What kind of apps catch the attention of Silicon Valley investors?

Early Snapchat investor Jeremy Liew lays out his criteria.

Creating a well-used consumer app is hard. Not only do people download fewer apps than they used to, but big companies like Facebook and Google dominate the world of consumer apps. Also, once an app looks like it might bring competition, Facebook just buys them — or tries to squash them.

But Lightspeed Venture Partners investor Jeremy Liew doesn’t buy it. The narrative that smaller apps and startups can’t catch fire is a total myth, according to Liew.

“Critics have claimed that growth is impossible in the current environment, but they are wrong,” Liew, the first big investor in Snapchat, wrote in a blog post on Friday. “Apps can still break out through word of mouth. If they have the right product hooks, they can get viral growth.”

Yes, it is Liew’s job to think like this. He’s an investor, and investors are always looking for the next big hit. But Liew will continue putting money on the line, and that means there are still opportunities out there despite Facebook, Google and Snapchat sucking a lot of user time.

So what is Liew looking for? Here’s how he described it using Silicon Valley-speak:

“If your app has hit at least 10k DAU with strong engagement (25%+ DAU/MAU, at least 3 sessions/day), retention (30%+ d30 retention — that’s d30, not month 1) and growth (30%+ month on month growth), I’d like to hear from you!”

Let’s translate.

“If your app has hit at least 10k DAU with strong engagement (25%+ DAU/MAU, at least 3 sessions/day)”

What that means:

Your app doesn’t need to be massive. But at a minimum, Liew is looking for apps with at least 10,000 daily users (DAUs).

On top of that, he wants apps where those daily users represent more than 25 percent of the app’s total monthly users.

So let’s pretend you built an app with 100,000 users who visit every month. Liew would consider “strong engagement” to mean 25,000 of those users visit your app every day.

“Retention (30%+ d30 retention — that’s d30, not month 1)”

What that means:

Liew wants to invest in products where users stick around for at least 30 days. Specifically, Liew is looking for apps where more than 30 percent of the people who joined as a user, also opened the app 30 days after their first visit. Basically, did the app keep someone interested for an entire month?

“Growth (30%+ month on month growth)”

What that means:

Is your total user base growing by at least 30 percent in each consecutive month? If so, Liew is interested.

These are the requirements from just one investor. But you can imagine that most investors in Silicon Valley have similar criteria. So the next time you hear about a hot, new app getting millions from a bunch of Silicon Valley venture capitalists, you’ll have a better idea of what caught their eye.

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Physicists Quantum Entangle Silicon Devices to Send Information Over a 20-Centimeter Distance

Storing Quantum Information

In the science of quantum communication, the challenge has always been prolonging the entangled state that the particles are in. As quantum information is carried by these entangled particles, the length of time the entanglement is sustained affects the distance that the information can travel.

Quantum communication systems do this using direct optical-fiber connections, which are rather limited because the way that fibers absorb light can disrupt the entanglement needed to carry quantum information.

Building a quantum internet, which is essentially a network of quantum entangled routers linked by fiber that can store quantum information, requires a function of routers that can store and send entangled particles. A team of researchers from the University of Vienna in Austria, led by Ralf Riedinger, supposedly built such a router.

This device is a nanomachine capable of receiving and storing quantum information sent through ordinary fiber optic cables. It contains a pair of nanofabricated silicon resonators that use electron-beam lithography and plasma reactive-ion etching, which are tiny silicon beams that vibrate like a guitar string.

Image credit: Ralf Riedinger/University of Vienna
The inner workings of this nanomachine. Image Credit: Ralf Riedinger

In order for the machine to store quantum information, the silicon beams needed to vibrate at a precise frequency. Riedinger’s team arrived at the exact frequency, which is 5.1 gigahertz (or a wavelength of about 1,553.8 nanometers), after fabricating around 500 of these silicon resonators and testing each chip to find identical pairs. “We find a total of 5 pairs fulfilling this requirement within 234 devices tested per chip,” the researchers wrote in the paper published online. Both chips were placed in a fridge, while they remained connected to each other by 70 meters of optical cable fiber, covering a distance of 20 centimeters. The two resonators were then successfully entangled. “We create and demonstrate entanglement between two nanomechanical devices across two chips that are separated by 20 cm.,” the researchers wrote.

