Every year, TIME recognizes those who exemplify the very best wit and wisdom Twitter has to offer.
Two days, two major brands’ Twitter accounts hacked. Does Twitter provide enough security and service to the brands who rely on it to communicate with millions of consumers?
Twitter began as a platform for people to send short, mass messages, and as brands began to uncover its usefulness, they, too, jumped in. Today Twitter essentially treats as equals brands with millions of followers and people with only a handful, offering one standard account type to serve both. But events over the past two weeks, including the hacking of a pair of brand accounts, Jeep and Burger King, point to the need for a distinction.
Take, for instance, security. Should Twitter have more enterprise-level security for its brand accounts, which are increasingly how marketers communicate with millions of fans? Right now, the same level of security that applies to a regular Twitter user also applies to a brand with millions of followers. Over the past two days Twitter kept silent on the issue of security, other than to tweet “a friendly reminder about password security” from the @TwitterAds account, with a link to a blog post that leads with a tip about using strong passwords.
Twitter declined to comment on the hacks, citing the privacy of individual accounts. But Gizmodo has made a speculative ID of the hacker based on the content of his tweets and posits that the Burger King account was breached by resetting a password via a compromised email account.
It’s unclear whether lax password-security practices by the brands were a factor, but it seems unlikely in light of the vigilance most big brands practice where community management is concerned. Matt Wurst, 360i’s director of digital communities, suggests between five and 10 people total normally have the password for a major marketer’s Twitter account at any given time, in his agency’s experience.
At a minimum, there have been calls for Twitter to implement two-factor authentication, which Facebook has offered since April 2011. Google and Dropbox also use that tactic to improve security for users. On Facebook, this requires a user to verify his or her identity by responding to a text in order to access a Facebook account from a new device.
Twitter has hinted that it will implement the same security provision, even posting a job listing for a software engineer to focus on product security and work on features like “multifactor authentication.” But it’s given no explicit timetable for when the rollout can be expected.
“They’ve been oddly silent about this, and I think they can’t be for long,” said Ian Schafer, CEO of Deep Focus. “Two-step authentication is long overdue. Other companies, including their competition, have it.”
While much of the past two days’ focus has been on account security, there’s other evidence that Twitter may need to create special services and accommodations for its brand users. Take, for instance, the experience of Coca-Cola during the Super Bowl. The marketer could not tweet from its handle for almost two hours because it had exceeded the limit of 1,000 daily tweets allowed by Twitter, a measure that’s largely in place to curb spam.
Upside of hacked
The potential to be hacked is the social-media bogeyman that haunts many brands, but the week’s hacks unveiled a potential upside: an infusion of new followers that neither brand had to spend money to attract. Burger King grew its follower count from 83,000 to 110,000 inside of an hour. Tweeted the brand Monday night when it was back in the driver’s seat: “Interesting day here at BURGER KING, but we’re back! Welcome to our new followers. Hope you all stick around!”
Other brands tried to horn in the act. MTV was widely derided for trying to insert itself into the fracas after the network faked a hack modeled after the other two, replacing its logo with BET’s, before tweeting that it was all a joke. And Denny’s posted a mocking tweet: “OMG we hacked ourselves because it’s the cool thing to do!”
Social-media agency M80’s president, Jeff Semones, lauded Burger King’s example and said it proves that some positive can be derived from an account hack, depending on how the aftermath is handled.
“It’s the way we respond as marketers that determines whether we earn respect or get dinged,” he said.
Source: Ad Age
Deloitte & Touche LLP, the world’s largest accounting and financial services company, has added Saint Paul-based animal genome editing leader Recombinetics (RCI) to an elite collection of emerging companies participating in its Deloitte Growth Services Group for mid-market and privately held firms.
“This relationship is highly significant for Recombinetics because it connects the tremendous opportunity represented by our business model with some of the world’s most experienced, successful business planners and analysts,” said Scott Fahrenkrug, Recombinetics’ Chief Executive Officer.
According to Justin Zenanko, Recombinetics’ Chief Financial Officer, “Since Recombinetics joined the Growth Services Group in April 2012, Deloitte has helped us shape our forecasting model, our approach to product commercialization, and our strategies for delivering value to shareholders.” Furthermore, said Zenanko, “Deloitte’s designation of Recombinetics as an elite, emerging company speaks volumes about our potential for growth, particularly with access to the industry standard in business expertise.”
A Minnesota-based private company with proprietary genome editing solutions, Recombinetics uses its technologies in the agricultural arena to accelerate the breeding of natural characteristics into pigs and other livestock to enhance their health and welfare and advance worldwide food production.
In the biomedical arena, Recombinetics applies its genome editing solutions to pigs to duplicate human diseases in order to better study and develop therapeutic compounds, devices and protocols.
Recombinetics’ extensive internal portfolio of validated technologies includes world-wide, exclusive rights to use Cellectis Bioresearch’s Meganucleases and TALENs for both biomedical and agricultural applications in livestock, as well as gene editing technologies based on DNA repair enzymes and mobile DNA.
Since its founding in 2008, Recombinetics has secured over $2.8 million in private investment and funding through contracts with the animal agriculture industry and granting agencies at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Investors in emerging medical technologies have grown used to putting money behind sophisticated digital medical devices, life-saving new drugs and diagnostics that give scientists a bird’s-eye view of the progression of diseases.
But in 2013, investors will get the chance to support a truly new and novel medical tool that is expected to help medical researchers: a 200-pound pig with serious coronary artery disease.
“Gene-editing” startup Recombinetics Inc. has raised $250,000 of a Series A round that the company hopes will reach $2 million, Chief Financial Officer Justin Zenanko said. The funding was provided by undisclosed angel investors, and the St. Paul, Minn.-based company aims to raise the balance from angels as well.
