Microsoft most innovative place to work

Aug 12, 2016 0

San Francisco– Microsoft’s employees are more innovative than Apple’s, and Facebook’s staff are less creative than most tech workers, says a study led by Indian-origin entrepreneur.

The findings showed that Facebook lags behind the others in cultivating a culture of creativity. Microsoft employees are more innovative than those at Apple.

“The study data tell us that in terms of adventurousness, Microsoft employees tend to be neck-and-neck with Apple’s, and much more adventurous than Google, Facebook, or IBM employees,” Samar Birwadker, Founder and CEO of Good&CO, was quoted as saying to fastcompany.com on Friday.

Satya Nadella

Satya Nadella

As a result of being among the first social media platforms on the Internet, Facebook may be considered among the most innovative companies in the world. However, its early successes have resulted in a more conservative effort to sustain them.

“They have (Facebook) always had that reputation [of being innovative], and I think that now becomes a subconscious thing, that Facebook is innovative, but the current place they are in as a business doesn’t require them to personally be innovative,” Birwadker said.

“They (Facebook) invented social networks, and there’s always been this layer of innovation,” Birwadker explained adding, “but with more pressure on revenue, and especially on mobile and advertisements, I think we are seeing a lot less risk taking and adventurousness by their employees.”

On the other hand, Microsoft is often perceived as less innovative, because the more established tech giant has lagged behind the growth of its competitors.

Microsoft has always made a lot of money doing things the right, traditional, organised way, the study said.

“But with the success of social platforms and companies like Google Microsoft realised that they need to focus on consumer first, whereas they have always been B2B,” Birwadker stated, pointing out that with the arrival of Microsoft’s latest CEO, Satya Nadella in 2014, this wave of innovative energy started.

Samar Birwadker

Samar Birwadker

Although the giants of the technology industry have a lock on employer branding by their quirky hiring practices, free food, and other perks that make work “fun”, the analysis of the personalities of their staffs presents a different picture.

Companies like IBM, Facebook and Google aren’t necessarily providing the working atmosphere that is reflected in their recruiting materials, the study showed.

“You can’t have 10 people in a boardroom deciding what the culture of the company is. It is defined by the people who already work there,” Birwadker noted, revealing that employees who discover that their company culture is different than advertised are more likely to leave.

In the study, published by Good&Co, the team analysed the psychometric data gained from anonymous personality quizzes completed by 4,364 tech employees of what they believe are perceived as the five most innovative companies in Silicon Valley: Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and IBM.

In total, the two-year-long study also analysed 10 million responses from 2,50,000 users. Questions ranged from thoughts and feelings about networking to how they handle problems at work.

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Wipro chair Premji and HCL co-founder Nadar in the world’s top 20 tech billionaires list

Aug 11, 2016 0
Wipro Chairman Azim Premji

Wipro Chairman Azim Premji

Technology tycoons – Wipro Chairman Azim Premji and HCL co-founder Shiv Nadar – ranked in the top 20 in the Forbes list of 100 richest tech billionaires. (Photos courtesy: Forbes)

According to the “100 Richest Tech Billionaires In The World 2016” list, Premji ranked 13th with a net worth of $16 billion while Nadar was at the 17th spot with $11.6 billion of net worth.

Premji and Nadar are placed ahead of Google chief Eric Schmidt and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.

India has more tech billionaires than Brazil, Russia, Singapore and the UK. The Indian number equals tech billionaires in Israel, Taiwan and Australia.

Thirtythree are from Asia, with China on top with 19 members. The US topped the global list with 51 members, followed by China.

According to the list, 51 American tech founders and investors account for nearly two-thirds of the group’s total wealth.

The titans have, approximately, worth a combined $892 billion, 6 percent more than a year ago. The minimum net worth is now $2.2 billion, up from $2 billion a year ago, Forbes said.

With a $78 billion estimated fortune, Microsoft founder Bill Gates is again the richest billionaire in tech, followed by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos ($66.2 billion). Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is ranked third.

Compared to last year, 53 of the top 100 became richer while 27 got poorer.

