Snap Inc.’s IPO Shows The Signs of a Tech Bubble

If it wasn’t clear until now that there is a bubble in the tech industry, it is very clear now. Snap Inc.’s shares soared in its initial public offering by almost 50 per cent. This is crazy stuff from a company that Mark Zuckerberg is increasingly trying to emulate with its disappearing messages feature. The only thing that is uncertain is what will happen to this bubble. Will it deflate gradually or burst suddenly? It’s impossible to know but I guess that it will be on a downward trajectory of some kind at some point anyhow. Markets will be markets but what will be more interesting is how Snap Inc.’s hope of growing and changing the company will play out.


Poem: What Next for The World?

What next for the world,

What next for us?

What next for the world,

Is it written on a bus?

What next for the world,

What next for the good?

What next for the bad,

What will happen –

What should?




Is it time for us to live the future free?

The Branding of Juventus and Pogba

Like it or loathe it, Juventus’ new logo is another sign of the branding and commercial focus of soccer clubs nowadays. Juventus is up against all the other big clubs and they need to make an effort to stand out. Even if I happen to like the new logo, the announcement was full of the usual marketing mumbo jumbo, so it quickly became annoying and pretentious.

It may also be a mistake. Juventus’ logo is recognised by millions so to change it seems like a silly waste of money and, more importantly, branding capital. They have to start from scratch with this new logo. It helps that it features a capitalised “j”, but still. Much more important, however, is the players this club can attract and what it can achieve on the pitch.

Paul Pogba spent a bit of time getting “p”s shaved into his head and having two capitalised “p”s bleached a greenish yellow colour to signify “Paul Pogba” on his noggin alongside getting his own Twitter emoji. Considering his performance against Liverpool on Sunday he should probably be focusing on how to get the best performance out of himself for his club. Though I think it has become clear to a lot of people that his choice to move to Manchester United was driven as much by commercial and branding ambitions as soccer ones.

All Publicity is Good Publicity in US Politics

This opinion piece: is clearly just one angle rather than a comprehensive assessment of why Trump won. This is partly because The Irish Times wants to write more than one article about Trump.

Anyway, the US media made Trump. The Irish Times and the rest of the Irish media are obsessed with Trump – just like the US media.

Of course the media, as a group, want to say they had no part in Trump’s victory, but it’s just not true. What Trump understands about publicity is that all publicity is good publicity in US politics. People, after having a candidate thrust into their faces for a year and a half, forget why they know the candidate’s name but they sure as hell remember that person’s name, and hey, what’s he promising? Change? That doesn’t sound bad to them.

Brexit Will Have Painful Lessons


So the unthinkable happened: Brexit. It appears that the fear and accompanying hatred of immigrants and the promise of a better Britain overcame the fear of leaving the EU. For Ireland and Britain, other countries and the global economy this is most definitely bad news. It’s a cultural tragedy that Ireland and Britain will now not be as European as each other. This decision will cause a mini recession in Britain, quite probably.

It will have a negative effect on Ireland’s economy. Britain might become weaker economically and politically and very ironically have a big reliance on outside countries to help it limit the economic and political damage. The country may descend into right-wing politics before the younger generation – and disaffected citizens generally – decide to vote for left-wing parties.

Most likely it will be a lesson some of the British public will have to learn: Britain is stronger economically and politically in the EU. Another one would be to not let the media and politicians take advantage of you; be a critical thinker. The tabloid media generally were arguably the cheerleaders of Brexit for their own agenda of selling papers and perhaps for tax and lack-of-EU-oversight reasons. They possibly heightened British peoples’ fear of immigrants and some even explicitly came out in favour of Brexit. Even the rest of the media were somewhat complicit in allowing the “Leave” side to win by allowing the referendum debate to be centered on immigration and not arguing in favour of immigrants in terms of what they add to Britain.

And the politicians in favour of Brexit were conceivably more motivated by their own possible political gain in backing Brexit than they were motivated to do something good for their citizens. If the half of the British public led astray learn these lessons and decide, years from now, to rejoin the EU, it may be on the EU’S terms, as Britain would be in a weak bargaining position. They may have to join the euro, for instance. Perhaps then the British public will stop blaming the EU for its problems and instead reform its own country. Examples may be creating enough better-paying jobs, breaking up its banks to end “too big to fail” and improve service and reforming its political system.

Johnson, Farage and Gove, along with the tabloid media generally, may be detested in the years to come by the half of the public that was on their side (alongside the other half, of course). And the rest of the media may not be seen in a favourable light either.

Scotland and possibly Northern Ireland may soon seek to extricate themselves from the United Kingdom. This could deal more economic damage to England and Wales. Scotland leaving could hurt the Labour Party in Britain, as they derive a lot of their support from that country. And the Queen will not be amused to see her empire crumble. And maybe if what’s left of Britain declines economically some of the public may blame the immigrants who are already in the country for their woes once again.

But it may be all alright. The world moves on. We will all adapt.


Facebook Thinks Video Will be Bigger Than Mobile


Perhaps the reason why Facebook sees video as potentially being bigger than mobile is that video causes much more “user engagement” than other media – meaning it causes more of a connection, an effect, an experience of customers with one another or with a company or a brand.

