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Alphabet Allows The Best Of Google Technology To Shine

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AlphabetGoogleAs Sergey Brin and Larry Page wrote in Google’s original founders’ letter 11 years ago, the world would see the company take “smaller bets in areas that might seem very speculative or even strange when compared to our current businesses.”

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Once solely an Internet search project called “BackRub,” Google has over the past sixteen years ventured into new frontiers like drones, pharmaceuticals, venture capital and even space technology. Less than ten years ago it picked up YouTube, which is now a household name.

The Silicon Valley icon has chosen to reorganize under a new name: Alphabet Incorporated in order to encompass the ever growing range of industries it is disrupting. There have been changes for the company’s executives as well.

Brin and Page are to become president and CEO of the Alphabet holding company, respectively. Sundar Pichai, former vice president in charge of Android, Chrome and Google apps, becomes the CEO of Google.

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Read More: Google Providing Internet to Sri Lanka With Balloons

The general idea is to group moneymaking businesses apart from the so-called “science” projects. This, Page implies, will let some of the more speculative companies to develop their identities. It could also allow the company to minimize regulatory risk most often aimed at Google Search.

So what remains of Google? Search engine, advertising, maps, YouTube, and the Android mobile operating system and mobile apps, according to Monday’s Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

“For Sergey and me this is a very exciting new chapter in the life of Google — the birth of Alphabet,” Page, the Google chief executive, wrote in a blog post on Monday. “We liked the name Alphabet because it means a collection of letters that represent language, one of humanity’s most important innovations, and is the core of how we index with Google search.” You can see the company’s new website at http://abc.xyz.

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Alphabet Website

“We’ve long believed that over time companies tend to get comfortable doing the same thing, just making incremental changes,” Mr. Page wrote. “But in the technology industry, where revolutionary ideas drive the next big growth areas, you need to be a bit uncomfortable to stay relevant.”

Google has endured pressure from Wall Street investors to organize better its multi-faceted and universal approach to business. Page expressed to The Financial Times last year that Google’s core businesses – like Search – were not Google’s primary goal.

Read More: Google Improving Tools To Traverse The Globe

“The societal goal is our primary goal,” he told FT. “We’ve always tried to say that with Google. I think we’ve not succeeded as much as we’d like.” The move allows Google to focus now on what makes money so that Alphabet can strive for human progress, according to the sentiments seemingly laid out in Page’s statement. Google’s $62 billion+ in cash and its diverse ventures place the behemoth in uncharted territory.

“We’re in a bit of uncharted territory,” Page told FT in 2014. “We’re trying to figure it out. How do we use all these resources . . . and have a much more positive impact on the world?”

Disrupt Everything

Google’s most far out businesses include home automation via Android; Google X’s reported robots and elevators to space; its driverless cars; Google.org, the company’s non-profit clean energy wing; Adimab, Google’s new drug research arm; The Climate Corporation’s insurance service against damage due to climate change; as well as Recorded Future, Google’s pursuit to predict the future.

“Sergey and I are seriously in the business of starting new things,” writes Page. “Alphabet will also include our X lab, which incubates new efforts like Wing, our drone delivery effort. We are also stoked about growing our investment arms, Ventures and Capital, as part of this new structure.”

Alphabet Inc. will take the place of Google Inc. as the publicly-traded company with Google becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary of Alphabet.

The move will allow Google to manage its risk in potentially new ways. Under the new structure, Google could enjoy incorporation in laissez-faire tax and regulatory regions, although there are no signs this is in the company’s plans.

“We also like that [the name] means alpha-bet (Alpha is investment return above benchmark), which we strive for!” Page wrote. “I should add that we are not intending for this to be a big consumer brand with related products–the whole point is that Alphabet companies should have independence and develop their own brands.”

“Don’t worry,” Page added, “we’re still getting used to the name too!”

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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New York-Based TokenBnk Launches Crypto Savings Account

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The blockchain ecosystem is budding with innovation. TokenBnk has added its name to the list of most interesting blockchain startups when it launched a decentralized application that functions very much like a traditional savings account.

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Traditional Finance Meets Cryptocurrency

New York-based TokenBnk is the world’s first Ethereum-based savings account. The general idea behind TokenBnk is that you can deposit tokens into your Savings Contract (instead of a savings account) and earn rewards in the same token you hold. It operates very much like a traditional bank account, only for cryptocurrency. That’s kinda what we’re all about here at Hacked.

To illustrate how the platform works, suppose you receive 1,000 TBK as a reward and hold 500 of them in ether and 500 in OmiseGo. You will receive the same proportion of tokens back into your Savings Contract, thereby boosting your position size.

To withdraw ether from your savings account, you must pay a predetermined fee using the platform’s native TBK token. The fee is distributed as an award throughout the network via smart contract. The amount network participants receive is proportional to the percentage of the Total Network Value they represent.

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The Launch

TokenBnk emerged-by-stealth on or about Thursday, much to the surprise of the author, who has been anticipating this project for quite some time. The release was accompanied by an 11-page whitepaper and plans for a Nov. 30 token launch.

The protocol is being audited as we speak before beta testing goes live. TokenBnk will launch via mobile app some time in Q1 2018, followed by a full platform launch later in the year.

The development team behind TBK is impressive, with the main website listing 14 young men who can’t be more than 35 years old. The team hails from some of America’s most prestigious universities, such as Stanford, Princeton, Columbia, Carnegie Mellon and NYU. Private sector experience is also exemplified with stints at Amazon, AngelList and J.P. Morgan. (We’re glad the former JPM employees at TokenBnk didn’t drink from the same Kool-Aid as Jamie Dimon.)

TokenBnk CEO Shayne Coplan makes a strong case for his platform, especially for those of us keen on investing in cryptos over the long term.

