Google Launchpad Accelerator Class 4 starts this week with 2 RP companies

In May, Google announced its fourth class of Launchpad Accelerator. This is the same program I mentioned in April in which Google acts as a non-financial incubator for selected start-up tech companies from emerging countries. Class four has landed this week in Silicon Valley for a two week “boot camp” at the Google Developers Launchpad Space in San Francisco.

The class consists of thirty-three companies from sixteen countries including Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico. Two companies are representing the Philippines—BLOOM, a blockchain technology company focused on the dependably robust remittance market in the Philippines, and HonestyApps, a platform that is targeting the fast creation of mobile app.

BLOOM, aka BloomSolutions, Inc, is a Bitcoin-based software company focused on remittances. The company was founded by 36-year old University of the Philippines graduate Luis Buenaventura and University of Queensland graduate Israel Keys. CEO Keys also holds a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Self-proclaimed cryptocurrency specialists, Bloom’s team is aiming to deliver on one of the great promises of technology--that it improves the lives of those on the other side of the digital divide. Remittances have historically been dominated by high-charging banks, Western Union, and distribution infrastructures like those owned by the Lhullier family. It is high time that a disruptive technology ease the process of money transfer as well as lower the cost of transactions. According to its website, Bloom can lower remittance costs by more than 50%. I am looking forward to hearing and writing more about this company.

HonestyApps is an app creation platform that has been used to create event apps and dating apps, among others. While their Facebook page confirms that the founders are now stateside, I can find very little on the management team. First order of business at Google, I hope, is that they guide the companies on filling out an About page and a Team page for their company websites.

Google has explicitly mentioned in their announcement that they are going to instruct the members of class 4 on the use of Artificial Intelligence and machine learning. While AI promises to be the latest status-quo disrupting technology in not-just-Silicon-Valley- anymoreland, there seems to be a platform war underway among the large tech giants. Thus, training companies in emerging countries to use the Google platform may be just as beneficial to Google as it is to the companies.

I enjoy the stream of startup companies unearthed by Google’s competition. I now use Zipmatch (from class 3) for my Philippine real estate searches. I also find it promising that there is a growing ecosystem of fintech players in Manila. The Philippines certainly stands to leverage technology into improved consumer credit and payments systems. This could be life-changing for the underprivileged who are still burdened with prepaid systems and cash-based transactions. Lightning fast payments may serve to blur the line between credit and prepaid.

The Google boot camp ends on July 26th with a private event for the participants. They will probably be sequestered inside hip brick buildings in San Francisco’s SOMA district for most of their two weeks here. So in case we do not see you, which is very likely, Bloom…Honesty, safe travels, live long, prosper, and break down that digital divide.


Filipina candidate for Seattle Port Commissioner visits BayArea

On July 19, 2017, Frontier Tech Talk is holding its firstpanel discussion of the summer, Driving Innovation and Reach.  This one is about the space race.  The event will take place from 6pm to8:30pm at the Burlingame offices of law firm Carr-McClellan at 216 ParkRoad.  For tickets, please go to do an internet search for “Frontier Tech Talk July 19”.  Philippine-focused STAC, short forScience and Technology Advisory Council, and Carr-McClellan are co-sponsoringthe event.
The guest speakers include Bea Querido-Rico and EmelinePaat-Dahlstrom.  Of course, I haveto mention this detail:  both Beaand Emeline are Filipinas.
Paat-Dahlstrom, flying back to the Bay Area from her currentbase in New Zealand, has been active in the space-focused start up world,consulting and working for startups involved in developing commercial transportto the Moon.  She will speak abouther efforts in engaging emerging countries in space.
Querido-Rico is an engineer by training and served mostrecently as program manager for the Port of Seattle, having worked previously atBoeing and Lockheed Martin, among other places.  She received a Masters from the MIT-Zaragoza InternationalLogistics Program.  Querido-Ricoleft her position at the Port of Seattle in May of 2017 to run for the positionof Port Commissioner.
What does the Port of Seattle do, you may wonder.  On those rare Seattle days when heavyprecipitation is not obscuring your vision (or spirits), you may notice thevast corrugated coastline in and around the city, home to harbors and ports,marinas and fishermens’ terminals.The Port of Seattle runs these as well as the Seattle-TacomaInternational Airport.  There is agap, so goes the argument from parties close to the candidate, between thePort’s current development efforts and the local aerospace industry that is1300 strong in the Seattle area. Querido-Rico proposes to bridge this gapbetween the government’s imagination and the vision of private industry.  She has begun to gain support from spaceventure capitalists as a result.
Work on space-focused businesses has been underway for quitesome time.  Indeed, Elon Musk’sSpaceX, with its ambitions of putting man on Mars, has been busy launchingsatellites into orbit, a more practical pursuit it doesn’t advertise.  However, impediments to prolific space travelstill exist.  Shocking, right?  Not the least issue is radiationpoisoning.  Without the protectiongiven to us by the Earth’s atmosphere, prolonged exposure to the Sun’s rays onthe Moon or Mars may result in radiation exposure that has not yet beenunderstood.  The same is true forrepeated trips to and from these destinations.  Another issue is the long-term effects of zero gravity, whichcan deteriorate muscle mass and bone density.
None of these would be deal killers, though, not forme.  If presented with anopportunity to visit the Moon on a short trip, particularly if I’mallowed to bring my pogo stick, I would sign the waiver.  Hopefully, these matters and more willbe covered on Wednesday.  So pleaseget your tickets and please support Bea Querido-Rico in her politicalambitions.  We don’t have enoughFilipinos in office in the United States.We really don’t.
Querido-Rico’s web page is and she has acrowdfunding website at  I just made a donation and the websitegave me this link to share  To quote Lin-Manuel Miranda, a thing Ido in almost every column, “leave it to the immigrants, they’ll get the jobdone.”

