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The national security implications of Chinese venture capitalists are overblown

Washington — as Washington does — is barreling towards a new reform plan designed to protect American innovation from overseas investors (which should really just be read as the Chinese these days). Earlier this week, congressional committees passed a measure designed to strengthen CFIUS, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., which we have written extensively about on TechCrunch. The bill would expand the powers of the committee to review transactions in more contexts, beyond its current mandate of looking only at changes in controlling interests.

Washington — as Washington does — has turned the debate, which was once deeply technical about the machinations of a mostly unknown government agency created during the Korean War, into a histrionic fight about the future of American innovation. Along the way, this classic DC dramatization threatens to rollback the robust market of Chinese venture capital flowing to Silicon Valley startups.

Limiting those flows of dollars to U.S.-based companies would be a tremendous mistake. Silicon Valley is the strongest innovation region in the world, and in no small part because of the robust venture capital dollars that fund risky startups to go big. While rules should be enacted to protect American intellectual property, Silicon Valley should be left alone to handle these problems in a more market-centric way.

Unfortunately, the histrionics of DC are already pushing this reform bill too far. To see this in action, let’s look at this in-depth Politico article that has been making the rounds on Capitol Hill this week. It’s title, “How China acquires ‘the crown jewels’ of US technology” already gets at its conclusion, but it is the section on venture capital that left me stupefied. Take this quote:

One major concern among specialists like Ware is that Beijing officials could use early Chinese investments in next-generation technology to map the software the federal government and even the Defense Department may one day use — and perhaps even corrupt it in ways that would give China a window into sensitive U.S. information.

“There’s a tremendous amount of intelligence value there,” Ware said. “All governments desire to know what other governments are doing. And knowing the technologies and how they work I think is a big part of that.”

Here’s the thing — the American government buys a lot of its products right out in the open through the procurement process. It actively signals what it is looking to buy at trade shows and in keynotes to encourage industry to build products that solve its problems. There exists an entire class of DC consultant that will tell you what the government is looking to buy in one, five, and ten years down the line. None of this is secret, nor should it be.

Now, that isn’t to say there isn’t confidential information that can be exchanged during the procurement process with sensitive agencies like the Defense Department. Obviously, integrating software with their existing systems will reveal a lot about the architecture of American national security computing, and the government has an interest in preventing the spread of that information widely.

The solution in my mind is not to block the hundreds of millions of dollars of Chinese venture capital flowing into the Valley, but rather to empower national security agencies to only work with contractors with clean equity. For instance, if a Chinese investor owns 5% of a startup, then that startup could no longer be eligible for sensitive government contracts. Clear rules here empowers startup founders to decide whether the capital they take is worth the potential loss of any government contracts that they may become ineligible for. In other words, there is a clear market dynamic that allows participants to decide what the benefit of capital is compared to the risk of intellectual property theft.

The other concern from Washington is that Chinese venture capitalists will get access to technical information as part of their investment. Again from Politico:

But Bryan Ware, CEO of Haystax Technology, which works with law enforcement, defense and intelligence clients on securing their technologies, cast some doubt on the idea that the owners of tech startups would naturally refuse to share details of their technology with their investors: “If you’ve got a Chinese investor and that’s the lifeblood that’s going to allow you to get your product out the door, or allow you to hire your next developer, telling them, ‘No, you can’t do that,’ or, ‘No you shouldn’t do that,’ while you have no other alternatives for financing — that’s just the nature of the dilemma.”

Ware’s solution to the dilemma is to just block the venture capital, thereby guaranteeing that the technology wouldn’t be built. You can’t steal intellectual property that hasn’t been invented!

Having worked in venture capital for a number of years, all I can say is that I have never seen venture capital investors ask for a level of technical information on an on-going basis that would be of any use in creating a competing engineering effort. The one time that most VCs even slightly care about the technical side of these businesses is during the due diligence process, when coding libraries need to be checked for copyright and some firms do further technical due diligence on the codebase to verify a team’s competence.

The due diligence tasks can be solved through trusted third-party intermediaries, which frankly is what most firms already use for these processes (there aren’t a lot of investors who also happen to be coders anyway). Furthermore, lawyers already make it abundantly clear about what information an investor can access through an investment, and that language can be even more stringent in cases where a Chinese investor is involved.