“Currently, most long term holders leave their tokens in their Ethereum wallet, but why do that if you can yield automated regular returns by storing them on the blockchain as part of the TokenBnk network?” Coplan told Hacked. “The idea of holding fiat currency long term and earning no ROI is considered foolish, and it will be no different for cryptocurrencies.”

Coplan was part of the ETH presale back in 2014. With ether prices recently surging past $300, most market participants probably regret trading it right off the bat.

“In hindsight, the buy and hold strategy massively outperformed even the most successful of traders,” Coplan adds. “With the new wave of tokens arriving in the market over the next few years, hopefully TokenBnk can help token holders avoid making that same mistake.”

Ether trails only bitcoin in the race for market cap and is widely considered one of the most promising cryptos from a development point of view.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

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Blockchain, Insurance and the Crisis of Trust

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Blockchain has been described as the modern-day cure for many ailments facing industry. For insurers, the ledger technology can change the way businesses process claims, share data and prevent fraud.

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Blockchain for Insurance

Fin-tech disruption has played an important role in reshaping the insurance industry. The internet, mobile devices and even data analytics have become indispensable to modern-day insurance providers.  What’s more, the industry full expects this disruption to intensify in coming years.

A survey of financial service providers conducted by PwC found that nearly three-quarters (74%) of insurers identified their own industry as the most likely to undergo significant change as a result of technology. That survey was conducted long before blockchain was even a thing for the average observer.

Fast forward to today, and blockchain is all the rage. Beyond the hype, the ledger technology has radically transformed our perception of record-keeping and trust. As a self-managed system, it can help insurers coordinate claims and boost efficiency without the need for an intermediary.

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Improving Trust

Most people have or at some point will interface with the insurance sector. It is here that they will likely experience the crisis of trust that have caused many to go uninsured. Recent earthquakes in California revealed that only 17% of the state’s homeowners have insurance to cover the natural disaster.

Of course, everyone in the state knows about the San Andreas fault. The choice to go uninsured is a rational one aimed at circumnavigating an industry plagued by a lack of trust. Blockchain isn’t some magic bullet that will fix this problem. But what it can and will provide is transparency.

More transparency can create a more efficient insurance sector by reducing or eliminating all together the need for manual processes. As anyone who has tried to switch healthcare providers knows, manual data entry is prone to huge risks, not to mention fear of losing personal data.  Through blockchain, personal data may be controlled by an individual, but verification is registered on the immutable ledger book.

Blockchain also provides smart contract capability, which can greatly enhance claims processing. By recording and verifying contracts on the ledger, insurers can guarantee that only valid claims are made. For consumers, it also means not having to fill out cumbersome paperwork.

Insurers are also leaning on the blockchain to detect fraud, which drains businesses out of tens of billions of dollars annually. The blockchain’s permanent record provides a decentralized repository insurers can use to verify every customer, policy and transaction. Before the blockchain, this would have required extensive cooperation between various actors.

There’s already a budding community of blockchain companies involved in the insurance industry. Together with other finance companies, they are among the biggest draws of the ICO market. According to CoinSchedule, more than 9% of the total funds raised via ICOs this year have come to finance companies.

When it comes to blockchain, insurance is another sector investors should carefully monitor. It is highly lucrative, but suffers from huge flaws that these new technologies can help fix.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Gizer and Gaze Coin Join Forces to Shape eSports Future

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Global gaming network Gizer has joined forces with VR platform Gaze Coin in a bid to transform the eSports economy.  The companies are expected to boost monetization channels while providing new opportunities for virtual reality-based gaming.

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Partnership Announced

The strategic partnership, which was just announced via Gizer’s Medium channel, appears to be centered on delivering gaming events in virtual and augmented reality. That’s a powerful concept for the rapidly growing eSports segment.

Gizer launched its crowdsale last month amid much fanfare, and has been ranked one of Hacked.com’s best ICOs of the year. The gaming network made headlines last month after it brought on blockchain heavyweight David Drake to its  advisory board. Drake is the Chairman of LDJ Capital and is regarded as an influential blockchain leader.

Gaze Coin’s ICO is coming down the pipeline for Nov. 28. It will be hosted on the Ethereum platform, with a total supply of 100 million tokens.

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Both companies appear to be synchronizing their development roadmaps to deliver games in virtual and augmented reality. Gizer plans to unveil its marketplace in early 2018. That’s around the same time Gaze Coin intends its launch the mixed-reality game Dream Channel, which debuted at the Cannes Film Festival this past May.

eSports Industry Is Booming

The eSports ecosystem is growing at a rapid rate, according to various research reports that peg it as a billion-dollar industry over the next two years. Earlier this year, Newzoo said it expects eSports revenues to reach $1.5 billion by 2020, with brand investment doubling over that period.

Clearly, the idea of creating professional leagues out of multiplayer games is gaining in popularity. Given the number of users already playing online, the need for an integrated network that connects all the dots and provides incentives has never been greater. The blockchain can greatly enhance the end user experience by creating a stable infrastructure to handle all transactions. This not only improves the platform, but ensures toxic members are kept at bay. (How many times have you played your favorite EA Sports game only to have to deal with members abusing one another and cheating? The blockchain is a potential remedy.)

Greater community involvement and more opportunity to grow the ecosystem are the other major benefits offered exclusively by the blockchain. And because this environment can be monetized, there’s huge incentive to grow and improve it over time.

In reality, eSports is just one of a myriad of industries currently being developed by the blockchain community. A total of 27 industries have been represented by the ICO universe this year alone, according to CoinSchedule. Gaming and VR token raises have been among the most lucrative, drawing in more than $120 million through the first ten months. That’s roughly 4% of the $3.25 billion in ICO funding raised this  year alone.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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