Shiv Nadar

Shiv Nadar

There were 12 newcomers. The top five billionaires collectively added $36.9 billion to their fortunes over the past year, accounting for two-thirds of all gains.

Two Indian-American technology tycoons – Symphony Technology Group CEO Romesh Wadhwani and founders of IT consulting and outsourcing company Syntel Bharat Desai and his wife Neerja Sethi – secured their spot in the list. (IANS)

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Prosecutors demand prison for 83-year-old dad of Indian-American Congressman

Aug 11, 2016 0

New York– Federal prosecutors are demanding a prison sentence for 83-year-old father of the embattled Indian American Congressman, Amerish Ami Bera, in an election funding fraud case, even though other officials have recommended only probation when the court decides the penalty next Thursday.

Assistant US Attorney Philip Ferrari wrote to the Sacramento federal court in California that because of “the serious nature” of his offence,” Babulal Bera did not deserve leniency, the Sacremento Bee newspaper reported.

Ami Bera-sizedBabulal Bera admitted in May before Judge Troy L. Nunley that he was guilty of election funding fraud.

The admission – or guilty plea – avoided a lengthy trial while his son, Ami Bera, the only Indian American in US Congress, faces a tough battle to retain his seat in the House of Representatives.

Ferrari wrote that the probation officer had said that sentencing guidelines called for a prison term of between three years, 10 months and four years, nine months but recommended that he serve no time in prison and pay a fine of only $30,200. The maximum sentence for the two offences that Babulal Bera admitted to would be five years for each of them.

Both the recommendations of the probation officer were challenged by Ferrrari, who said the prosecution would agree to a prison term less than the recommended guidelines but would not spare him incarceration, the newspaper said.

When Babulal Bera pleaded guilty in May, prosecutors had said that they would request only two-and-a-half years or less in prison.

The Califnornia Democrat Congressman is running against the influential local Republican Sheriff Scott Jones. In the 2014 election he narrowly defeated his then Republican rival, Doug Ose, by just 1,455 votes, a margin of less than one percent.

Babulal Bera has admitted that that he funnelled $268,726 in illegal contributions to his son’s election campaigns in 2009 and 2011. To circumvent the legal contribution limits, he had 90 people send in the money in smaller amounts in their names and then reimbursed them for what they gave.

The other participants in the fraud have not been charged or identified by the prosecutors.

Prosecutors have cleared Ami Bera of any involvement in the fraud, which he said was carried out by his father without his knowledge. The Congressaman told the Sacramento Bee, “I wish we knew what he was doing. I wish somebody had told me, because we would have put a stop to it.”

Ami Bera’s election adversary, Jones told newspaper that he found it difficult to require an 83-year-old man go to prison but doubted he acted alone.

Jones is himself facing allegations of making unwanted sexual advances towards a subordinate, the Sacramento Bee reported. The allegation surfaced in a case filed by four women employees against his department asserting that they had faced retaliation, the newspaper said.

Jones has denied the accusations. (IANS)

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People on the Move: New bank chief, Rajamani as Research Lab MD at Microsoft, three advisors at WHA

Aug 11, 2016 0

United Bank gets new chief

Kolkata–Pawan Kumar Bajaj has taken over as Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the state-run United Bank of India, the bank said in a release on Wednesday.

Bajaj who has three decade of experience in the industry, took charge on Tuesday.

Prior to his new appointment, Bajaj was the Executive Director of Indian Overseas Bank.

Microsoft names Rajamani as India Research Lab MD

Bengaluru– Microsoft on Thursday announced the appointment of Sriram Rajamani as the new Managing Director of its India Research Lab, effective from August 1.

Rajamani will spearhead Microsoft India’s continued focus on world-class research, innovation and collaboration with the scientific community, the company said in a statement.

“I look forward to leading and expanding Microsoft’s commitment to world-class research and innovation in India and deepening our partnerships with our academic partners,” Rajamani said.

He replaces Chandu Thekkath, who previously worked as Managing Director of the lab for two years.

