Elon Musk On Zip2, PayPal, Tesla, and Artificial Intelligence

That is Elon Musk in a 1999 documentary. He had just sold his first company Zip2.com for a little over $300 million, and was working on his second company called X.com which later on became PayPal when they acquired Confinity.  Did you notice the last sentence he said in that video? He’d be happy if he made it to the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. Fast forward to 2015 and Musk has made it to the cover of many magazines, but am not sure if he made it to the Rolling Stone though.

Musk is a man on a mission, who is pushing the boundaries on space, sustainable energy and automobiles. He is the CEO and  Chief Product Officer at Tesla Motors,  CEO and CTO of SpaceX and chairman of Solar City.

Earlier this month Musk did an interview with  Neil DeGrasse Tyson about Future of Humanity. “He is making the (future),” and is the “real Tony Stark,” says Tyson. This is a useful and interesting interview since Musk talks about growing up in South Africa and his love for comic books and video games and how he went “OCD” learning to program when he was all of 9 or 10 years old. When Musk came to America he learnt to live on a dollar a day eating hot dogs and oranges. And why did he do that? It helped him realize that he could basically live on $30 a month to take care of his basic needs.  And if you have read other interviews about Musk you know that he did end up living that way and built his first company that he ended up selling successfully.

In the interview Musk talks about energy, transportation, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) and he talks about why he is worried about “Super Intelligence” and says we “should exercise caution.”

You can listen to the interview of Musk with De Grasse here. And here is another interview of Musk, where he answers questions, and this one is worth watching.

 

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Video: Vijaylakshmi Pandit, The First Woman As President of UN General Assembly

“I have been working with men for a long time,” responds Vijalakshmi Pandit in response to a question if men had modulated their language at the UN after she became the President of the United General Assembly in 1953.

This TV interview offers a fascinating portrait of Pandit, who was the sister of Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister. She joined politics in the 1930s and eventually became a diplomat. She was India’s ambassador to the Soviet Union (1947-49) and the United States (1949-52).

Film Notes: Roger Ebert’s “Life Itself”

I finally saw “Life Itself,” a documentary about Roger Ebert, a well-known film critic with Chicago Sun-Times. The film is a warm portrait of Ebert and at times it is difficult to watch the film as we see him valiantly beat his cancer. The only reason I did not bail out was because of  Ebert’s happy and determined attitude that was infectious. It floored and inspired me to see Ebert’s happy smile and enjoy his great passion in life – watching films. How did he achieve that state of mind and that determination was the central question on my mind as I watched this film. I never did get a complete answer and can only wager he was born with a sunny disposition and that determined attitude.

The film traces Ebert’s life from his childhood in Urbana, Illinois to his life as a film critic and his last days surrounded by his wife Chaz Ebert and his family. It is based on Ebert’s autobiography by the same name.

The film is a wonderful homage to Ebert and we get to the film critic with warts and all. We find out how he got to meet Chaz, his great love at an Alcoholic Anonymous meeting, and the somewhat difficult relationship with Gene Siskel, his fellow film critic. His friends and associates share personal stories about his love for films, writing, food and hanging out with friends at bar.

Ebert hung out with filmmakers and had great relationships with many of them. Ebert’s reviews of new films helped the career of many emerging and well-known filmmakers. Martin Scorsese shares how during one of the lowest points in his life, Ebert  recognition of his work gave him a second chance in his life. But that same Ebert, who loved Scorsee’s earlier films went on to criticize one of his later film “The Color of Money.” That is Ebert for you.

The film also traces the bristly chemistry between Siskel and Ebert, whose weekly TV show called Siskel & Ebert was a must-watch for all film lovers. They sorted out their differences by tossing a coin and that is how the name of the show was also selected. Siskel won the toss much to Ebert’s chagrin as we find out in the film.Siskel was an elegant man with a quiet voice and calm demeanor, while Ebert was the voluble one. But when they spoke about films their passion shone through and they did not pull any punches on why they loved or did not love a film.

Ebert loved films and went to great lengths to make sure that he shared his love for films through his newspaper columns, TV show, his blog and tweets. Yes, he was prolific on social media and sent tweets from his hospital bedside on a regular basis. If you love films then “Life Itself” is a film worth watching.