Animals bred with serious medical conditions are of great clinical value to pharmaceutical companies, medical device companies, contract research organizations and universities, all of which are vying to come out with new treatments for the conditions, Mr. Zenanko said.
“We are tailor-making pigs with the same genotype as [these customers’] patient populations have,” he said. “Pigs have 91% of the same genetics as humans.”
The company, which raised $1.3 million from undisclosed angels before it began raising its Series A, developed its gene-editing technology in a lab in St. Paul, the CFO said.
The company begins with a DNA sample reaped from a healthy farm animal, he said. Recombinetics then manipulates the sample, adding and activating genes that predispose an animal to coronary artery disease.
The sample is then re-introduced into a healthy animal, a process done with one of the company’s business partners located in Wisconsin. When the animal gives birth, its offspring is prone to atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.
Pre-programming pigs to suffer from such a condition is a huge shortcut for medical researchers, Mr. Zenanko said, who today often rely on getting such results the old-fashioned way: getting them to eat nothing but fatty foods for several years. The process is costly, time-consuming and often ineffective, he said.
Recombinetics hopes to ramp up production to 600 diseased pigs per year by 2016.
The company, Mr. Zenanko said, has also raised about $1 million in non-dilutive funding from the National Institutes of Health and the U.S.D.A.
As a platform technology, Recombinetics will be able to breed pigs with other serious medical conditions as well, the CFO said. The company is currently working on gene-editing technology that will give pigs colon cancer, so that researchers can speed up trials of potential cures for the condition.
Recombinetics has been raising the round at a pre-money valuation of $8.2 million, and expects to close the Series A with a post-money valuation of $10.2 million.
Obtaining the lay of your genomic landscape is becoming easier and cheaper. A Twin Cities startup called Miinome wants to help you set up a security fence around this most personal of property—while providing a gate for salespeople you might want to drop in.
“We have organizations using all kinds of data about us to market to us,” says Miinome, Inc., co-founder Scott Fahrenkrug, an associate professor of genetics at the University of Minnesota. “So if you can predict behavior from genetics, then you can predict what kinds of products they might want.”
Here’s the business plan. You (the Miinome “member”) get free or low-cost genetic sequencing using epithelial cells from inside your mouth. Once your genome is sequenced, Miinome would keep this information safe for you, for free—unlike many sequencers who offer no such promises with the genomes they sequence, according to the company. Miinome’s customers, which might include food companies, retailers like Amazon.com, and even online matchmakers, pay Miinome for data on its members. You could choose to share a genetically influenced trait—say, gluten intolerance or disposition toward risk-taking, as part of that data “sale.” You’d be marketed to only if you chose to be.
“[Genetic] data is going to be generated,” Fahrenkrug says. “There will be folks out there that are taking that data and trying to market for all these applications we’ve been talking about. What really differentiates us is our perspective on the civil liberties side. We want this to be opt-in. [Other companies are] treating it like data,” he adds. “We want to treat it as your personal property.” Credibility is so paramount to Miinome that Harvard geneticist George Church will join the company as an advisor in 2013.
by Gene Rebeck, Twin Cities Business Magazine
As Facebook and Twitter become as central to workplace conversation as the company cafeteria, federal regulators are ordering employers to scale back policies that limit what workers can say online.
Employers often seek to discourage comments that paint them in a negative light. Don’t discuss company matters publicly, a typical social media policy will say, and don’t disparage managers, co-workers or the company itself. Violations can be a firing offense.
But in a series of recent rulings and advisories, labor regulators have declared many such blanket restrictions illegal. The National Labor Relations Board says workers have a right to discuss work conditions freely and without fear of retribution, whether the discussion takes place at the office or on Facebook.
In addition to ordering the reinstatement of various workers fired for their posts on social networks, the agency has pushed companies nationwide, including giants like General Motors, Target and Costco, to rewrite their social media rules.
Read more at nytimes.com
BOOM times are back in Silicon Valley. Office parks along Highway 101 are once again adorned with the insignia of hopeful start-ups. Rents are soaring, as is the demand for fancy vacation homes in resort towns like Lake Tahoe, a sign of fortunes being amassed. The Bay Area was the birthplace of the semiconductor industry and the computer and internet companies that have grown up in its wake. Its wizards provided many of the marvels that make the world feel futuristic, from touch-screen phones to the instantaneous searching of great libraries to the power to pilot a drone thousands of miles away. The revival in its business activity since 2010 suggests progress is motoring on.
So it may come as a surprise that some in Silicon Valley think the place is stagnant, and that the rate of innovation has been slackening for decades. Peter Thiel, a founder of PayPal, an internet payment company, and the first outside investor in Facebook, a social network, says that innovation in America is “somewhere between dire straits and dead”. Engineers in all sorts of areas share similar feelings of disappointment. And a small but growing group of economists reckon the economic impact of the innovations of today may pale in comparison with those of the past.
Some suspect that the rich world’s economic doldrums may be rooted in a long-term technological stasis. In a 2011 e-book Tyler Cowen, an economist at George Mason University, argued that the financial crisis was masking a deeper and more disturbing “Great Stagnation”. It was this which explained why growth in rich-world real incomes and employment had long been slowing and, since 2000, had hardly risen at all (see chart 1). The various motors of 20th-century growth—some technological, some not—had played themselves out, and new technologies were not going to have the same invigorating effect on the economies of the future. For all its flat-screen dazzle and high-bandwidth pizzazz, it seemed the world had run out of ideas.
Read more at economist.com