Why Snap would lowball its IPO valuation

The short answer for why Snap lowballed its initial valuation for its initial public offering is that it probably won’t be that low for long.

Normally these prices are set by expectations the underwriters and executives can divine from their conversations with Wall Street. It’s essentially a matching game — how does Snap and its underwriters figure out where to price the stock in such a way that it doesn’t leave too much money on the table for those involved in the IPO, and also ensures the stock has a healthy pop on its first day trading. Price it too low, and you won’t get paid as much as you might. Too high, and it’s an optics issue and the IPO ends up looking unsuccessful.

A price range for Snap’s IPO leaked late last night, which could settle its valuation close to its previous financing round. In the scope of the financials it released (and demonstrating its very large burn rate) in its public IPO filing it would make sense to keep things conservative. But in the end this is a calculated decision to leak a lowballed number to gauge broader interest, and these numbers inevitably go up. This, for the most part, is just the way things are played on Wall Street headed into an IPO.

Some quick mechanical points: one range would value the company between $16.2 billion and $18.5 billion based on the total outstanding shares after the offering. Another calculation including options and stock conversions places the range between $19.5 billion and $22.5 billion. Either way, both of these place the company within close shooting distance to its previous valuation, with the company raising up to $3.2 billion at the higher end of the price range. Snap’s underwriters also have an option to purchase an additional 30 million shares.

A lot of people are going to draw similarities between Snap’s upcoming IPO next month and the Facebook IPO. As the last major ad-driven social IPO — and one of the biggest — Snap is going to be compared to Facebook’s business. Snap has huge costs of revenue, though its business is very young. And to make things more direct, Facebook is increasingly copying its tactics and products in order to head off Snap potentially locking in an audience that would otherwise grow into using Facebook.

(Another note from Axios’ Dan Primack: the Facebook IPO was also hit with a glitch on the Nasdaq, which could further complicate the comparison)

Snap does need a successful IPO. It does need the price to go up — people want to make money, and it doesn’t want to be seen as a failure like the Facebook IPO. That’s going to woo additional interest in the company as a long bet, with potentially a similar outcome to Facebook as it grows its otherwise young business into an advertising juggernaut with additional revenue streams beyond advertising. For now Facebook is a mainstay advertising, and while Snap is growing very quickly its young business needs to be proven as a consistent ad buy that would go next to Facebook and traditional media.

But in reality, this is not wholly about being trendy or making some kind of public statement about betting on the long term for its business. Snap made it very clear that it is playing the long game beyond just an ad-driven business. It says it’s a camera company, and it’s trying to diversify with things like Spectacles and gunning for content — and areas that it thinks Facebook just might not be able to access.

Part of the reason the Facebook IPO was so rocky was that it was also an introduction to investing for a lot of first-time investors interested in consumer tech. Facebook’s IPO in some ways on its own was unprecedented — it was one of the biggest well-known names that seemed to have a good business and good user growth going public. Things, obviously, did not go well, and the lessons have likely been learned.

Like Facebook, Snap’s IPO is unprecedented in some ways. This IPO is also for non-voting stock, which makes this a special case. It will be a completely different class of demand for the shares — when you buy in, you basically get nothing except the hope and prayer of a dividend and some long-term yield. Evan may have been strong-armed into being conservative, but because the nature of this IPO is so unusual, it would be a very bold (and borderline irresponsible) move to start at the top end under assumptions of what investors are seeking. That would be in relation to whether doing direct comparables, next year revenue projection multiples or similar effects.

Another possibility of the price being lower could be related to the risk and uncertainty associated with it being an offering of non-voting shares, and not necessarily because of actual demand for the stock. There have not been any major tech IPOs in a long time (Snap’s is the largest since Alibaba in 2014, which was an entirely different story). So there’s probably a lot of money sitting around, waiting to be allocated.

At the end of the day this is just how the game is played. Snap is going on its “road show,” where it will make its pitch to investors as to why they should buy the stock. As these meetings continue, expectations get closer and closer to reality, and Snap will continue to tweak that price range until it lands on what they think is going to yield the optimal outcome. Basically, expect this to change in the near future.

Featured Image: Michael Kovac/Getty Images

Using Microsoft Word with the MacBook Pro Touch Bar is pretty cool

I like the MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar, Apple’s baby step toward a touchscreen Mac that may never happen. It can be helpful (scrolling through a filmstrip of photo thumbnails) and fun (playing Pac-Man).