“Life Itself” is available on Netflix. It is directed by Steve James.

 

The Verdict Is In For Ellen Pao Vs. Kleiner Perkins

The verdict is in for the high profile legal case between Ellen Pao vs. Kleiner Caufield Perkins and Byers (KCPB), the famous Silicon Valley venture capital firm. Pao lost the historic gender discrimination case against KCPB that was keenly followed by folks in Silicon Valley and around the world.

Pao was a partner at Kleiner Perkins. She sued the VC firm for $16 million in lost wages because of her gender. Pao lost the case on all 4 counts against the VC firm. The jury did not find that Pao was discriminated on the basis of gender.

Right after the verdict was announced Pao made a brief statement:

If I’ve helped to level the playing field for women and minorities in venture capital, then the battle was worth it,” Pao said. “Now it’s time for me to get back to my career, my family and my friends.

What message does this verdict send to people, especially women? Sue Decker, former CEO of Yahoo wrote this about the verdict in Re/Code and said,

Regardless of how the verdict comes out, I think it will have the impact of a wake-up call for all of us fish. For a moment over the last month, we jumped out of our water and thought very critically about the environment within which we swim. More and more women and men are starting to “lean in” and take responsibility for changing the waters.

This is what the Los Angeles Times wrote in its editorial piece earlier this afternoon:

But despite the firm’s victory in Pao’s lawsuit, the testimony about it may persuade more women to steer clear of the venture capital fraternity. 

You can read more about the verdict here, here and here.

 

The Kamla Show Highlights: San Jose Museum of Art, Tiya Sircar and Kosha Patel Postdate: Photography and Inherited History in India

Art and films – that is what we are talking about with our guests in our upcoming interviews. Sherill Ingalls of San Jose Museum of Art talks about their current exhibit “Postdate: Photography and Inherited History in India” that features 9 contemporary artists from India.

Actors Tiya Sircar and Kosha Patel talk about their new film “Miss India America,” and how they got started as actors. Both are based in Los Angeles now.

Podcast: Slumdog Millionaire’s Danny Boyle Directing Steve Jobs Biopic in SF Bay Area

Danny Boyle, Michael Fassbinder and Seth Rogen

Danny Boyle, Michael Fassbinder and Seth Rogen

Academy Award winner Danny Boyle of “Slumdog Millionaire,” is busy directing his latest movie in San Francisco bay area. And the new biopic is about Silicon Valley icon Steve Jobs.

The shooting of the film started in the beginning of the year. The cast and crew has spent time filming in San Francisco and in locations around South bay. The crew spent time in February shooting in and around De Anza College in Cupertino. Jobs’ mother and sister worked at De Anza College at one time if I recollect correctly.

Last year Universal Pictures announced it was producing the film after Sony Pictures withdrew from the project. The film is  based on Walter Isaacson’s book and Aaron Sorkin wrote the screenplay. Michael Fassbender plays Steve Jobs and Seth Rogen the part of Steve Wozniak. The cast includes Kate Winslet, Katherine Waterston, and Jeff Daniels among others.

You can check out the official Facebook page of the Steve Jobs film for updates and photos. The film is expected to release on October 9, 2015.

Boyle’s last film was “Slumdog Millionaire,” which won a string of Academy Awards. I got an opportunity to interview Boyle on the eve of the Oscar ceremony, where we spoke about the making of “Slumdog Millionaire,” and the influence of his mother.

LISTEN: Danny Boyle on “Slumdog Millionaire”

Photo credit: Steve Jobs Facebook page.

 

 

 

Ruth Porat is Google’s New CFO

Google

Google

Google announced today that it is getting a new Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Ruth Porat is headed to California to become Google’s CFO. She was CFO at Morgan Stanley.

Porat grew up in Cambridge, MA and Silicon Valley. She studied at Stanford before heading out to study in London and Wharton. She joined Morgan Stanley in 1987 and has worked at the firm for most of the time save for a short stint at Smith Barney.

Porat has maintained her ties to the bay area and Stanford. She is Vice Chair of the Stanford University Board of Trustees. Porat’s father worked at Stanford’s  SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory for 26 years and retired in 1988. Her mother worked as a psychologist.

