Apple CEO Tim Cook appeared on CNBC last week to deliver some big news: The Company That Steve Jobs Built is placing $1 billion into a fund, which will then be invested in advanced manufacturing companies in the United States. This will presumably help Apple source more components for its computers and phones here.
“We can be the ripple in the pond,” Cook told Jim Cramer. “Those manufacturing jobs create jobs around them, because you have a service industry that grows around them.”
Voice computing has been revving at the starting gate for some time. It’s finally having its breakout moment with the market success of Amazon’s Echo device and Alexa voice assistant. The emergence of voice has implications well beyond the opportunity to bark out Amazon orders and song requests to a compliant digital helper (The Economist): “Computers without screens and keyboards have the potential to be more useful, powerful and ubiquitous than people can imagine today.” At its best, it feels like casting spells.
But the magic of voice commands comes with a cost. Echo is a corporate owned microphone listening in on your living room. The whole system works better the more fully you let it in on all the details of your life. How prepared are you for that?
The anger that elected Donald Trump, many believe, was about lost jobs, but not just any lost jobs. It’s factory jobs that Trump voters crave. Trouble is, they’re not coming back: Today’s release of the December jobs report, the final one for President Obama’s tenure, shows a gain of 156,000 jobs total for the month. That even includes 17,000 manufacturing jobs! But the factory-job tally for the whole year shows a drop of 45,000 (ABC News).
This is an irreversible, decades-long transformation. Even the jobs that survive a strong dollar and overseas competition will get eaten by automation. Long term, service-sector jobs and “pink-collar” work in healthcare and education are what’s growing in the U.S. But white guys don’t like these jobs because they see them as “women’s work” (Claire Cain Miller in The New York Times).
We’re building the Model 01, a hackable ergonomic keyboard with mechanical keyswitches, programmable RGB LEDs, opensource firmware, and a gorgeous hardwood enclosure. We expect to ship later this year. You can pre-order one today at https://shop.keyboard.io. The discount code “BOXOFCRAP” will take fifteen bucks off your order.
Last summer, we ran a pretty successful Kickstarter campaign for our first product, the Model 01 keyboard. Since then, we’ve been hard at work getting the first run of a few thousand keyboards manufactured. It’s been a bit more of an adventure than we’d expected, but things are proceeding apace.
Unsurprisingly, setting up manufacturing has meant that Jesse’s been spending…rather a lot of time in Shenzhen. Mostly, his days at the factory start at 9:30 AM and wrap up somewhere between 8 and 10 PM. But on Sundays, he’s been at loose ends. This trip, he decided to do something about that.
We’ve long been fascinated by the Huaqiangbei electronics market area of Shenzhen. (Hereafter, we’ll just call it HQB.) If you need some bit of electronics or a phone accessory, you can find it in HQB. There is an entire multi-floor shopping mall that sells nothing but phone cases. There’s one that specializes in smartwatches. There’s a mall that sells cellphones wholesale. There’s one just for surveillance cameras. And then there are the component markets. Need a chip? Or 250,000 chips? Somebody there can get them for you.
September 13th, Shanghai. 8AM. There was anticipation and excitement in the air. NewCo attendees arrived at the cozy, wood-laden office of Chinaccelerator in the flourishing downtown of Shanghai beside the famous Jing’an Temple.
“Nothing like this existed in China before, where you get to visit the offices of the hottest internet companies in China and learn from the management what makes their companies tick,” said William Bao Bean, Managing Director of Chinaccelerator, which brought NewCo to Asia for the first time.
We’re thrilled to announce that NewCo is partnering with Chinaccelerator to produce the first ever NewCo festival in Asia. NewCo Shanghai is first up on the fall NewCo tour, which also includes Toronto, Barcelona, Istanbul and Mexico City.
On September 13th, more than 20 mission-driven companies across Shanghai will open their doors and welcome intimate groups of NewCo festival attendees into their workspaces. Shanghai has a rapidly evolving tech industry and exciting international dynamics. Every year more companies move to Shanghai, including our NewCo partner Chinaccelerator which moved there three years ago. (Our US readers might have heard of their sister company IndieBio, based in the SF Bay area).
We’ve been eager to expand NewCo to China, and we’re looking forward to working with Chinaccelerator. NewCo’s unique “inside out” approach affords festival goers a view into the vibrant business ecosystem in Shanghai. Industries such as big data, machine learning, AI, ad-tech, education, and cloud computing will be highlighted in the first-year festival. NewCo Beijing will be added in 2017, and we are equally thrilled to show off the innovation and positive change being championed by companies in that city.