Inside the offices—and servers—of the video streaming empire:
"On a normal weeknight, Netflix accounts for almost a third of all Internet traffic entering North American homes. That’s more than YouTube, Hulu, Amazon.com, HBO Go, iTunes, and BitTorrent combined. Traffic to Netflix usually peaks at around 10 p.m. in each time zone, at which point a chart of Internet consumption looks like a python that swallowed a cow. By midnight Pacific time, streaming volume falls off dramatically."
PUBLISHED: May 9, 2013
LENGTH: 15 minutes (3782 words)
A visit to Iceland and CCP Games, the company behind the sci-fi video game Eve Online. The game has grown to 500,000 users and $65 million in revenue:
"Economists have written dozens of papers celebrating the sophistication of Eve’s economy and the amazing level of industry among the players, who basically create everything within the game from scratch. 'It feels like a real economy instead of one rigged by a gaming company,' says Vili Lehdonvirta, a researcher at the London School of Economics who’s studied virtual games since 2004. 'Since there’s no legal system, the economy resembles that of a developing nation where people trade based on trust and social relations.'
"The thought of Eve advancing economic teaching provides some measure of comfort for Icelanders who’ve grown to detest the presumed economic whizzes in the real world. Just down the road from the CCP headquarters, the Harpa, a giant glass opera house, glows in different colors at night. It symbolized Iceland’s banking boom. Now it may have to be torn down, because it’s too expensive for the country to maintain. CCP held its most recent Christmas party there."
PUBLISHED: April 19, 2013
LENGTH: 11 minutes (2872 words)
A man with a doctorate in nuclear fusion physics builds a compound on 30 acres near Maysville, Mo. in an attempt to create a self-sufficient community where people can grow their own food and build their own tools:
"For a few years, Jakubowski lived mostly alone. First, he built the hut. That backbreaking work persuaded him to build a brick press. Next, he constructed a workshop to make more tools, including the tractor. He posted videos on the Web and gained a following of DIYers. Now and again, a couple people would show up during the summer to help out, and they made huts alongside Jakubowski’s. That changed in early 2011, when he was invited to give a lecture at a TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conference.
"In his TED Talk, Jakubowski took the stage in a khaki Mao suit and explained how he planted 100 trees in one day, pressed 500 bricks “from the dirt beneath my feet,” also in one day, and built a tractor in six. 'If we can lower the barriers to farming, building, manufacturing,' he said calmly, 'then we can unleash just massive amounts of human potential.' The goal, he said, is to create on one freely downloadable DVD a 'civilization starter kit.' He ended the talk and received TED’s customary rapturous applause.
"Since Jakubowski’s TED Talk was posted to YouTube in April 2011, it’s been viewed by more than 1 million people, around 500 of whom agreed to donate $10 or so a month to 'subscribe' to the farm. The foundation of Mark Shuttleworth, a billionaire South African technology entrepreneur, gave Jakubowski $360,000 to pursue the work. The TED video even inspired a handful of hardy idealists to make a pilgrimage to Missouri and help out on the Factor e Farm. Then a few more showed up, some staying a week or two, some for months. By August 2012, there were 14 to 20 people staying on the farm at any one time, though it looked less like a farm than an unhygienic encampment for overeducated misfits."
PUBLISHED: Nov. 2, 2012
LENGTH: 10 minutes (2562 words)
Depending where you fall on the spectrum between civil liberties absolutism and homeland security lockdown, Palantir’s technology is either creepy or heroic. Judging by the company’s growth, opinion in Washington and elsewhere has veered toward the latter. Palantir has built a customer list that includes the U.S. Defense Dept., CIA, FBI, Army, Marines, Air Force, the police departments of New York and Los Angeles, and a growing number of financial institutions trying to detect bank fraud. These deals have turned the company into one of the quietest success stories in Silicon Valley—it’s on track to hit $250 million in sales this year—and a candidate for an initial public offering. Palantir has been used to find suspects in a case involving the murder of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent, and to uncover bombing networks in Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. “It’s like plugging into the Matrix,” says a Special Forces member stationed in Afghanistan who requested anonymity out of security concerns. “The first time I saw it, I was like, ‘Holy crap. Holy crap. Holy crap.’”
PUBLISHED: Nov. 22, 2011
LENGTH: 15 minutes (3912 words)
For all its recent success, Huawei’s accession to the global scene has been awkward. Its corporate culture tends to come off somewhere between xenophobic and absurd to local critics. Sample headline published last year in the Times of India: “Huawei Technologies Bans Indians in India.” (Huawei says there’s no discrimination at its Indian facilities.) More pressing, though, is the reputational baggage tied to the company’s founder. Pundits wonder whether China’s premier technology company, a privately held organization run by an ex-deputy director of the army’s engineering corps and former delegate to the Communist Party’s national congress, can overcome suspicions among politicians, security officials, and would-be customers outside China. “Huawei is a large company with state-owned interests involved, and also Chinese military linkages,” says Srikanth Kondapalli, a professor at the Center for East Asian Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. “So one of the concerns is what these guys are up to.”
PUBLISHED: Sept. 17, 2011
LENGTH: 13 minutes (3324 words)
After a couple years at Facebook, Jeff Hammerbacher grew restless. He figured that much of the groundbreaking computer science had been done. Something else gnawed at him. Hammerbacher looked around Silicon Valley at companies like his own, Google, and Twitter, and saw his peers wasting their talents. "The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads," he says. "That sucks."
PUBLISHED: April 15, 2011
LENGTH: 11 minutes (2966 words)