“Rajamani is a renowned computer scientist with a proven research and managerial track record spanning the last 17 years in Microsoft’s research organisation,” added Jeannette Wing, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Research Labs.

A distinguished researcher, Rajamani has expertise in programming language design, security and privacy, cloud security and probabilistic programming.

Prior to joining the India lab, he headed the software productivity tools group within Microsoft’s Redmond research lab.

Wholistic Health Alliance gets three advisors on board

BOSTON–The Wholistic Health Alliance, a Boston-based non-profit organization that brings traditional and complementary healthcare workers together to create healthier communities, has brought two advisors on board: Puran Dang, Sushil Bhatia and Poonam Ahluwalia, according to Pratibha Shah, an Ayurvedic expert in the New England area and the founder of the organization.

Puran Dang

Puran Dang

Dang is an entrepreneur who founded his Career Advisory and Technology/Software Consulting Services Company in 1979: Minuteman Group LLC in Lexington, MA, and has helped hundreds of immigrants and professionals in planning their careers and advance in life.

Poonam Ahluwalia

Poonam Ahluwalia

Ahluwalia is a social entrepreneur and the founder and director of Boston-based Youth Entrepreneurship and Sustainability (YES). Bhatia is an award winning entrepreneur, innovator, educator, author and founder of Laughing Clubs.

WHA also celebrated its first anniversary recently.

Sushil Bhatia-sized

Sushil Bhatia

“We are very pleased to announce the first Anniversary of the Wholistic Health Alliance (WHA)!! Within a year of incorporation, WHA has made great strides in providing a strong platform which brings together, supports and nurtures holistic practitioners while highlighting them to the community,” said WHA founder Shah.

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Intel pays $400 million to acquire start-up run by Indian-American entrepreneur

Aug 10, 2016 0

San Francisco– Announcing a big foray into the world of artificial intelligence (AI), the chip giant Intel has acquired San Diego, California-based deep learning start-up Nervana Systems run by an Indian-origin entrepreneur.

Coming ahead of the Intel Developer Forum next week, the acquisition gives Intel a definitive head start towards advanced data analytics, computer vision, natural language processing and machine learning.

Although the financial details were not disclosed, according to a Re/Code report, the software giant is paying more than $400 million to buy Nervana led by former Qualcomm researcher Naveen Rao.

“We will apply Nervana’s software expertise to further optimise the Intel Math Kernel Library and its integration into industry standard frameworks,” Diane Bryant, Executive Vice President of Data Center Group at Intel, said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Nervana’s Engine and silicon expertise will advance Intel’s AI portfolio and enhance the deep learning performance and TCO of our Intel Xeon and Intel Xeon Phi processors,” she explained.

Intel processors power nearly 97 per cent of servers deployed to support machine learning workloads today.

“Nervana’s IP and expertise in accelerating deep learning algorithms will expand Intel’s capabilities in the field of AI,” Bryant added.

The Intel Xeon processor E5 family is the most widely deployed processor for deep learning inference and the recently launched Intel Xeon Phi processor delivers the scalable performance needed for deep learning training.

“While less than 10 per cent of servers worldwide were deployed in support of machine learning last year, the capabilities and insights it enables makes machine learning the fastest growing form of AI,” the Intel executive said.

Intel’s Diane Bryant with Nervana’s co-founders Naveen Rao, Arjun Bansal, Amir Khosrowshaki and Intel vice president Jason Waxman. (Photo: Intel)

Intel’s Diane Bryant with Nervana’s co-founders Naveen Rao, Arjun Bansal, Amir Khosrowshaki and Intel vice president Jason Waxman. (Photo: Intel)

“We will continue to invest in leading edge technologies that complement and enhance Intel’s AI portfolio,” she added.

Nervana recently raised $25 million in venture funding and also has a contract to work with In-Q-tel, the US intelligence community’s venture arm.

According to Rao, the deal did not reflect any hurdles in getting more capital to stay independent.

“Raising money was not the problem. That was going to be relatively easy but by selling to Intel we have access to technology we’d never dream about,” Rao was quoted as saying.