Rather than a federal block on investment (or just the friction that an interagency process creates), let the market handle this particular problem. Let me be frank: any CEO of a startup that would give all of their technical information willy-nilly to their investors or customers — Chinese or otherwise — is so laughably incompetent about trade secrets that I can’t imagine their business surviving long-term anyway. Every startup has to make a call on when to share technical details and when not to (for instance, should you share your technical stack with a foreign corporation who wants to buy your product but needs to verify GDPR compliance?), and getting sophisticated about sharing is critical for surviving in the cutthroat Silicon Valley market.

I am focused on minority-stake venture investments in Silicon Valley with this argument. Obviously, the rules can and should be very different in takeover situations, or in bankruptcies where the acquirer will receive the complete technical details of a company. I share the concerns of many analysts around how easy it can be to learn U.S. intellectual property, and I do believe the Chinese have a robust program to exploit the American economy’s openness.

But in our rush to try to plug this flow of information, let’s not lose sight of what actions are dangerous, and which are mutually beneficial for all parties involved. Venture capital gives companies the ability to hire workers (almost always domestically) and build products that can create impactful value for the economy. Washington — as Washington does — is taking these CFIUS reforms too far, and that risks undermining the very region that is the pinnacle of innovation in the world today.


Adyen confirms an IPO in Amsterdam, valuing the payments giant at $7B-$11B

The floodgates are definitely open for IPOs in the tech world right now, and the latest is coming out of Europe. Adyen, a company that powers payments for large and smaller e-commerce merchants and others, has said that it plans to publicly list on the Euronext Amsterdam exchange, keeping the company’s financial future close to where Adyen itself was founded and is based rather than taking it to the US markets as some other European unicorns, like Spotify, have opted to do.

The news comes in the wake of reports that it was planning to announce its plans this week.

Adyen’s offering prospectus does not detail how much it plans to raise, or what sort of valuation it’s likely to reach in a public listing. It confirmed will be selling up to 15 percent of its shares, valued at a valuation of between €6 billion and €9 billion ($7 billion – $11 billion) after the IPO. We have reached out to the company for further detail on that front.

For some context, Adyen last confirmed its valuation publicly back in 2015, when it raised funding from Iconiq, the investment firm that manages funds from Mark Zuckerberg’s family and other high-net-worth tech leaders, at a $2.3 billion valuation. In other words, it’s a big jump, reflecting the company’s growth over the last couple of years.

Adyen said in the prospectus that its net revenues for the year that ended December 2017 were €218 million, up 38 percent on 2016, with total processed volumes of €108 billion in 2017 up from €66 billion in 2016, or 63 percent growth. It’s also profitable, with an EBITDA of €99 million, or a margin of 45.5 percent. Net income for Q1 was €24.1 million, up €10 million over the same period a year before.

Adyen has also clinched some key deals that point to continuing growth. Competing against the likes of Worldpay and PayPal, Adyen stole a march on the latter when it moved in to become the primary payments provider to eBay. After the former parent of PayPal spun out the company, it subsequenly put the deal out for tender and Adyen clinched it. (PayPal will still remain an option, but will not be the main provider.)

“We feel that we are still in the early stages of a remarkable journey. Our focus remains on building new functionality and on helping our merchants grow,” Pieter van der Does, the CEO and co-founder of Adyen, said in a statment. “This offering provides us with the freedom to keep building the company, while offering our shareholders a path to liquidity. Adyen will remain a company that is driven by a long-term vision and strategy.”

Other key customers include Uber (itself still growing like a weed, despite its many setbacks and divestments), Netflix, Facebook, Spotify, Etsy, Vodafone, Sephora, Tory Burch, L’Oréal and — underscoring how the company’s own growth is mirroring the increasing ubiquity and acceptance of digital payments.

The other area to watch and note with Adyen is that it’s looking to extend beyond basic payment processing technology: the company picked up a banking license at the end of last year and plans to expand in settlement services that would have previously been provided by banks. This will also help it grow its margins and overall revenues.

It will also be worth watching to see what happens next: last week, just one week after another European payments company iZettle announced its own IPO plans, it got snapped up by PayPal. I can’t help but wonder if someone is waiting in the wings again, and also what sort of a role Adyen’s bullish move played in PayPal’s own deal to secure growth.




