Read Like an Analyst: Startups 101, Data Discrimination, & The App-pocalypse

Here are the tech industry critiques, think-pieces, predictions and opinions that got the Cascade Insights team sharing on Slack this week.

The Read Like an Analyst (RLA) roundup is curated by Cascade Insights analysts Philippe Boutros, Colleen Clancy, Jacob Dittmer, Harrison May, CEO Sean Campbell, and President & CTO Scott Swigart. It is written and edited by Marketing Assistant Isabel Gautschi with Sean serving as editor-in-chief.

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Startups 101

“Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.” – Guy Kawasaki

Tomasz Tunguz, a venture capitalist at Redpoint, shares “The Hottest Startup Sectors In 2016.”

Benjamin Brandall, a content crafter for Process Street, analyzed 250 SaaS Pricing Pages and came up with some interesting findings. 202 of those companies didn’t have pricing available, but here’s a sneak peak of a few of the findings from the remaining 48 that did:

  • “81% organize prices low to high”
  • “38% list their most expensive package as ‘Contact us’”
  • “The most common call to action is ‘Buy Now,’” and “63% offer a free trial.”

When planning sales goals, companies with SaaS offerings should avoid these Six Common Reasons SaaS Sales Plans Fail.

More than 300 SaaS companies were surveyed for the 2015 Pacific Crest SaaS Survey to gain data and insight on growth and operations. Part 1 of the survey focuses on growth rates and go-to-market trends and Part 2 compares “application delivery methods, operational costs and gross margins, contract terms, churn rates, capital requirements and accounting methods.” Major insights from the study are also shared in this infographic.

Jason M. Lemkin asks and answers “Why Can’t SaaS Companies Just Mint Cash?”

Evernote’s 5 percent problem boils down to “there was no core experience,” writes Chris O’Brien for VentureBeat. We’ve all seen products that collapse under the weight of their feature set, this article presents a cautionary tale for tech companies.

“While plenty of people — including founders, top executives and investors — are involved in the rise of a start-up, those hit the hardest during a company’s fall are the rank-and-file employees,” writes Katie Benner for The New York Times. Benner uses the devastating example of what happened to Good Technology employees when the company was sold to BlackBerry in September for less than half of its private valuation.

Big Data Ethics

“…Frankly, data doesn’t create meaning. We do.” – Susan Etlinger in her “What do we do with all this big data?” TED Talk

The Federal Trade Commission recently released a report that warns that big data can lead to discrimination and the exacerbation economic disparity. The report includes guidelines and a section on potentially applicable laws for companies that use big data.

“While it rightly urges companies to be careful not to discriminate, self-monitoring is not enough. We need systems for auditing the proprietary algorithms that make crucial decisions about housing, credit and employment, in order to ensure that they treat everyone fairly,” Rachel Goodman, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Racial Justice Program is quoted in InfoWorld’s write-up of the FTC’s report and its implications.

Bayes’ Theorem inspires a “cultish fervor.” But since beliefs are only as valid as their evidence, there is a lot of subjective wiggle room– and room for error- when using Bayesian analysis. Scientific American gives an excellent explanation of the theorem and how it may lend itself to superstition and pseudoscience.

App-pocalypse

Mobile Web or Mobile App – The War Begins…

“Why is it that the mobile app medium has become saturated with apps while the mobile web is still capable of absorbing more websites? Is there anything we can do at this point?” asks Alex Austin in his article “Mobile App Developers Are Suffering.”

“Today, apps aren’t really necessary,” writes Larry Seltzer for Ars Technica. “In fact, it’s easy to envision an excellent, software-rich mobile device that uses the Web instead of apps.” But will Apple allow that to happen?

That said, websites aren’t doing everything right for user experience either…

IT Pros

“There are 10 types of people in the world: those who understand binary, and those who don’t.”

CIO sums up the “IT certifications that paid off the most in 2015.” CyberSecurity Forensic Analyst (CSFA), Open Group Master Architect, GIAC Reverse Engineering Malware (GREM) were among the certifications that made the list.

Using data from the freelance job-posting site Upwork, Information Week has a nice write-up of the top freelance skills for IT professionals, the top five growing skills and the skills declining in demand.

Mihir Nanavati, Malte Schwarzkopf, Jake Wires, and Andrew Warfield have penned an interesting piece on “The Implications of the Datacenter’s Shifting Center.” “The fact that CPUs can process data at extremely high rates, while simultaneously servicing multiple I/O devices, has had a sweeping impact on the design of both hardware and software for systems of all sizes, for pretty much as long as we’ve been building them,” they write. “This assumption, however, is in the process of being completely invalidated.”

Cascade Insights’ own Ultimate List of B2B Tech Conferences highlights 51 conferences that target IT Pros – out of a total of 275+ conferences that are profiled for 2016.

Tech Titan Tidbits

News never sleeps? Tech never sleeps!

ESG has released a brief on how customers feel about the Dell-EMC deal. The short version: 75% of respondents feel the merger will “positively” impact their organization.

InfoWorld columnist Andrew C. Oliver asks and answers, “What in this new big data Hadoop/Sparky world do you need to know now?” (Spoilers: Hadoop is no longer Hadoop, but it’s far from dead.)

Slate explores the algorithm that selects what appears in our Facebook newsfeeds. It’s only a miniscule fraction of what is being shared by our friends, connections, groups, liked pages and events.

ExpeditedSSL is offering free Amazon Web Services In Plain English guides so you can get up to speed on Amazon’s various services more quickly. Here is a taste: “Route53. Should have been called: Amazon DNS + Domains.”

This Tech In Asia piece attributed the notion that “accepting an order below US$6 for an online food delivery company is equivalent to being suicidal” to Zomato CEO & Co-Founder Deepinder Goyal. Read on for insight into why Zomato has retreated from small Indian cities, is eyeing Southeast Asia for expansion and acquired Urbanspoon to focus on Australia and Canada.

Jukebox

The stand-out articles that didn’t fit into other categories.

Struggling to keep up with blockchains? Simon Taylor lays out 10 things you should be paying attention to.

In this incredibly entertaining read, Emily Dreyfuss, a Boston resident, shares what it’s like to participate in Wired’s office life in San Francisco via robot.

Julia Greenberg’s Wired story, “Page Views Don’t Matter Anymore—But They Just Won’t Die,” opens with a ridiculous and blunt slideshow that perfectly illustrates the point of the piece.

Some private U.S. companies, mostly banks and energy firms, have arranged for the Department of Homeland Security to perform free penetration tests in an effort to boost their cybersecurity defenses.

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