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Prescient Bags a New Contract With Trammell Crow for a Multi-Family Housing Project

Aug 10, 2016 0

ARVADA, Colo –Prescient, a Colorado-based software design, structural system manufacturing and installation company, announced its second Denver partnership with Trammell Crow Residential  for the Alexan 20th Street Station, a 12-story multi-family residential structure which will house 354 apartments in Denver.

The structure is located at 20th Street Station on 1.14 acres at 2014 California St. in Denver.

Satyen Patel

Satyen Patel

“The Prescient system is ideal for multi-family projects up to 16 stories,”  said Satyen Patel, chairman and CEO of Prescient.  “Apartment buildings, especially in urban infill settings, are ideal for the Prescient system. We are more cost-efficient than either concrete or wood, and our ability to trim months out of typical construction schedules means minimized neighborhood disruption and a faster path to revenue for developers.”

Prescient has completed a number of multi-family apartment projects throughout the country, including Colorado, Illinois, North Carolina and Nebraska, with another 15 planned through 2018. Prescient structures consist of steel posts, trusses and panels that are custom-manufactured using Prescient’s design software then shipped for on-site assembly. The system is a viable option for multi-family housing projects because it minimizes disruption in the areas surrounding the construction zone and reduces the need for rework, helping owners meet timelines and budgets.

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With $11 Million Gift From Indian-American Physicist Mani Bhaumik, UCLA Sets Fundraising Record With $664 Million

Aug 10, 2016 0

LOS ANGELES—With a gift of $11 million from Indian-American physicist Mani Bhaumik, University of California at Los Angeles, known as UCLA, shattered its fundraising record, receiving a total of $664 million in gifts and pledges in the fiscal year that ended June 30.

In India, Bhaumik’s rags-to-riches story has inspired generations of young people. He established the Mani Bhaumik Educational Foundation to support high-achieving Indian students and donated land for the proposed Bhaumik International Center for Advanced Research at the Indian Institute of Technology.

Mani Bhaumik (Photo: Alyssa Bierce)

Mani Bhaumik (Photo: Alyssa Bierce)

“Renowned physicist Mani Bhaumik, who was born into extreme poverty in a remote village in India, came to UCLA in 1959 “with $3 in my pocket” to continue his education on a Sloan Foundation postdoctoral fellowship,” UCLA said in a statement. “ His $11 million gift to the UCLA Division of Physical Sciences — the largest gift ever made to the division — will establish the Mani L. Bhaumik Institute for Theoretical Physics.”

The $664 million total broke the previous record high of $644 million set in 2014-15. UCLA raised $557 million in 2013–14 and $507 million in 2012–13. Including a private phase that began in July 2012, the Centennial Campaign has now raised more than $2.7 billion — 65 percent of its goal of $4.2 billion. The $4.2 billion campaign is scheduled to conclude in 2019 during UCLA’s 100th anniversary year.

The $11 million gift from Bhaumik, which was first announced by the university in June this year, will establish a center devoted to advancing knowledge of the basic laws of nature. The Mani L. Bhaumik Institute for Theoretical Physics is intended to become a world-leading center for theoretical physics research and intellectual inquiry.

Faculty, postdoctoral researchers and graduate students at the Bhaumik Institute will address unanswered questions in all areas of theoretical physics.

Theoretical physicists attempt to determine the action of the laws of nature by constructing mathematical models of physical systems and solving the equations that underlie those models, sometimes aided by computers. This is in contrast to another primary branch of physics, experimental physics, in which scientists use tools and instruments to perform measurements and uncover the behavior of natural systems. At the deepest level, theoretical physicists formulate the laws that govern the world in which we live.

“I thank Mani Bhaumik for his philanthropic leadership and for believing in UCLA,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said in a statement in June.  “He shares our goal of ensuring that UCLA remains vibrant, relevant, strong and among the best in the world.”

The Bhaumik Institute will host visiting scholars, organize seminars and conferences for the academic community, and begin a public outreach program to teach the community about scientific advances made by UCLA physicists.