Estonia is using its citizens’ genes to predict disease

The Estonian government announced in March that it would offer free genetic testing to 100,000 citizens as a part of its national personalized medicine program. The participants will donate blood samples to the Estonian biobank, which will conduct a genome-wide genotyping and alert those among them who are likely to suffer from conditions like cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and breast cancer. But this is only the first step of Estonia’s big push into preventive medicine. TNW spoke with Lili Milani, senior scientist at the Estonian Genome Center at the University of Tartu and a member of the national steering…

This story continues at The Next Web

Disrupt Berlin 2-for-1 passes go live next week: Sign up today

Achtung, meine Damen und Herren! Dust off your German, hop on a plane, a train or the Autobahn and join us, along with thousands of tech founders, makers, innovators, investors and early-stage startups, at Disrupt Berlin 2018 on November 29-30. Better yet, join us at our most affordable price. On May 30 at 12pm CEST / 6am EDT we’re offering a limited number of two Innovator passes for just €695Sign up for our newsletter, and we’ll send you an email letting you know when they are available for purchase. You’ll want to act quick as we are only releasing a limited quantity of these passes.

Disrupt Berlin features two program-packed days focused on the latest technology innovations, rising-star startups and world-class networking opportunities. As always, you’ll get to hear a phenomenal group of European and international speakers talking about the critical issues facing technology, venture capital strategies and what it takes to build a successful startup. We’re still finalizing the list, so if you have someone you’d like to hear speak, head on over to our Disrupt Berlin speaker nomination page.

Watch a curated cohort of pre-Series A companies compete for the $50,000 grand prize in the Startup Battlefield competition, a world-class pitch competition that’s launched over 800 companies — including Dropbox, Yammer, TripIt and Mint, to name just a few. Or don’t just watch: apply to compete. Sign up for our newsletter, and we’ll tell you when applications open.

Don’t miss out on Startup Alley, where you’ll find more than 400 early-stage startups from all around the globe showcasing a remarkable range of products, services and talent spanning the tech spectrum. It’s the energetic heart of Disrupt that generates inspiration, ideas and opportunities.

Last year more than 2,600 people passed through the Alley at Disrupt Berlin, which makes exhibiting there one of the best ways to get your early stage startup in front of potential customers and investors. You might even score media coverage from one of the many accredited media outlets or your company might be selected to be a Wildcard competitor in the Startup Battlefield competition. How cool would that be?

There’s so much more we could list, but one thing is crystal clear. Disrupt Berlin offers outstanding value. And you can double that value with two-for-one pricing on Innovator passes. Here’s what an Innovator Pass gets you:

You receive access to three Disrupt stages — The Main Stage, the Next Stage and the Q&A Stage — all of which offer distinct types of content. You receive the complete Disrupt attendee list and you can contact attendees using the Disrupt Mobile App. You can take part in interactive workshops, network your way through Startup Alley and enjoy the infamous TC After Party. But even when Disrupt Berlin ends, the value lives on. After the conference, you’ll receive access to our library of exclusive event video content.

Disrupt Berlin takes place on November 29-30 at Arena Berlin. Next week we’ll release our limited-time offer on Innovator passes: two for €695. Sign up for our newsletter today, so you don’t miss out.


Klevio launches its smart intercom and app that lets you open doors remotely

Klevio, a smart home startup out of the U.K., is officially launching its first product: a smart intercom system that lets you control your front door lock via an iOS and Android app on your phone and remotely.

Dubbed “Klevio One,” the device is designed to be retrofitted to existing electric strike-enabled locks, and also interfaces with intercom systems found on the communal doors of apartment blocks. This, say its makers, means that it is better suited to flats than smart locks already on the market.

In a call with Klevio co-founder and CEO Aleš Špetič, he explained that the approach the London-based company has taken is different to smart locks that typically use a motor to turn the lock and require tearing out and replacing your existing lock. In contrast, if you already have an electric strike as part of your lock — which a lot of apartments do — the Klevio One can simply be wired to interface with it. If you don’t, a Klevio installer can fit one to your existing lock for you.

This major upside of this approach is that Klevio isn’t re-inventing the whole wheel, but taking years old, tried and tested electric strike technology, and simply adding smart connectivity to it.

It means the Klevio One works with multiple doors and there’s no need to modify the communal area of apartment buildings when installing it, since the device is located within an individual apartment. You can also still use your old physical keys as a backup, and the company says the use of Klevio won’t be obvious to anyone outside the building.

And as you’d expect, the Klevio system is cloud-connected so that you can control your lock remotely, and issue virtual and one-time use keys. It comes in a WiFi only version, and a subscription version with added 4G.

