitch sessions and SIG networking opportunities.
Next EPPIC event will be held on May 6 at 6pm at Cubberley Theater, 4000 Middlefield Rd, Palo Alto. Dr. Sarvajna Dwivedi, CSO at Pearl Therapeutics will talk about the entrepreneurship journey that took him and his co-founder to build from a tiny spin out, from Nektar Therapeutics, a world class multi-site organization. Pearl Therapeutics was bought by Astra Zeneca last year, for $1.15 B. To register for the event go to http://www.eppicglobal.org .