Bhaumik rose from poverty to become an eminent scientist who played a key role in developing the laser technology that paved the way for Lasik eye surgery. He was born in a remote village in West Bengal, India, and as a child slept on rags in the thatched-roof mud hut he shared with his parents and six siblings.

“My family didn’t always know where our next meal would come from,” he said. “I didn’t own a pair of shoes until I was 16 and walked four miles to school and back in my bare feet.”

Life was made even more precarious by the struggle for Indian independence going on around him: Bhaumik’s father, a freedom fighter, was often away and spent time in prison for his revolutionary activities. But Mani Bhaumik’s dreams of a brighter future gave him the determination to obtain a good education, and his prodigious curiosity led him to become a scientist.

Studying under renowned physicist Satyendra Bose, he earned a master’s degree at the University of Calcutta. In 1958, Bhaumik became the first student to earn a doctorate, also in physics, from the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur.

Bhaumik came to UCLA in 1959 — “with $3 in my pocket,” he said — on a Sloan Foundation postdoctoral fellowship. The people of his village raised the money for his airfare.

“I thought I’d died and gone to heaven,” he said of his arrival on campus. “Everyone was treated equally, not like back at home where the poor were treated like dirt.”

In 1961, Bhaumik joined Xerox Electro-Optical Systems as a laser scientist. He later served as director of the laser technology laboratory at Northrop’s corporate research laboratory. In 1973, he announced the conclusive demonstration of the world’s first efficient excimer laser, a form of ultraviolet laser now commonly used for high-precision machining and for cutting biological tissue cleanly without damaging surrounding tissue.

Bhaumik is a fellow of the American Physical Society and of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and, in 2011, the Indian government awarded him the prestigious Padma Shri for distinguished service in science and engineering.

As a member of the UCLA Physical Sciences board of visitors, Bhaumik has witnessed declining funding for scientific research from state and federal government, particularly in the field of theoretical physics.

“It’s very difficult to raise funds for this area, because people don’t understand what theoretical physicists do,” Bhaumik said. “But physics holds the answers to the most fundamental questions of our very existence. Imagine what could be solved right here at UCLA.”

With previous donations to UCLA, he established the Mani L. Bhaumik Presidential Chair in Theoretical Physics and supported the work of a research group led by physics professor Zvi Bern.

He also has found creative ways to spark the public’s intellectual curiosity. He is the author of two books, “Code Name God” and “The Cosmic Detective,” and the creator of an award-winning animated TV series, “Cosmic Quantum Ray.”

“We are tremendously grateful to Mani for his vision and generosity,”  said Joseph Rudnick, dean of the physical sciences division. “It is through extraordinary gifts like this that the next big leaps will be made in science.”

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US agencies, NITI Aayog sign agreement for cooperation in energy

Aug 10, 2016 0

New Delhi– In a bid to strengthen the US-India energy cooperation, USAID, the US Energy Information Administration and NITI Aayog have signed an agreement to support the design of a nodal agency for energy management data, the US Ambassador to India said on Wednesday.

In an agreement, USAID and NITI Aayog extend cooperation on the Sustainable Growth Working Group to September 2017.

With the existing strategies, the two countries will be able to make more informed policy decisions using better energy data and applying enhanced modelling to understand the key trends shaping the energy future. Again, geospatial analysis will help to determine how solar and wind resources can be applied at the best.

Richard Verma

Richard Verma

“We are pleased to sign two new agreements which expand the partnership between some of the most talented researchers in our two countries and accelerate efforts,” said Ambassador Richard R. Verma.

He was addressing the NITI Aayog Conference on Energy Data Management, Energy Modelling, and Geospatial Analysis here.

“Under this agreement, the cooperation between the Prayas Energy Group and the US Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is enhanced through direct cooperation with the US Government’s lead agency for energy information. This will strengthen how energy data is collected, managed and consumed,” he said.

According to Verma, the Working Group’s focus on energy and environmental modelling is aimed to help India’s decision-makers to understand potential flash points for water scarcity and identify opportunities to manage the growth in demand.