The startup’s back story is noteworthy, too. The Klevio’s original concept and eureka moment came at Onefinestay, the ‘upscale Airbnb’ acquired by Accor in 2016. After the exit, Onefinestay co-founder Demetrios Zoppos teamed up with CubeSensors’ Aleš Špetič and Marko Mrdjenovič to start the new company, including purchasing the needed patents from Onefinestay.

In addition, Onefinestay co-founder Greg Marsh is an investor in Klevio, alongside LocalGlobe’s partner Robin Klein (who I’m told has invested in a personal capacity). To date Klevio has raised £1.2 million in funding.

Meanwhile, Špetič tells me that prior to today’s wider launch — where it can be ordered via the Klevio website — the Klevio One has been piloted with 1,000 users across London.


How to Create a Traditional Indian Kolam Pattern in Adobe Illustrator

Final product image
What You’ll Be Creating

Kolam is a form of drawing that is drawn by using rice flour/chalk/chalk powder/rock powder often using naturally/synthetically colored powders as Wikipedia says. A Kolam is a geometrical line drawing composed of curved loops, which is drawn around a grid pattern of dots. In South India it is widely practiced by female Hindu family members in front of their houses. More complex Kolams are drawn and colors are often added during holiday occasions and special events.

When I was requested to create a Kolam pattern, I thought it might be interesting to do so. And the more you search, the more interesting it becomes. So I tried to recreate the pattern drawn by rice powder by Indian women.

In this tutorial we will use the Grid and the Arc Tool. After creating the pattern, we will apply two special brushes to make it look as if the pattern was drawn using rice powder.

Let’s start!

1. How to Set Up the Grid and Create a Quarter of the Pattern

Step 1

After you opened your Adobe Illustrator, create a new document with 850 px Width and Height.

Now let’s set up some settings to make our future work easier. First, we will set up the Grid. Press Control-K and a new dialogue window will pop up. On the left side of this window, you will find the words Guides & Grid. Click on that and enter the options shown in the image below, and then press OK.

After that, you want to see the grid you just set up. Right-click your mouse and check Show Grid.

how to set up the grid

The last thing you want to do in order to make your job easier is to check Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid).

how to snap to grid

Step 2

So now we have our grid, which will help us to draw. But this grid is everywhere, even beyond the borders of the artboard. That’s why we want to set some boundaries for our future pattern.

Delete the fill color and set a black stroke color. Take the Ellipse Tool (L) and draw a tiny circle. Because you checked Snap to Grid, this ellipse will sit exactly on the intersection.

how to create the special grid for the pattern

Step 3

Keep the circle selected, and immediately press the Enter button. This action means you want to move your object. In the new dialogue window, enter the options you see below, and then press Copy.

how to create the special grid for the pattern
how to move the dot horizontally

You’ll notice that you just created a new copy of the tiny circle. Then press Control-D a few times to fill the width of your artboard. 

Step 4

Select the whole row that we previously created and press the Enter key again. Now we want to move the row vertically. Enter the options in the new dialogue window:

how to move the dot vertically

Fill your artboard vertically.

After you’ve finished creating the grid for the pattern, it’s best to create a new layer where you will actually draw the pattern, so that you don’t move the grid accidentally. Go to the Layers panel (Window > Layers) and hit the Create New Layer button. Then, lock the layer with the grid: click on the empty box on the left side and a tiny lock sign will appear there.

how the special grid for the pattern should look

Step 5

And now we can start to draw our pattern. Make sure you are on the right layer (the new one we just created). Choose any stroke color you like—it doesn’t matter because we will change it later on.

Hit the Arc Tool and draw curves following the arrows shown below. I changed the stroke color for each of the arcs for better visibility.

how  to draw the first loop of the kolam

Step 6

Continue to draw the pattern. We will need to create squares as well (use the Rectangle Tool (M) for the squares). For the straight lines you can also use the Arc Tool, because if you stretch the curve between the two dots lying on a horizontal or vertical line, it will be a straight line.

how to continue to draw the kolam

Step 7

Continue to draw the pattern, as shown below. Notice how some shapes are not connected to others.

how to continue to draw the kolam

Step 8

Now add even more detail to your pattern, by adding in more designs.

finishing drawing the kolam

Step 9

Add a few more curves and circles (which actually look like dots). Make their stroke thicker on the Stroke panel (Window > Stroke) by increasing the stroke Weight, so they will be more visible.

adding final touches to the kolam

2. How to Multiply the Quarter of the Pattern

Step 1

So now we have a quarter of the pattern. And now we are going to multiply this quarter to get the whole pattern.

