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Cars with no steering wheels and real time translation

My news feeds were buzzing this morning with talk of two product demos at codecon yesterday. Interestingly they were both from large, established companies, not startups:

  • Google co-founder Sergey Brin demonstrated a ‘built From scratch to be driverless’ car with no steering wheel, pedals or mirrors
  • Microsoft’s new CEO Saya Nadella demonstrated real time speech-to-speech translation on Skype (which he brilliantly described as fulfilling a dream that humanity has had for thousands of years)

Also of note is that both were by people in the top 1 or 2 slots at their companies. Big and bold innovation is a central plank for any decent tech company these days.

The final thing of interest here is that Brin said Google likes to work on only eight projects ‘moonshot’ projects at a time. Even a company as big as Google and as skilled at innovation as Google can’t run with more than eight projects and do them well. There are more than eight areas within the ambit of Google that are ripe for innovation and there is space for startup competitors in the areas on which they choose not to focus. Some of those areas will turn out to be big opportunities too. Social is a good example of something that Google chose not to focus on during the critical period of the market and that has gone on to take significant share internet advertising, Google’s core business.