Earlier this month Patrick Pichette announced that he was retiring as Google’s CFO and wrote a letter about why he arrived at the decision. And Pichette’s departure is a big deal points out Re/Code. He joined Google in 2008.

In an interview with Politico last year she talked about her journey in Wall Street. She is often known as the most powerful woman on Wall Street, and now she is set to become a powerful woman in Silicon Valley.

 

 

Francis Ford Coppola Interview

Coppola

Coppola

San Francisco bay area has a rich history of filmmaking. The tradition goes all the way to the early 20thc when Niles Canyon near Fremont was home to the Silent Film Industry. Many silent films were produced in the studios of Niles Canyon.

Fast forward to the late 1960s when Francis Ford Coppolo  and George Lucas established American Zoetrope studio in San Francisco. If you are ever in the North Beach area of San Francisco look for the American Zoetrope building that is located right beneath the TransAmerica Pyramid building. You cannot miss the green color building.

Both Coppola and Lucas went on to make some of the most iconic American films. Did you know parts of Coppola’s “Apocalpyse Now,” were shot on Napa River? Listen to Academy Award winning editor Lisa Fruchtman talk about it here. She worked on “Apocalypse Now.”

Coppola eventually  branched out into wines and hospitality business. Here is a terrific interview with Coppolo from The Financial Times that is studded with all sorts of wonderful “film” tidbits like actor Yul Brynner was a TV director and Sidney Lumet, the famous filmmaker was Brynner’s assistant.

Photo credit: Gerald Geronimo at http://www.flickr.com/people/25445109@N07

Lumiere Brothers Showed Their First Motion Picture In Paris On This Day In 1895

Louis Lumiere and Auguste Lumiere, the French inventors showed their first motion picture in Paris on March 22, 1895. They made the film  using Cinematographe, which in turn was inspired by Thomas Edison’s invention Kinetascope.

Workers Leaving The Lumiere Factory,” is less than a minute long and to use that hackneyed phrase the rest is history. In 1896 Lumiere brothers sent Marius Sestier to Bombay, India. Sestier showed the motion picture at the Watson Hotel in Bombay, and that gave birth to Indian cinema. Bombay, now called Mumbai is the headquarters of Bollywood, which is what Hindi cinema is called today. And the dream merchants of India make hundreds of films every year.

And if you can follow French here is an interview with Louis Lumiere.

World Water Day And Water Crisis In California

San Francisco

San Francisco

Today is World Water day and naturally there are lots of stories, photo essays and interviews about water and how millions of people around the world have no access to water. The hashtag #worldwaterday is trending on social media and is helping create awareness about water right from paucity of water to how to solve the problem of water.

For folks in California we are consumed with our own water crisis. California is entering its fourth year of drought. A lot has been written and discussed about California’s drought that you can read here, here and here.

Is the state going to run out of water? That was the headline that dominated the news a few days ago when Jay Famiglietti wrote an op-ed in Los Angeles Times (LA Times) about California’s water crisis. He wrote:

Right now the state has only about one year of water supply left in its reservoirs, and our strategic backup supply, groundwater, is rapidly disappearing. California has no contingency plan for a persistent drought like this one (let alone a 20-plus-year mega-drought), except, apparently, staying in emergency mode and praying for rain.

Familglietti  is a hydrologist senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory/Caltech and a professor of Earth system science at UC Irvine. He is working on a book about the disappearance of ground water all over the world.

Apparently that comment of Famiglietti was misunderstood as this Los Angeles Times article explains.

Famiglietti said it gave some the false impression that California is at risk of exhausting its water supplies. The satellite data he cited, which measure a wide variety of water resources, show “we are way worse off this year than last year,” he said. “But we’re not going to run out of water in 2016,” because decades worth of groundwater remain.

So, California is not going to run out of water but that there is a water problem in the state. Governor Jerry Brown recently announced a $1 billion relief package,  then there is the restriction on watering your lawns. Some folks have been talking about rationing water, but the question is how do you effectively implement and monitor such a solution?

While policy makers are figuring out how to handle the water crisis there are innovators, technologists and entrepreneurs, who are focussed on finding solutions to handle this on-going water crisis. For instance there is Dean Kamen’s “Slighshot” that can take any kind of water and produce potable water.  Here is a video interview I did with filmmaker Paul Lazarus about Kamen’s invention.