But the thin touch-sensitive screen that sits above the keyboard will remain a curiosity for most until it can partner with our most-used productivity applications, like Microsoft Office. Well, that’s happening. Microsoft released a public update to Office that includes Touch Bar support on Thursday.

For those of you unfamiliar with Microsoft’s productivity suite on macOS, it’s just as powerful and smooth as it is on Microsoft’s Windows 10. If you’ve ever used Word, Excel, PowerPoint or Outlook on Windows or even on the web via Office 365, the macOS version will be instantly familiar.

Similarly, Touch Bar integration works just as you’d expect it to across the Office suite. On the beta version of the software I tried, I didn’t have to do anything to activate Touch Bar controls. As expected, the Touch Bar’s OLED screen adapts to the the specific app, but it also varies quite a bit within application tasks.

The limited screen real estate means you won’t find all the control you gain through the ribbon on Word or Excel, but that’s kind of the point. The Touch Bar is there to surface what Microsoft assumes are your most often-used features. It’s sort of a visual manifestation of the 80/20 rule (80% of people use 20% of an app’s features).

While you use the Touch Bar, the onscreen ribbon disappears, which is fine, since the actions you need are still there, and you get an bit of screen space back. For example, as I wrote this review I considered underlining the words “which is fine” in the previous sentence. That option, along with Bold, Italic, Highlight, Bullets, Text Color and even the Clipboard are all still a touch away. Additional menu choices like Comments and adding Hyperlinks are on the Touch Bar, too, but you’ll need to slide to the left to see them — still faster than hunting it down with your trackpad or mouse. 

I’m also pleased with how the Touch Bar transforms for specific tasks and, especially, how it can take some features in new directions.

Follow: If you insert a photo in Word or PowerPoint, the Touch Bar now gives you access to a real-time rotation slider. To rotate a photo incrementally, you just slide your finger back and forth on the Touch Bar. It’s a smart feature and fun to use. 

In Excel, the Touch Bar supplies access to expected formatting options, but also extends to chart creation and editing. With the Touch Bar, I can do everything from selecting the kind of chart I want (bar, fever, area, scatter) to switching the data axes — each action takes a single tap. The Bar can handle Excel functions, too, but access to them is somewhat non-obvious. First, you need to type an equals sign in a cell, then a scrollable list of functions appears.

What the Touch Bar looks like for (top to bottom) Word for Mac, Excel for Mac (second and third), and PowerPoint (fourth, fifth and sixth) for Mac.

What the Touch Bar looks like for (top to bottom) Word for Mac, Excel for Mac (second and third), and PowerPoint (fourth, fifth and sixth) for Mac.

Image: screen captures/composite/mashable

PowerPoint may have the best Touch Bar menu. I think I could almost create an entire presentation without accessing the traditional menu. The integration includes text formatting, bullet lists, the creation of new slides and text boxes. It even offers the ability to move objects back and forth in the object stack. 

When it’s time to present, the Touch Bar shows you a presentation button. Tapping it transforms the Touch Bar into a thumbnail view of your presentation that you can slide through and tap on to bring any slide into view on the main screen. I also appreciate that Microsoft chose to add a clock on the Touch Bar so you can keep track of how long you’ve been presenting.

I would like to see Microsoft add access to presenter notes on the Touch Bar.

There are other limits, possibly imposed by Apple, on what Office for Mac can do with the Touch Bar. I was, for instance, surprised to see that when I tapped the insert image icon that, instead of seeing a film strip of image thumbnails on the bar, it just launched an on-screen dialogue box where I could access my image files.

Maybe future versions of the Office will let you customize your Touch Bar experience.

Word for the Mac’s Touch Bar also lacks QuickType word suggestions (oddly, Outlook for Mac has them). And despite Microsoft’s efforts to surface my most-used features, it did miss a big one: The ability to convert ALL CAPS TYPING to lower case, upper and lower, or sentence case. This is something I really, really need. 

You cannot currently change any of the Touch Bar menus. Maybe future versions of the Office will let you customize your Touch Bar experience.

To get the most out of this Office for Mac Touch Bar support, you must use it, consistently, which, for many, will be the biggest hurdle. I still find myself forgetting that the Touch Bar is there, mostly because I stare at the screen when I type. Perhaps if I use the MacBook Pro more often, tapping on the Touch Bar will become second nature. If that does happen I could see Touch Bar saving me some serious time in the Office for Mac suite.

OxSight uses augmented reality to aid the visually impaired

One percent of the world’s population, approximately 70 million people, are blind.