During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s most recent visit to the US, new initiatives were announced to raise $1.4 billion in finance for solar projects, he said.

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Japanese companies eye healthcare sector in India

Aug 10, 2016 0

New Delhi– Aiming at the huge potential that the healthcare sector in India possesses, two Japanese companies have joined hands with medical chain supplier Carna Medical to further enhance the supply of consumable and disposable products from medical suppliers across India.

During the launch of medical product catalogue, here on Wednesday, the Japanese companies — logistic provider Konoike Transport and medical equipment distributor Medius Holdings — pointed out that India is gradually becoming one of the top countries in healthcare sector and establishing itself as a hub for medical investments.

Carna“There is a vast difference in the medical field in India and Japan. India has got a huge market in healthcare sector and is rapidly growing. Our target is not just metropolitan cities but also tier-two and -three cities as well,” said Minoru Amano, CEO, Carna Medical Database to IANS during the event.

With an initial capital investment of Rs 200 million, the Japanese companies established a joint venture in India to implement Japanese technology and create and distribute medical consumable products.

 

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Hersha Acquires The Envoy Hotel in Boston Seaport for $112.5 Million

Aug 10, 2016 0

BOSTON–Hersha Hospitality Trust, owner of upscale hotels in urban gateway markets, announced the Company has acquired the fee simple 136-room Envoy Hotel in Boston for $112.5 million.

“We are very pleased to acquire the award-winning, 4-Diamond Envoy Hotel in Boston’s Seaport District. The Envoy’s premiere waterfront location at the nexus of Boston’s Financial and Seaport districts leverages corporate demand from over 48 million square feet of office space, as well as 7-day-per-week leisure demand given the hotel’s proximity to Boston’s various tourist attractions and entertainment venues,”  said  Jay H. Shah, Hersha’s Chief Executive Officer.

Envoy Hotel Boston

Envoy Hotel Boston

He said world-class companies such as GE, which ranks 8th on the Fortune 500, and Vertex Pharmaceuticals have re-located their corporate headquarters to the city’s burgeoning Innovation District, now considered Boston’s most vibrant and fastest growing submarket. In addition, the development of popular restaurants, retail and residential have created a 24/7 atmosphere.

“The Envoy will gain market share as the hotel continues to ramp following its successful debut in June 2015. In addition, we will implement a more aggressive revenue management approach and plan to re-evaluate guestroom touchpoints and service delivery, along with the hotel’s food and beverage offerings, to align the overall guest experience with the discerning business and leisure guests in this fast growing submarket,” said Shah.

The Envoy’s location straddles downtown Boston and the Seaport. The hotel is proximate to significant and diverse corporate demand in Boston’s Financial District and the flourishing Innovation District, the 516,000 square foot Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, and the U.S. Federal Courthouse, and within walking distance to Boston Common, Faneuil Hall, the North End, South Station and only 3 miles from Logan International Airport.

The Envoy, recognized by USA Today as the ‘Best New Hotel in America’, and named the ‘Best New Hotel in Boston’ by Forbes, features 136 rooms, all with floor-to-ceiling windows that showcase views of Boston Harbor, the Financial District and the North End. The Envoy is also home to the popular 6,000 square foot Lookout rooftop bar, and the 3,900 square foot Outlook restaurant and bar. The fee simple asset, acquired unencumbered of debt or management, is affiliated with Marriott’s Autograph Collection, leveraging Marriott’s powerful distribution capabilities.

The acquisition was funded with 1031 exchange proceeds from the Company’s sale of seven limited service assets in Manhattan to the Company’s joint venture with an affiliate of Cindat Capital Management Limited (“Cindat”) at a trailing full-year 5.4% economic capitalization rate. The Cindat transaction generated $177 million in taxable gains for the Company. Through a series of reverse 1031 acquisitions that included the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown, the Sanctuary Resort and the Hilton Garden Inn M Street, as well as the acquisition of the Envoy, approximately $16 million of deferred taxable gains remain from the Cindat sale.

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