This also means it’s better for advertisers. This may tie in with the company’s efforts in virtual reality, and could help give the corporation a laser-like focus on video.

Live video, of course, is more exciting, just like live sports or live news broadcasts are exciting.

This feature has enormous potential. Historic moments can be shared via a live feed to huge numbers of people. This can also make users feel that they have experienced something special – and this can even be the case with any live video; you feel that you’re in the moment and witnessing an event in an exclusive time-window alongside lots of other people are witnessing the same thing. It may be a vicarious experience most of the time, but other times it could be a communal experience. And of course when it comes to friends, they can share a live feed of what they’re getting up to, which can make social networking among friends more exciting.

There may be problems initially with too many live feeds without any filter, but I’m sure that Facebook will sort that out in due course.

Zuckerberg’s Philanthropic Quest for Power

Inside The F8 Facebook Developers Conference

Mark Zuckerberg may be about to ensure he has absolute power over Facebook. Recent news shows that he seeks to create a new class of voting stock that will make sure he has 100 per cent control of the company, even while holding a small amount of shares. And with his limited liability company – the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative – he has pledged to give away 99 per cent of his wealth to charitable causes. Only in this case, he will be funding companies and other initiatives that have a for-profit focus, but serve a charitable agenda. His plan to get 100 per cent control of Facebook seems to indicate that he sees Facebook playing a big role in his plans to change the world. His efforts in Facebook and in philanthropy are going to be separate enterprises no longer; they will from now on be entwined.

This is very intriguing. Zuckerberg may want to socially liberalise America and the world, but also make sure that corporations do very well in this changed world. After all, if he was able to make changes to make things more difficult for corporations and help co-operatives and workers self-directed enterprises (WSDE’s) in the US and worldwide then his company wouldn’t be as powerful as it is now. And I’m sure Zuckerberg wants to maximise its power.

Zuckerberg may want to tailor what people see in the news feed and in the trending stories section to show more socially liberal stories – the trending stories having been a recent controversy in the US. This would create an echo-chamber effect that could influence peoples’ minds. Now, in many ways this is nothing new. Arguably news publishers have tried to influence people to be more business-friendly and to be a bit more right-leaning in their beliefs for decades.


Yik Yak is Bad News

This is an unedited version of an article I wrote over a year ago for my university student newspaper:

An app that is making waves in America for mostly bad reasons that may not be far from arriving in Ireland.

Yik Yak is an online bulletin board for college students and high school students in America with a twist: those who post to the app’s Twitter-like feed are anonymous, only 500 people who are within a mile and half radius can see the content, and only posts by those in the posters contact list are visible. Users of the app can upvote or downvote the 200 characters or less posts.

The reason behind its popularity is due to the fact it is more area specific and current than other social networks, so students can comment on the lecture or the lecturer during a lecture. One lecturer in the US claimed that a poster made a degrading comment about her appearance during a lecture which she found hard to deal with as all the students could see the comment simultaneously.

In Chicago a high school teen allegedly committed suicide allegedly due to bullying he received on Yik Yak. The problem for colleges and high schools in America is that it is a place where people post light-hearted comments, but also gossip, rumour, slander, and generally negative messages about students and lecturers in order to bully or undermine. In many ways it’s quite like the controversial website Ask.FM that caused a lot of hurt and even suicides in Ireland and in other countries.

While schools in America have banned Yik Yak as a reactionary move, I think UCC and other Irish universities (and for that matter, secondary schools) could ban this app before it becomes a menace. As many people in America have said, Yik Yak doesn’t bring anything useful to the table, only suffering and unnecessary public humiliation. The app is also apparently used as a forum for sexually explicit information and even threats.

However, news broke on 23 of November that the app had raised $62 million in venture capital and is currently valued at almost $400 million. One could say that that seems reasonable in this crazy tech bubble; communication apps are very hot right now – an example is Facebook buying WhatsApp back in February for $16 billion in cash and stock and recently Snapchat has been valued at an insane $10 billion.

This app is actually quite like the apps Whisper and Secret, who are both chasing the anonymous messaging App space with limited success. Secret has crashed and burned by dropping out of the top 250 apps in the Apple App Store in the US in September and now is out of the top 1000. Whisper, meanwhile, is still in the top 500 in the US but was hit by a damning report by the Guardian that is was secretly tracking users, despite claiming to not do so at all. Perhaps this has slowed the app’s momentum a bit. The difference with Whisper is that you can’t post someone’s real name when you are writing a message about them, but that’s still not a huge barrier to identifying the person being slandered. Secret claims to moderate their app to prevent bullying, but I doubt it’s their primary focus.

I hope that in future, Irish universities and other stakeholders will watch what smart phone apps are becoming popular in America, and prepare for their inevitable deployment in Ireland, or even ban the bad apps before they become popular. I understand how we must not live in fear of apps, and maybe it’s impossible to ban these apps anyway. But it would be great to have a debate about them before they arrive in Ireland, because people might come up with great public awareness campaigns in universities, and offer good advice to students and lecturers.