That is not a huge number when you think of it in terms of a potential use base for a consumer product, but it is massive when you consider that there are currently few assistive technologies available as an aid to make easier the lives of the visually impaired.

A new startup that spun out of Oxford last year, OxSight, is looking to change that. The company built and is testing augmented reality glasses to help the visually impaired recognize and navigate objects in their environment. Think of it as a hearing aid for the blind.

OxSight is a potential replacement for canes and seeing-eye dogs. Those give you immediate localization of obstacles near you, but don’t give you a sense of awareness of the environment that you are in.

OxSight is a potential replacement for canes and seeing-eye dogs.

Most of the people who have tested the OxSight previously had some level of sight that has degraded over time. The product uses the sight they still have, whether it’s detection of light, movement or a small amount of shape, and amplifies it inside a pair of augmented reality glasses.

Nothing is hooked into the brain and the hardware doesn’t interact with the eyeball. Instead, the OxSight smart glasses rely on technologies like see-through displays, camera systems and computer vision techniques that have been developed for augmented reality to understand the environment.

OxSight layers different Prisma-esc modes and that can be adjusted using hand controls.

OxSight layers different Prisma-esque modes that can be adjusted using hand controls.

“Once you start to lose your sight, it really becomes difficult to differentiate between say a foreground object and a background one,” says founder Dr. Stephen Hicks, a neuroscientist specializing in physical control. “They kind of blur together. But with our project, what we can do is identify a certain class of object and make them stand out. So it enables them to be more intuitive and more interactive in the way they deal with the world and really make use of that small amount of sight that most people who are blind still have.”

The brain processes three-dimensional space similar to how modern gaming cameras map and define the difference between the floor, a couch and a wall, for example. They identify the larger objects and figures out the relation between them and the user. Using this concept of mapping and how the brain already works, OxSight adds cartoon-like layers to the user’s surroundings.

For people with minimal vision, the software can project a cardboard cutout of what a person looks like. Users who are blind but still have limited vision can customize their experience by boosting colors or zooming in or out. Because each person who is considered blind is affected differently, OxSight built a product that can be adjusted and customized to allow each unique user to understand where they are and what is around them.

Hivy is an office management service to manage all those startup perks

Have you ever wondered why the snack bowls on the second floor of your fancy startup office never runs out of snacks? Your office manager is most likely in charge of all of this, and sometimes it can be hard for them to keep track of all requests and make sure everything is running smoothly. Hivy plans to be the only service office managers ever need. The company is participating in Y Combinator’s current batch.

While the startup is still quite young, companies like Slack, Deliveroo, SeatGeek or Typeform are already using it to manage all their perks. Hivy was first created by the startup studio eFounders.

“We are building a platform for office managers,” co-founder and CEO Pauline Tordeur told me. “On this platform, we’ll handle employee requests, finding a new supplier, buying stuff on Amazon and more. We’re already taking care of the task management part quite well and we’re now building the service part with a marketplace.”

Eventually, Hivy wants you to be able to find all the answers you need as an office manager, with other office managers recommending services that they use so you can quickly make a decision for an event or a long-term change.

Let’s say all your employees can purchase a computer, a monitor and peripheral devices. Hivy lets you build a catalog of devices so your employees can simply pick what they want from this catalog.

Similarly, if you’re out of fruits, employees can notify their office manager on Hivy. Hivy also integrates directly with Amazon so you can order a product without having to leave Hivy.

And if your request is a bit more complicated or you need to talk about it with your office manager, you can simply start a conversation and get notified on the next steps.

You can interact with Hivy in many different ways. For instance, you can leave an iPad in the kitchen and your employees can order food from the tablet. “The iPad app is cool because it creates a physical presence for Hivy in startup offices,” co-founder Simon-Pierre Behr told me.

You also can use your iPhone, computer or even Slack. And I feel like that’s the reason why Slack got addicted to the product. You can send requests to your office manager using the Hivy bot in Slack. It’s quite convenient that you don’t have to leave Slack for this kind of stuff.


If you work in a tiny startup, you probably don’t need something like Hivy. But as your team grows, you’ll need a tool to manage all these vendors and this big budget. Many Silicon Valley startups end up spending thousands of dollars every year for each employee. Having a tool to keep track of all that can help you save money, increase employee retention and more.

Hivy is a software-as-a-service product with a monthly subscription. The startup is still experimenting with its pricing strategy, but it won’t cost too much to run Hivy.

