10 Observations from Last Week

Tech PR could learn something from the way automakers pivoted in Detroit this week. A year ago with oil above $100 per barrel, everyone was talking energy efficiency. Now, with oil below $50, trucks stole the spotlight. The only problem: by the time these cars and trucks come out in 2017, who knows where oil will be? That said, here’s the 10 stories you should know in startups, tech and Chicago this week.

1. Have to start this off with big news: Josh Inglis – Propllr’s founder – is one of 50 Chicagoans to follow on Twitter, according to Built in Chicago. He’s right there with Groupon’s Eric Lefkofsky, 1871’s Howard Tullman and GrubHub’s Matt Maloney, which puts him in some serious company. If you’re not yet, you can follow him @propllrhead.

2. Google Glass is dead. Or at least it is in its current iteration. Many companies would give anything to have their company name become a verb. But, on the opposite side, they never expected Google Glass to be a noun that describes a class of people that use it – Glassholes. In Friday’s “The Beat” by ChicagoInno (a great daily addiction), the guys over there put together some of the less-than-accurate immediate reactions to Google Glass – including “Google Wins the Internet” in TechCrunch and Time’s “Best Inventions of the Year 2012.”

3. One of our clients has us thinking a lot about how tech talent and resources would ideally be dedicated to solve real problems – like chronic illness. So, coming out of CES with the selfie stick and wearables that were designed to keep the healthy healthier, it’s good to see a story about how 3d printing is used to create something useful and awesome – a prosthetic arm for a 7-year-old boy. Doesn’t hurt that it’s designed like a Storm Trooper. So cool.

4. Ted Gonder, the CEO of Moneythink – a pro-bono Propllr client with a startup ethos – has some ideas for parents on how to teach their children responsible stewardship of money. In U.S. News, he says that parents should stop telling children what they bought was wasteful, and instead help them understand how saving can help them meet their goals.

5. January is a good month – everyone is refreshed, hopeful that bad habits can be fixed, and it’s not quite as dark when we leave work. But if you haven’t yet settled on how you’re going to read more this year (a perennial resolution), Moritz Plassnig has a reading list to get you started. Zero to One is on our list, along with about 15 others.

6. How will the 2014 elections impact net neutrality? Well, apparently Republicans in Congress are warming to passing some type of legislation that would formally insert the government into the debate. Apparently, Republicans are moving away from the telecoms and towards supporting the Netflix position that, like mankind, all traffic is created equal.

7. Speaking of politics, this week marks President Obama’s penultimate State of the Union address. Among other proposals, the President is going to outline a plan for cybercrime. That plan is unlikely to make the hacker community very happy – as it will up the penalties for a range of crimes. Our take: cybercrime is a serious problem for businesses and individuals alike, but it’s hard to think that increased penalties are the same as an action plan. It will make people feel great, but is unlikely to deter the criminals – many of which are located abroad. If you run a business, you have to check out our client insureon’s blog to find out how you can stop and manage data breaches as an entrepreneur.

8. OneEleven Wacker, a striking new apartment building on the Chicago River, just sold for a record-setting price of $328 million, or $651,000 per unit. Between those prices and the hot VC market, it’s clear: the good times are here again (or is it all a sign that the bubble’s about to pop?).

9. We cannot wait to see Michael Lewis’ “The Big Short” on the silver screen. With Brad Pitt, Christian Bale and Ryan Gosling capturing the inherent dreaminess of financial titans – count us in. The book was great – but films often have a hard time with finance topics. “Margin Call” was also about the 2008 financial crisis, and we liked it – though it only grossed $19.5 million. It’s safe to say The Big Short has a higher budget and will need to go bigger. For that reason, we’re bearish on its prospects.

10. This week, Glazed and Infused will be offering free donut holes and coffee at all of their locations. You can grab three holes and a cup of Joe – probably all you need to fulfill that morning sweet tooth.

Bonus #11: Tired of the same ol’ IPAs? Check out the new brewery in town: Motor Row Brewing. Instead of ales, it specializes in brewing lagers. We had the chance to try some of its offerings last week and were quite impressed. Beautiful building, as well. Will be a huge hit with McCormick Place attendees.

Onward and Upward,

The Propllr Team