Startup Watch: a Skype ‘Slack’, lazy leaders, and investors’ reading habits

The world of entrepreneurship news is a complex one, with people ever ready to give their two cents on how you should be running your business/VC fund/incubator. Here’s our wrap up of what we’re reading on how you can’t stop learning, how Saudi is getting its cybersecurity act together, and whether or not it’s safe to worship at the altar of technology.

Microsoft's competitor to Slack. Skype Teams (yes that’s what they’re calling it). Microsoft seems to be a bit too desperate here, especially as earlier this year it was trying to buy Slack for $8 billion. They’re even including core features of Skype, such as video calls, in a channel or privately. To add to that though, they’re including a function to schedule meetings - super useful - and an alternative for GIFs! Now what could that be?

From the Skype Team functions plan. (Image via mspoweruser)

Accomplished leaders shouldn’t stop learning. Gone are the days C-level leaders can delegate the job of keeping up with technology to the IT guys. Technology is one discipline where leaders really can’t afford to stagnate. With digital transformation so central to strategy for most companies all executives, especially CEOs, must embrace a learning mind-set. Read on for some tips.

Saudi Arabia getting its act together on cybersecurity. It is no longer considered breaking news when you read about cyberattacks in the kingdom - it’s the most targeted country in the Middle East. So, now, finally, eventually, at last, as part of their National Transformation Program and Saudi Vision 2030, they are getting their act together and trying to improve efforts with clear national strategies, policies, and legal frameworks, which until now, have been absent.

Wamda of the week: MENA gets an aviation incubator. Intelak. And this is not MENA’s first trial. Oasis500 already had a go at dipping its toes but with no luck so far. Maybe the Emirates Group, General Electric (GE), Etisalat and Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA) will have more luck.

Investors’ reading habits influence stock prices. It’s no secret that readers pay more attention to negative news, news about larger and better-known companies, and news published earlier in the week. Same thing applies to investors. Pitfalls of news consumption emerge predictably from human psychology. This might not surprise journalists or news junkies, but it challenges the idea that financial markets absorb all news equally, based only on financial relevance.

Intel buys the company that gives machines “the power of sight”. Having missed out on the mobile chip market, and lagging behind in supplying the hardware for the burgeoning field of AI, Intel wants to acquire its way into the vanguard of the next emerging trend. So what does that mean? Well, buying up Movidius of course. It’s a firm that makes computer vision chips used in drones and smart devices. Yay.

No to the fingers, yes to the voice. Siri, Google Now, Cortana, and Alexa are proof of how good speech recognition has become lately - dictating to your phone can be faster than typing. According to recent studies, computers can carry out speech-to-text dictation three times faster than people can type. Time to give the digits a rest and get yapping.

The internet has become a cage. A long read but a good one. Technology and culture writer Nicholas Carr’s The World Wide Cage essay takes a look at how tech has taken over, and Mark Zuckerburg is all into killing his own meat. Talking about the “religion of technology” Carr humorously AND solemnly observes whether or not “the computer network is a technology of emancipation” and points out that “smartphones have made media machines of us all – but little real empowerment and even less reflectiveness”. Ouf.

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