The end goal is much bigger. With the Hivy Club, the startup will list all sorts of vendors directly on the platform. “The idea is that we’ll have one to three suppliers for each category with reviews from other office managers,” Tordeur said.

Think about it as a curated platform with a nice quote from Slack’s office manager saying why they like this caterer or that cleaning company. And, of course, Hivy will take a cut of all these transactions. This could end up generating a lot of revenue.

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Boston’s new hub, MassRobotics, is like a WeWork for robotics startups

If you’re building drones, personal delivery vehicles or robots that can perform surgery, a desk in a coworking community like WeWork or RocketSpace probably won’t be enough for you. Now, the city of Boston has opened a new facility just for robotics startups. The nonprofit hub, MassRobotics, is located at 12 Channel Street in Boston’s Seaport Innovation District.

According to a press statement, MassRobotics’ facility includes labs and expensive equipment that startups need for testing and prototyping, like industrial-grade oscilloscopes, 3D printers, aeroelectronics and an enclosure for indoor drone testing. MassRobotics is leasing 15,000 square feet and will build out another 25,000 square feet in the building. An official ribbon-cutting ceremony is to be held tomorrow, February 17th, with Boston’s Mayor Marty Walsh.

According to MassRobotics hub co-founder Joyce Sidopoulos, MassRobotics isn’t just about providing an innovation space for robotics companies, as important as that is. The initiative is aligned with other local efforts by Mass Technology Leadership Council, a partner to MassRobotics, aimed at keeping tech talent in town, creating jobs or taking jobs at major employers, locally. Mass TLC has won a number of economic development and related grants to help ensure that New England remains a regional leader in the burgeoning robotics industry.

Artist's rendering: MassRobotics, a coworking space exclusively for robotics startups in Boston.

Artist’s rendering: MassRobotics, a coworking space exclusively for robotics startups in Boston.

Employers in the field of robotics with a significant presence in the greater Boston area range from large companies like General Dynamics, Draper and Amazon Robotics, to a huge number of startups like Locus RoboticsSoft Robotics and Rise Robotics. Initial residents at MassRobotics “alpha” space include agriculture-focused American Robotics, urban mobility startup Hurdler Motors, the Air Force Research Lab HMSS and the makers of robots used for inspections in the oil and gas industry, Square Robots.

Besides providing innovation space, MassRobotics and their partners MassTLC are connecting early-stage companies with potential pilot customers, helping them find nearby sites where they can fly, float or otherwise test their robots, and providing workforce training to people who want to get jobs in advanced manufacturing.

“It’s true that you can’t just work on a laptop in this field. You need space to build, learn, rearrange chips on a board, put it back in, run tests… But this innovation hub will also bring startups together, where hopefully everyone can help each other out. We’re already seeing senior companies offer to mentor newcomers in the field, and we have heard from a list of robotics companies a mile long who want to move in,” Sidopoulos said.

Update: This post was edited to specify that MassTLC and MassRobotics are operated separately.

Featured Image: massrobotics.org

Maximize your workouts with the Wahoo Tickr X Heart Rate Monitor ($20 off)

Sometimes the best workout trackers are not the ones you wear on your wrist. Others that attach to other places in your body can get better readings, especially when it comes to measuring heart rate, which gives you more accurate data and better insights into your workouts. The best of these non-wrist wearables that are smartly designed, will be compatible with your favorite fitness apps, such as the Wahoo Tickr X Heart Rate Monitor and Workout Tracker, currently discounted by 20 percent and available for $80 on Amazon.

More: The Best Fitness Trackers You Can Buy

Wahoo TICKR X Heart Rate Monitor and Workout Tracker 4The Wahoo Tickr X captures both motion and intensity to ensure you get the most effective workouts. With the companion Wahoo Run/Fit App, the workout wearable measures heart rate, training zones, calorie burn, running form metrics, and indoor run and spin cadence. Especially useful for runners, it tracks various other indicators of running form like vertical oscillation, cadence, and ground contact time. Additionally, the treadmill mode tracks distance and speed when you’re running indoors. To save you time, you can pair the TICKR X with the Wahoo Seven Minute Workout App and get a high-intensity circuit workout, with automatic rep counting, and personal record tracking.

Wahoo TICKR X Heart Rate Monitor and Workout Tracker 2Complete with built-in memory, the wearable allows you the freedom to train without a phone. The device will still capture valuable performance metrics and then syncs them to your phone later. The most advanced model in the line of Wahoo Tickr devices, the activity tracker can deliver vibrational alerts and is both sweat and waterproof.

