Silicon Valley Blues

Silicon Valley Blues: This should be the best of times in Silicon Valley. There’s a gusher of venture capital, IPOs are back again, Facebook versus Google versus Apple makes for great competition, and valuations are sky high. And yet there is unrest because some fear that, for all these achievements, Silicon Valley has become a hollow place. The problem, I think, is money. There’s so much of it right now that Silicon Valley has inevitably attracted a fair amount of grifters, recent business school grads looking to flip a lame startup, too many people starting companies that aren’t really companies, too many business model ripoffs, and too many overfunded and overhyped efforts like Color. The debates over The Bubble are more debates over the state of Silicon Valley, the world’s innovation hub. While Google and Facebook vie to be the place where people waste more time, world economies continue to shrink, the environment continues to worsen, etc. There is a valid question whether Silicon Valley has its priorities straight with its Groupon clones, social media dashboards and the like, as noted well by Hermione Way.

Google’s Design Ethos: Even when everyone was celebrating Google as an unstoppable juggernaut and innovator par excellence, there was a group of dissenters. Designers weren’t crazy about how the company went about things. One designer famously quit two years ago and laid into the search giant for its metrics-uber-alles approach that relegated sophisticated design to the sidelines. Maybe things have changed. Khoi Vinh, former lead designer at NYTimes.com, weighs in that Google+ is thoughtfully designed, displaying an appreciation for tyography, spacing and other small details that make designers happy. Vinh hints this might be the handiwork of Larry Page’s rise to CEO. Of course, Google is a big company with lots of factions. Paul Adams, a designer, recently posted that he left Google for Facebook in part because designers don’t have a strategic say at an engineer-driven company like Google. There’s no doubt that Google still has a ways to go before it makes the kind of iconic design impact on par with a company like Apple.

Stat of the Day: New York Times content is tweeted or shared every four seconds of the day.

Google+ Publishing Platform: It often seems like 80 percent of the posts on Google+ are about Google+. But there’s clearly a ton of interest in what the social platform becomes. Some have gone so far as to close up shop on Facebook or their blogs and double down on Google+, where conversation is easier. That’s seems more than a bit extreme. It’s reminiscent of when Silicon Valley cheerleader Robert Scoble declared Friendfeed the future. That didn’t work out so hot. But Google+ is attractive for its easy integration with other Google content publishing and sharing services. Schafer believes its future likes in content. No doubt, but you could argue that Facebook’s future lies there just as much. People will gravitate to whatever platform has the best tools but also, most importantly, where their friends are to access that content.

Spotify Finally Arrives: The Yeti of music services, Spotify, is apparently finally, really truly coming to America. This has been the greatest tease for some time. Spotify’s proponents rave about it, so it will be interesting to see if it can put a dent into Apple’s stranglehold. Check it out.

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