Tag: start-up

Inspector Ballmer investigates government spending

The shy and retired former executive Steve “there’s a kind of hush” Ballmer is apparently not interested in quietly retiring.

Ballmer owns the Los Angeles Clippers, teaches at Stanford and USC and now has created a new start-up called USAFacts.

The start-ups aim is to improve political discourse by making government financial data easier to access.

A small “army” of economists, professors and other professionals will be looking into and publishing data structured similarly to the 10-K filings companies issue each year — expenses, revenues and key metrics pulled from dozens of government data sources and compiled into a single massive collection of tables.

The nonpartisan site will trace $5.4 trillion in government spending under four categories derived from language in the US Constitution.

Défence spending, for example, is categorised under the header “provide for the common defence,” while education spending is under “secure the blessing of liberty to ourselves and our prosperity”. Spending allocation and revenue sources are each mapped out in blue and pink graphics, with detailed breakdowns along federal, state and local lines. Users can also search for specific datasets, such as airport revenue or crime rates, and the site includes a report of “risk factors” that could inhibit economic growth.

Apparently the idea came from a conversation with his missus Connie who was trying to get him interested in some of her philanthropic efforts.

He thought that since he seemed to be paying rather a lot in tax it should be the government who is providing all the aid and health care to the great unwashed.

She pointed out that it does not work like that because there are things government does not get to do in the US and he was missing out on knowing this.

Ballmer is not one to take that sort of comment lying down, or standing up, particularly there is a chair close to hand, so he sought to figure out what the government really does with the money.

He might not like the results. A big chunk of US tax money appears to go on defence and the rest goes to propping up American corporations.

His database will give more detail and answer questions like how many coppers are employed in various parts of the country and compare that against crime rates
Revenue is brought in from parking tickets and the cost to collect. The percentage of Americans suffer from diagnosed depression and how much the government spends on it.

Ballmer calls it “the equivalent of a 10-K for government,” referring to the kind of annual filing that companies make.

“You know, when I really wanted to understand in depth what a company was doing, Amazon or Apple, I’d get their 10-K and read it. It’s wonky, it’s this, it’s that, but it’s the greatest depth you’re going to get, and it’s accurate.”

Samsung wants to become the world’s biggest acorn upstart

Big acornSamsung has announced plans to adopt a corporate culture akin to a startup saying it wants to be more flexible as growth slows.

Samsung’s executives will sign a pledge to move away from a “top-down” culture and towards a working environment that fosters open dialogue.

The outfit will reduce the number of levels in its staff hierarchy and hold more frequent online discussions between business division heads and employees.

“We aim to reform our internal culture, execute as quickly as a startup company and push towards open communication and continuously innovate,” it said in a statement.

Samsung has been hit by a rapid decline in smartphone profits and the absence of new businesses to drive growth. It has been under pressure to reform its military-style working culture to foster innovation.

It might be a little difficult for the company to change. The system has become pretty entrenched and was helpful while the company was on top. Some analysts warn say there is the risk of Samsung losing its edge as a fast-execution hardware company by attempting to change its ways.

Samsung said it will also cut down on unnecessary internal meetings and simplify reporting procedures in order to improve productivity and offer training to employees to strengthen their “winning spirit”.

Trouble at Github

beardieThere is trouble in weirdy beardy land as the $2 billion startup GitHub is suffering from a brain drain because its top beardies don’t like their king.

Business Insider has been attempting to get the inside trouser measurement of the drama. So far 10 executives have cleaned out their desks and taken their action figures and amine posters home.

The problem appears to be that the King Beardy Cofounder CEO Chris Wanstrath (pictured), with support from the board, is radically changing the company’s culture.

In the old days there was a flat structure based purely on meritocracy and now Wanstrath has bought in supervisors and middle managers. He has abandoned the remote-employee culture and forced senior managers to report to the office.

Some longer-term employees feel like there’s a “culture of fear” where people who don’t support all the changes are being ousted.

Kakul Srivastava, vice president of programme management said that Github was getting bigger and it needed to build a new kind of Enterprise Company where the playbooks of old won’t always work.

riVnhnsiSrivastava (left) is a former Yahoo and Flickr exec and is part of Wanstrath’s management team. She joined GitHub in July to revamp its products and she also does not even have a beard.

Wanstrath became CEO in 2014 after GitHub was embroiled in a sexual-harassment scandal by a female employee who quit. GitHub’s own internal investigation determined that no sexual harassment took place, but said there were other leadership issues going on.

Now he is trying to overhaul Github, with full support from the venture capitalists who backed the company.