Best of all, the fitness tracker is compatible with third-party apps and other devices. The Wahoo Tickr Xis both iOS and Android compatible and works flawlessly with more than 50 Smartphone Apps including Nike+ Running, MapMyFitness, Runkeeper, Strava, Apple Health, and Cyclemeter/Runmeter. With both ANT+ and Bluetooth 4.0 capabilities the tracker easily connects to GPS watches (including Apple Watches), iPhone 4S and later models, and Android devices with Android 4.3 or newer operating systems.

The Wahoo Tickr X Heart Rate Monitor and Workout Tracker normally retails for $100 but is currently marked down to $80 on Amazon, giving you a $20 or 20 percent discount.

$80 on Amazon

Twitter starts putting abusers in “time out”

Twitter is putting online bullies in “time out.” As one of the company’s many new anti-abuse measures, users whose accounts have been identified engaging in abusive behavior will have the reach of their tweets temporarily restricted. During this time, the abuser’s tweets will only be shown to their followers, Twitter says.

The change was spotted by BuzzFeed, following a series of tweets from those being impacted by the new policy. Those whose accounts were flagged posted screenshots of the emails they received from Twitter, which all included the same language.

These emails began by explaining that “creating a safer environment for people to freely express themselves is critical to the Twitter community,” then said why the users were being restricted and for how long.

Of course, a “safer environment” has not always been a focus for the company. Twitter failed miserably over the years to protect its user base from the harassment and bullying that comes hand-in-hand with a network where anonymity is provided, and abuse goes unpunished. There has been nothing to prevent an individual from continually re-creating accounts after being banned, or even setting up multiple accounts in order to harass others.

While Twitter had rolled out various anti-abuse features over the years, the company had generally focused on things like being able to block and report accounts, or putting together a “safety council” to discuss the matter.

But in recent days, Twitter has begun to act as if it would take the problem more seriously.

Earlier this month the company announced it would make a number of changes to silence online abuse, including putting a stop to the creation of new, abusive accounts, offering safer search results, and collapsing abusive or low-quality tweets.

This new “time out” is most similar to the latter action item, which would see Twitter hiding tweets that were unhelpful or offensive from conversation threads. But instead of just hiding abusive tweets (with an option to click to see them if you wanted), Twitter is also now actively stopping abusers from being able to spread their content more publicly.

Twitter had implied it would roll out more anti-abuse measures to coincide with those it unveiled at the beginning of the month, but this particular “time out” feature was not formally announced.

The company also hasn’t officially explained how it’s determining which accounts need to be silenced in this fashion, but we understand the company is using a combination of factors, including both the account’s behavior and the context of that behavior.

For example, if an account was constantly tweeting abusive language at another account that didn’t follow them, that would be a clear indication that it was engaged in online bullying.

Those who have been flagged seem baffled that their free speech now has consequences.

Huh, just like in the real world.

Others impacted are suggesting it’s time to leave Twitter’s public square and go hide out in a different corner of the web instead. That is, they’re instructing others to join Gab, the network Breitbart called a “free speech alternative to Twitter.” 

This is a familiar response to perceived censorship – aka community safeguards – on online platforms. For example, Voat popped up a couple of years ago, offering a haven for those fleeing Reddit bans and anti-harassment policies, making much of the same promises that Gab does today.

But even when a community kicks out the bad actors, it doesn’t always spell doom. Voat never even neared Reddit’s numbers, as it turned out:


For Twitter, making its network safer could even bring in new users, given that many have held off because of the network’s reputation as a home for online abuse.

With $3.6M in fresh funding, YotaScale optimizes cloud computing for enterprises

YotaScale, a graduate of Alchemist’s enterprise accelerator, is announcing a $3.6 million venture round today from Engineering Capital, Pelion Ventures and angels Jocelyn Goldfein, Timothy Chou and Robert Dykes. The startup employs machine learning to help balance performance, availability and cost for enterprise cloud computing. Competitors CloudHealth Technologies and Cloudability have raised a combined $80 million in the hot space.

Cloud computing has rapidly become integral to businesses in just about every industry. But the quick pace of innovation has made it hard to monitor ever-evolving cloud infrastructure. Rather than dump the responsibility on humans, YotaScale is automating performance management itself.

The company combs over a myriad cloud data to ensure that a company’s infrastructure is optimized for its overarching business priorities. These priorities can be really simple, like minimizing cost, or they can be highly complex, involving multiple projects with different end-goals.