First, select the quarter, and hit the Reflect Tool (O). While holding down the Alt key, click on the middle of the grid (the one we created especially for the pattern, not the one you switched to by right-clicking > Show Grid). In the new dialogue window, enter Axis Vertical, Angle 90 degrees and press Copy. Now we’ve got the first half of the pattern.

how to reflect the quarter of the pattern to have the half

Step 2

And now reflect the half vertically in order to get the whole one. Select the half of the pattern, hit the Reflect Tool (O) and click just below the half. In the new dialogue window, enter Axis Horizontal, Angle 0 degrees, and press Copy.

how to reflect the half of the pattern to have the whole one

Now you can switch off the layer with the grid by clicking the button with an eye on the Layers panel (Window > Layers) and see how your pattern looks. 

how the completed pattern should look

3. How to Create the Background and Change the Brush

Step 1

Delete the stroke color and set the fill color shown below. Hit the Rectangle Tool (M) and click on your artboard. In the new dialogue window, enter 850 px Width and Height, and press OK. This will be the background.

how to create the background

Step 2

Place the background behind the pattern (Control-X, Control-B).

Select the pattern (without the background) and change its stroke color to white. To make it look more like rice powder, let’s change the brush. Go to the Brushes panel (Window > Brushes), and on the bottom of the panel click on the Brush Libraries Menu and select Artistic > Artistic_ChalkCharcoalPencil > Charcoal – Rounded.

how to change the stroke color and brush

Here are the options for the new brush:

Charcoal - Rounded brush options window

Step 3

To make it more like actual art, we will make it a bit messier. Keep the pattern selected and go to the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance). Look at the top right corner of this panel and click on the button there. Find the words Add New Stroke, and press on it.

You just added a new stroke to the existing one, but they are still the same: both are white and use the same brush. We want to keep the same stroke color, but we want to change the brush. For the new stroke, go to the Artistic > Artistic_Ink > Galaxy. Be sure this Galaxy stroke stays behind the Charcoal – Rounded one. On the Appearance panel, you can drag it down.

how shoul Appearance panel look after applying two new brushes

This is what your pattern should look like once you have added the Galaxy stroke.

how the completed kolam pattern should look

Here is the Galaxy brush options window:

Galaxy brush options window


As you can see, you have successfully created an amazing image. It is quite amazing how Indian women can create this pattern just by using rice powder. I hope you enjoyed creating this wonderful image.

For more inspiration, feel free to check out GraphicRiver for more amazing images and more Indian patterns.

See you next time!


Source: PSD TUTS

ASK DN: Good examples of magazine-style blogs – any ideas?

Hello the DN community!

I’m doing a research on well-designed magazine-style blogs. We want to create a blog for our content-driven platform, and we’ve decided to give it a nice magazine-style touch. I’m viewing different templates, searching for inspiration all over the web. So far I came across the Etsy journal and the Dwell magazine.

Do you know of any other examples?

Please share your favourite ones that may be an inspiration. It would help me a lot with my benchmark research – I would be really grateful!

Thank you!

Review: The Lockdown brings Minority Report to your living room

Escape rooms are all the rage right now. All over the world, corporate employees are bonding over difficult puzzles. Tourists in Greece prefer breaking out of rooms in Athens over visiting the Acropolis. Even the Obama family reportedly loves to play them and busted out of a Hawaii location with only 12 seconds left. All of these escape rooms do require one essential component, though: You have to be physically present. A new AR-based app, named The Lockdown, offers the world’s first mobile escape room. In other words, you can play the game whenever, wherever, as long as you have a…

This story continues at The Next Web

9 Free Open Source Flipping Clocks Using CSS and JavaScript

The classic flip-style clock was a staple for years and it’s just one more thing the digital era made obsolete – although not quite forgotten.

We can find a bunch of cool clock designs in PSD form, but it’s more difficult to find working flip-style clocks in code. So I went on a mission to find some awesome examples online.

This gallery features 9 totally free flipping clock designs with a variety of styles and coding techniques.

Whether you want to build something like this for practice or add a working clock onto your page, these snippets are sure to help.

Flip Clock & Countdown

See the Pen Flip Clock & Countdown by Shaw (@shshaw) on CodePen.