Making the Quantum Internet Real

In their proof-of-principle experiment, the researchers first cooled the resonators to almost absolute zero to keep them in a quantum ground state. To generate entanglement, they then connected the resonators by a fiber-optic cable that contained photons at the identified resonance frequency.

Although their tests were only done over 20 centimeters, this setup could be significantly expanded. “We do not see any additional restrictions to extend this to several kilometers and beyond,” Riedinger’s team wrote. “The system presented here is directly scalable to more devices and could be integrated into a real quantum network.”

In short, what they’ve built is essentially a working quantum router — a device that could be crucial in realizing a quantum internet. Even better, it could be modified to carry information over microwave frequencies, according to the MIT Technology Review, and therefore be connected with quantum computers that operate on these frequencies.

“Combining our results with optomechanical devices capable of transferring quantum information from the optical to the microwave domain could provide a backbone for a future quantum internet using superconducting quantum computers,” Riedinger and his colleagues wrote.

Just like how quantum computers would change our problem-solving abilities, a quantum internet is expected to completely revolutionize communication. This is partially because it promises to be more secure, thanks to quantum cryptography that renders messages potentially un-hackable. Experts believe that we’re only a decade away from realizing a working, secure quantum network.

The post Physicists Quantum Entangle Silicon Devices to Send Information Over a 20-Centimeter Distance appeared first on Futurism.


Ron Conway thinks Silicon Valley needs to have its ‘eyes wide open’ to Trump, immigration and U.S. politics

He said Monday the tech industry should be more outspoken around issues like DACA.

Ron Conway says that Silicon Valley needs to get more serious about politics.

In the eyes of one of the tech industry’s most prominent investors, the challenges that Apple, Facebook, Google and other tech giants now face in Washington, D.C., are more urgent than ever — not the least because President Donald Trump is increasingly taking aim at immigrants.

To that end, he said at an event Monday, the Valley has to have “eyes wide open that we’re in a very volatile environment right now, and the tech industry has to speak up for itself.”

“If you go back five years, literally, tech companies were so apathetic about the political environment and just wanted to avoid politics,” said Conway, one of the earliest investors in companies like Google and PayPal.

“You can’t avoid politics … It so happens we have a president named Trump who’s doing a lot of controversial things, and once again, people need to step up and represent themselves,” he continued.

Atop Conway’s political agenda is a government program known as DACA, which protects children brought to the United States illegally from being deported. Trump has set in motion a plan to scrap that legal shield, threatening the potential deportation of hundreds of thousands of so-called Dreamers next year — a move Conway called “despicable.”

Top technology companies have devoted lobbying dollars and dispatched their executives to the nation’s capital in order to save the program, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which benefits some of their employees. Microsoft publicly told the Trump administration to pause its push for tax reform — a tech industry priority — until it could broker a compromise with Congress over the future of DACA.

And Conway — who appeared onstage Monday at an event hosted by the Internet Association — sported a shirt that read “We Are All Dreamers.” Before promising to distribute them to the crowd, Conway urged tech executives, engineers and lobbyists alike to spread the message on social media and contact their elected officials.

Conway also said he’s “delighted,” for one thing, by the likes of Apple CEO Tim Cook, who “is holding up his hands and saying this isn’t right.”

“We have a duty and an obligation to do that,” he said of the industry’s prominent, public response to Trump, “and I think the rank and file at these companies are very proud of their CEOs right now. It improves morale.”

Some of those tech giants — like Facebook, Google and Twitter — are themselves the subject of scrutiny in the nation’s capital. From concerns that they’re stifling competition to new probes over the extent to which Russian agents coopted their platforms, lawmakers increasingly have set their sights on Silicon Valley and threatened regulation.

“If you look historically over the last five years, there are more tech people than normal being called to Congress on privacy issues, security issues, Russian hacking,” Conway acknowledged. “But my view is, the internet has become so mainstream that the number of congressional hearings that have to do with the internet is still hopefully proportionately low compared to the impact the internet is having on society.”

Some lawmakers, he said, had started intimating the tech industry is rotten at heart. But Conway rejected the notion. “They can try and poke around,” he said, “but we’re not malicious people.”

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