“Anybody can do the simple stuff and tell you your machine is running low on utilization and you should shut it down,” explains Asim Razzaq, CEO of YotaScale.

Razzaq’s system is able to combine usage data with billing and log data. This information serves as the underpinnings for anomaly detection against a baseline. Though it might not sound like a lot of data, it’s enough to extrapolate out things like resource consumption and CPU utilization.

But the tricky part of anomaly detection is defining normal, because normalcy is highly contextual. A spike in use might not be an anomaly at all for an e-commerce company on Black Friday. To this point, YotaScale isn’t just concerned with historical data, it actually makes forward projections. This makes it possible to contextualize data fluctuations. Instead of flagging every single change, the system compares expected performance against actual performance.

Different types of cloud infrastructure data are created in different time intervals; some hourly, others daily, etc. The challenge becomes optimizing across that differentiation. Ensemble machine learning techniques are used to improve the accuracy of analysis and to manage the many dimensions of captured data. Regression models serve as the foundation, with other semi-supervised models coming in for specific uses.

Using YotaScale, enterprises like Apigee and Zenefits can ideally rely on machines to manage their cloud computing needs, taking a load off cloud and DevOps teams. Not to mention, machines have a pretty strong compute advantage when it comes to real-time analysis.

Featured Image: shopplaywood/Getty Images

This must be the year of mobile security

If I gave you my phone right you’d be able to figure out a lot of stuff about me. If I didn’t unlock it you’d see some of the news I read, the apps I use, and even some of the messages I’ve gotten from my friends. You’d be able to see that my friend Rick just wrote “If she gets desperate enough, let me know?” which, if taken out of context, is pretty weird (it’s not. He’s talking about voiceover work.) You’d know I read Medium, that I bank at Chase, and that something is coming up on my calendar but you won’t know what it is unless you speak Russian. In short, those little glass slabs in our pockets are a wellspring of information, even at rest and locked. Then, if I type in my passcode (which is quite simple), you’d know all about me.

This is the year of mobile security and I’d like to see what the companies exhibiting at MWC are going to do to protect us at borders, on the street, and at home. While IoT is expanding the reach of our mobile devices by embedding voice controls into our door locks and always-on TV surveillance it is, at the same time, the weakest link in our security.

I’ve tried plenty of security solutions but I don’t have the time or impetus to lock down every app. I had a Blackphone – it didn’t work most of the time – and I’ve turned on two-factor and encryption wherever I can. But most of those apps secure me between my fingertips and the cloud. It has no bearing on the data stored on the phone. What happens if my phone is lost or stolen? What happens if it’s compromised? The data on my phone, unprotected, is very telling and very valuable if I’m in the wrong place at the wrong time doing the right (or wrong) thing.

Forget law enforcement trying to crack iPhone passwords of hardened criminals. I suspect we’ll enter an era when law enforcement is encouraged to read our Tweets and private Facebook messages. Our secure devices will become open books at borders and, someday soon, a major political figure will find his or her phone opened up and dumped to Wikileaks. It’s inevitable.

In short, the current passcode/biometric methods are strong but why can’t we use advanced factors for that extra edge of security? Not all of us want this level of lockdown, mind you, but I would argue that all of us need it. In the end the glowing glass slabs in our pockets are the closest we have to a visual and informational representation of our personalities, our deepest secrets, and our identities. We wouldn’t shout our credit card number in a crowded room. Why would we carry our phones across a border?

I’d like to see a few things. First, I’d like a cheap, simple phone that is designed to allow me to keep in touch securely but holds none of my data. This is a simple ask and a quick eBay search brings up plenty of candidates. But it’s a marketing job to convince us all that we need these.

Second I’d like to see a more secure biometric solution and granular levels of encryption. New technologies do allow for further parameters to be gathered from our bodies and personal preferences. The way we type or move with the phone can identify us more readily than a password and iris scanners, which are apparently making their way to phones soon, will further protect us. But why can’t I have an “dump” password that lets me blow up certain data when I’m under duress? Why can my passcode show all the data on my phone when, perhaps, I want to show a certain amount with a key code and even more with a biometric scan?

Again, these are not things we think we want but these are technologies we all need and deserve. And security options never work. This technology must be built-in and immutable except in low-end burner phones. I want the open book of my life – my iPhone or Android device- to be completely closed unless I give my explicit permission.

In a world full of danger – perceived and real – any tool to stem the onslaught of surveillance is welcome. We have to ask for it and manufacturers have to give it to us. Otherwise all of us have lost.

Featured Image: Bryce Durbin