So here’s a really interesting project that features a flipping countdown running in pure JS.

There is a bit of CSS for styling but the entire animation setup and the structure all runs on JavaScript. Even the HTML gets embedded through JavaScript.

But there’s also a lot to learn from this pen if you study the code carefully. You’ll find some great snippets to reuse and this makes a nice base for experimenting in JavaScript.

React Flip Clock

See the Pen React Flip Clock by Libor Gabrhel (@Libor_G) on CodePen.

Frontend developers love React for its power and massive community.

With it, you can build lighting-fast web applications and this clock design is just one example.

Developer Libor Gabrhel created this as a small project for testing React. It works so smoothly and the design is exquisite.

Note that while the JS is a bit complex, I also think this would make a great learning project for someone who’s just starting to learn React.

FlipDown.js Example

See the Pen FlipDown.js Example by Peter Butcher (@PButcher) on CodePen.

Developer Peter Butcher created this neat experiment using a simple custom plugin called FlipDown.js.

This runs on vanilla JavaScript – so it has no dependencies. It’s also a really easy plugin to edit, tinker with and expand with your own features.

I can’t say that this flipping animation is perfect because I did spot a few laggy jumps.

But for a really simple plugin I’m definitely impressed.

Pomodoro Timer

See the Pen Pomodoro Timer by Yoong Ti Lee (@yoongtilee) on CodePen.

There aren’t enough adjectives in the world to describe the awesomeness of this timer app.

It’s built around the Pomodoro Technique and it runs natively right in your web browser. You basically set the timer and click “start”. From there, a flipping clock animation counts down until your first break.

You can even alter the total break time and the total work session time.

Plus, the UI design is phenomenal and it’s cleverly designed to across the board.

Countdown Clock

See the Pen Countdown Clock by nir (@nirlodsn) on CodePen.

So maybe you don’t like basic JavaScript for your projects. Maybe you’re more of a jQuery person who prefers working with plugins. No problem.

Have a look at this jQuery script featuring a very basic countdown clock. I noticed the animation styles are incredibly smooth and easy on the eyes regardless of web browser.

Each flipping effect almost looks like a native 3D transform because the items that flip really feel like they’re moving. It takes some effort to get that just right.

If you want a clean, smooth clock effect for your homepage or landing page then definitely keep this snippet in mind.

Flipping Clock

See the Pen Flipping Clock by Harsha Bhat (@harshabhat86) on CodePen.

Okay, so this example doesn’t exactly fit the mold of a “flipping” clock.

But I do think that this pen looks awesome and it captures the spirit of a flipping clock animation.

Developer Harsha Bhat created this effect using Haml, Sass and some clean vanilla JavaScript.

It’s funny how all the free web frameworks in the world still can’t touch plain JavaScript.

I liken this effect to a minimalist design technique that can work with clean, simple websites. Try it out if you’re working on a project that would mesh nicely with this style.

Pure CSS

See the Pen 3D Flip Clock Counter in Pure CSS (Rebound) by Jerry Low (@jerrylow) on CodePen.

Moving away from JavaScript, you might be looking for a pure CSS3 alternative. In that case be sure to save this pen since it’s the best one I could find.

CSS3 has a long way to go in the animation department and I don’t think it’ll ever catch up to JavaScript.

But you can produce some really nice effects with pure CSS code if you know what you’re doing.

I really like this snippet as a starting point for a flipping clock. The animation doesn’t feel as 3D as you’d expect, but it does give the same illusion of natural motion – which is crucial for this kind of feature.

Lighter Design

See the Pen Flip Clock by Ed Hicks (@blucube) on CodePen.

Most of the flipping clock designs you’ll find online feature black squares with lighter text. But this design is different.

Developer Ed Hicks created this lighter flipping clock as an alternate design running on CSS and JS code. It’s actually a fairly complex project, but the JS is simplified since it runs on top of jQuery.

Anyone looking to add a lighter styled clock on their site will surely enjoy digging around in this code snippet.

Clock in Vue.js

See the Pen Flip clock & countdown, Vue by Shaw (@shshaw) on CodePen.

One thing I like about this Vue-powered clock is that all the digits are combined into single squares.

On most clocks you’ll find that the seconds and minutes all have their own blocks for each digit.

This clock looks a whole lot smoother in my opinion. Not to mention that it’s a great practice piece to study if you’re just starting to learn Vue.js.

