SVP Technology at Fiserv; large scale system architecture/infrastructure, tech geek, reading, learning, hiking, GeoCaching, ham radio, married, kids
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As millions pay for premium subscriptions to have a "clean" digital media experience, privacy and freedom from advertising are gradually becoming luxury goods (Kevin Roose/New York Times)

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Kevin Roose / New York Times:
As millions pay for premium subscriptions to have a “clean” digital media experience, privacy and freedom from advertising are gradually becoming luxury goods  —  Photo illustration by Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari  —  A decade ago, an internet video start …

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JayM
11 hours ago
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Atlanta, GA
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Self-Publishing Stats Rise

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Bowker has updated their self-publishing statistics with numbers from 2018 – the second year in a row with more than one million self-published books carrying ISBNs. Bowker counted 1.68 million ISBNs issued to self-published authors, a 40% increase over 2017. (Even that number is far lower than the actual number of self-published books, because many ebook authors don’t bother with ISBNs at all – Amazon, the major ebook retailer, doesn’t ...Read More

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JayM
16 hours ago
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Atlanta, GA
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Update: Fry’s Electronics says it’s not going out of business #makerbusiness @fryselectronics

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Adafruit 2019 2491-1

Fry’s Electronics says it’s not going out of business.

Fry’s Electronics stores look like they’re heading for liquidation, but the retailer, which operates eight stores in Texas, says its stores will be restocked.
“We are not liquidating, or planning to close any stores,” said Manuel Valerio, spokesman for San Jose, Calif.-based Fry’s.

There’s one exception — its Palo Alto store, which lost its lease, he said — but the other 34 stores in nine states will have product again “over the next several weeks.”

Fry’s, which has been in business since 1985, is in the process of converting most of its suppliers to a consignment model, which means Fry’s won’t own the merchandise.

Read more, and see previous post “Palo Alto Fry’s Electronics to close in January 2020.

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JayM
20 hours ago
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Ruh uh!
Atlanta, GA
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1 public comment
fxer
9 hours ago
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Consignment, like a 2nd hand furniture shop?
Bend, Oregon

More layoffs at pivoting London ed tech startup pi-top

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London ed tech startup pi-top has gone through another round of layoffs, TechCrunch has learned.

Pi-top confirmed that eight jobs have been cut in the London office, saying the job losses resulted from “restructuring our business to focus on the U.S. education market.”

In August we broke the news that the STEM hardware-focused company had cut 12 staff after losing out on a major contract; pi-top told us then that its headcount had been reduced from 72 to 60.

The latest cuts suggest the workforce has been reduced to around 50 — although we have also heard that company headcount is now considerably lower than that.

One source told us that 12 jobs have gone in the London office this week, as well as additional cuts in the China office, where the company’s hardware team is based — but pi-top denied there have been any changes to its China team.

Pi-top said in August that the layoffs were related to implementing a new strategy.

Commenting on the latest cuts, it told us: “We have made changes within the company that reflect our business focus on the U.S. education market and our increasingly important SaaS learning platform.”

“The core of our business remains unchanged and we are happy with progress and the fantastic feedback we have received on pitop 4 from our school partners,” pi-top added.

Additionally, we have heard that a further eight roles at the U.K. office have been informed to staff as at risk of redundancy. Affected jobs at risk include roles in product, marketing, creative services, customer support and finance.

We also understand that a number of employees have left the company of their own accord in recent months, following an earlier round of layoffs.

Pi-top did not provide comment on jobs at risk of redundancy, but told us that it has hired three new staff “to accelerate the SaaS side of our education offering and will be increasing our numbers in the U.S. to service our growth in the region.”

We understand that the latest round of cuts have been communicated to staff as a cost-reduction exercise and also linked to implementing a new strategy. Staff have also been told that the business focus has shifted to the U.S schools market.

As we reported earlier this year, pi-top appointed a new executive chairman of its board who has a strong U.S. focus: Stanley Buchesky served in the Trump administration as an interim CFO for the U.S. Department of Education under Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. He is also the founder of a U.S. ed tech seed fund.

Sources familiar with pi-top say the company is seeking to pivot away from making proprietary ed tech hardware to focus on a SaaS learning platform for teaching STEM, called pi-top Further.

At the start of this year it crowdfunded a fourth-gen STEM device, the pi-top 4, with an estimated shipping date of this month. The crowdfunder attracted 521 backers, pledging close to $200,000 to fund the project.

In the pi-top 4 Kickstarter pitch the device is slated as being supported by a software platform called Further — which is described as a “free social making platform” that “teaches you how to use all the pi-top components through completing challenges and contributing projects to the community,” as well as offering social sharing features.

The plan now is for pi-top to monetize that software platform by charging subscription fees for elements of the service — with the ultimate goal of SaaS revenues making up the bulk of its business as hardware sales are de-emphasized. (Hardware is hard; and pi-top’s current STEM learning flagship has faced some challenges with reliability, as we reported in August.)

We understand that the strategic change to Further — from free to a subscription service — was communicated to staff internally in September.

Asked about progress on the pi-top 4, the company told us the device began shipping to backers this week. 

“We are pleased to announce the release of pi-top 4 and pi-top Further, our new learning and robotics coding platform,” it said. “This new product suite provides educators the ability to teach coding, robotics and AI with step-by-step curriculum and an integrated coding window that powers the projects students build. With pi-top, teachers can effectively use Project Based Learning and students can learn by doing and apply what they learn to the real world.”

Last month pi-top announced it had taken in $4 million in additional investment to fund the planned pivot to SaaS — and “bridge towards profitability,” as it put it today.

“The changes you see are a fast growing start-up shifting from revenue focus to a right-sized profit generating company,” it also told us.

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JayM
1 day ago
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$300 for a $55 RPi4 4GB, and 10s of dollars of components and plastic... hmmm. Profit! If you can find buyers.
Atlanta, GA
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This is why hackathons are essentially useless

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TD Ameritrade’s CIO argues that for every successful “like”-button-type concept that’s developed from a hackathon, a lot of work is put into ideas that never make it past the day of the event.

One afternoon, as I was listening to an earnest presentation from a well-intentioned employee trying to solve one of our clients’ biggest pain points, I felt a familiar sinking feeling. This person has put a ton of work and heart into this, and as one of umpteen pitches today out of an internal hackathon, I knew it wasn’t going to go anywhere. Right then, I decided there must be a better way.

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JayM
1 day ago
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Atlanta, GA
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Apple is working on a mega-subscription services bundle for 2020

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The subscription services that could be bundled together include Apple News Plus, Apple TV Plus, and Apple Music.

2019 has been a year of change for Apple when it comes to the types of products it sells. It’s the year Apple embraced the subscription services model in an attempt to make up for lagging iPhone revenue. During the course of the year, Apple has launched three new subscription services: Apple News Plus, Apple Arcade, and Apple TV Plus. That’s in addition to its existing Apple Music and iCloud subscription services.

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JayM
1 day ago
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Match too?
Atlanta, GA
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