You’ll notice that this list has a ton of variety in coding styles and many don’t even use frameworks. If you’d like to see more of what’s out there, you can find many other examples if you spend some time digging around CodePen.


Microsoft and Publicis unveil Marcel, an AI-based productivity platform for the ad giant

Microsoft under CEO Satya Nadella has refocussed to double down on enterprise, artificial intelligence and cloud services, and today the company took the wraps a new project for advertising giant Publicis that shows how it is leveraging all three to expand its business. At an event in Paris, the CEOs of the two companies unveiled Marcel, a new platform comprised of multiple apps using AI, social networking mechanics, voice recognition, predictive analytics and more aimed at getting Publicis’ 80,000 employees to be more productive and work together better.

The first three apps on Marcel — named after Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet, the founder of Publicis who had an interesting second career as a fighter in the French Resistance — will be Daily Six, Expert Match and Open Brief, with plans to add more apps over time, CEO and chairman Arthur Sadoun said in an interview this week. They’ve been trialled so far with 100 employees and will be rolling out more widely from today.

The move is an interesting turn for Publicis, currently the world’s third-largest advertising agency, to defragment and improve how its organization works.

In keeping with the norm in the ad world, Publicis has been built up by way of acquisitions, and operates essentially as a holding company for all of them to largely continue working in their silos. While that might have been a useful model when the organization was smaller, at 80,000 employees it runs the risk of being inefficient, and could easily lead to many missed business opportunities for Publicis.

Now the aim will be to try to disrupt that model with technology. “We are committing to learn more, to share more, and create more,” Sadoun said.

Or as Microsoft’s Nadella put it today at the Marcel event in more — err — flowery words, “Our job is to find rose petals in a field of shit,” he said, describing how he talks about motivating teams at Microsoft to think in a more forward way. “Our job is to find, in a constrained world, ways to make things happen. That’s what this is all about.”

For Microsoft, working on Marcel is something of a home run for the company, in that it hits all three key bases — AI, enterprise and cloud — that Microsoft has been hoping will help propel the company into the future and away from being relegated to a role as a has-been in the software world best known for Windows and Office.

Playing on the concept of ‘consumerization of IT,’ where apps and mechanics that have proven popular are used in enterprise services to get employees more engaged in them, each app in Marcel has echoes of services that you might have seen and used in the consumer world.

Daily Six presents six pieces of content to the user that is tailored to him or her. They might include key updates from a current account, suggestions for creative activities, and reading recommendations — selections that are based on what a specific employee is already working on, and what he or she might want to do next.

Expert Match, meanwhile, is a very LinkedIn-style service that helps connect employees who are looking for answers or advice on specific questions, or mentorship, with those who are willing to help out.

Lastly, Open Brief will be a way for outside clients to put out requests for input or work to the wider group, and for a small selection of people who might have skills relevant to those requests to put in offers to work on them. Both this app and Expert Match use voice and video, and are powered by Cortana to pick up cues from the requests to power the recommendations that are made.

All three are opt-in — that is, employees, in keeping with GDPR data protection principles, will have to consent to using them and having their data be a part of the Marcel mix.

Sadoun would not go into too much detail about who else might have put in requests to build Marcel — which it first said it wanted to work on a year ago, and announced in January that Microsoft had clinched the deal to build it — and nor would he be drawn out about the business model behind it. (He did concede that Google, with its extensive ad business, remains a “frenemy”, so while Publicis and Google do work together, this that might have kept it out of the running.) What he did say is that Nadella personally got involved with the pitch and lured Sadoun and his team over to Seattle to help seal the deal.

“One day I received a call from Satya saying Microsoft wanted to be a part of this,” Sadoun said. “We had a great time in Seattle. I understodod his vision of Microsoft, and saw that it was close to our vision of Marcel. That’s how we started this partnership.”

While there is not detail about the financial terms of Marcel, it’s likely that there will be several elements at play: the building the apps; moving data in and out of Azure; licensing technology to run the apps; and so on.

And as Publicis and Microsoft bring more of Microsoft’s AI smarts into the mix to help Publicis work better, it’s worth pointing out that — at least for now — the AI has a limit. I asked, and was told in no uncertain terms by Sadoun that there are no intentions of building AI products that might actually create the ads themselves.

“I think that AI will never replace emotional intelligence,” he said. “It will help us to leverage the talent in the room, tapping people who deserve to do and grow more.”