Comparing the French and American revolutions

As I write this column, sprays of popping lights are igniting across the country. For once, I am not in the US, celebrating in New York City where I typically observe the 4th and where I typically read the Declaration of Independence out loud to my kids. They have heard the story many times from their parents but largely because they are fans of Hamilton (the musical). Thank you, Lin-Manuel Miranda.

When that document was signed, the gentlemen who put their names to it understood the stakes: if they did not succeed, they would be tried as traitors and they would be hanged. I like to think about it, especially on this day. I wonder what it’s like to take a stand with implications so severe. It was not clear that they would be able to rebuff the British. In fact, by August of 1776, the British had parked over 400 ships from New York Harbor to Staten Island. If you happen to ever visit Lower Manhattan, look at the harbor and think what it was like to see that view speckled with 400 antagonistic warships. I have never seen that many boats in the harbor, nothing like that number, not even 100 boats in the upper bay at any given time.

I am writing from France on this special holiday so let me give a nod to the revolution that happened here. I am fascinated with revolutions because there was a very special one that happened close to home, at least my heart’s home. The French Revolution, though concurrent with American Independence, did not preserve the ideologies they professed—liberty, equality, and brotherhood. The ultimate problem is that it violated so many rules of humanity. The beheading of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette are seminal events in world history. However, it is not at widely know that the Louis XVII, a child my son’s age, was first kept under abusive guardianship, told his mother no longer wanted him, rid of his identity (they called him Hugh Capet) and finally locked away in a sunless tower cell for the last two years of his life. His cell was infested with rats. At the age of 10, a few months younger than my son is now, he died of an infection of the lymph nodes.

When I think of the French Revolution, I think of French-on-French atrocities and nothing of the soaring ideas they wanted to pass down in history. When I think of the American Revolution, I think of a collection of intelligent bad-assess that had driven their stakes in the ground, given up tea, risked their lives and all for the intangible goal of remaking the world as it should be. And that “should be” which still seems to be gaining ground today happens to be one of the most compelling ideas in human history:

“We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal….”

With that one line, the world was changed. It may not have changed instantaneously, but it has set us on a path of social change that is not likely to reverse course, not ever. Hopefully, these ideas will affect the rest of the world at their own pace.

The founding fathers, the signers of the Declaration, could have capitalized on their newly acquired powers and secured the country’s leadership fall to their descendants. Instead they chose to propagate their ideas.

If you haven’t gotten a chance yet, take a few minutes of your day to read Thomas Jefferson’s missive. He may have been a Caucasian man in a wig of white hair and we may be brown people who may or may have been born in America now. But his is our history too. These ideas are ours to nurture and implement. Those fireworks popping across the time zones are for our eyes.


FYLPRO’s Next Immersion Program Deadline is July 7

Is anyone shocked to see how upwardly mobile the Fil-Am community has been over the last 20 years, maybe 30 years? Long ago, there used to be an offensive joke that if you looked up “Filipina” in the American dictionary, the definition would say “domestic helper.” Now that seems ridiculous. In my everyday life, I don’t run into Filipinos in low skilled jobs. I run into them as teachers, doctors, nurses, and accountants. I see them in the real estate business, at banks, and at tech firms. On occasion, there’s a new Filipino billionaire at the helm of a hot IPO. And there’s Bruno Mars,, and the former Miss Universe. At the firm where I work, there are four Filipinos in a 25 person office—two are technologists, one is in finance, and there’s me. All this might be anecdotal, but I don’t think I need to pore through a pound of statistics to make the point that Filipinos living in the US are doing better today than they were two decades ago.

I can only guess at the causes. When we immigrated (or your ancestors immigrated), you had to cross an ocean to get here and likely came from an advantaged demographic that probably had a superior command of the English language, a higher appetite for risk, and a high regard for education and self improvement. As a former US colony, we were already familiar in fundamental ways with American culture. So when the dictatorial barrier crumbled 31 years ago, we had a cultural gap to close but we closed it quickly.

This generation of Fil-Am millennials blends effortlessly into general America. Couple this with the ascent of multiculturalism during the


Syjuco and Collins Team Up Again with Almost Sunrise

Syjuco and Collins Team Up Again with Almost Sunrise 
By Cristina Osmeña
Next month, it will be 30 years since the double rape and homicide of sisters Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong in Cebu, Philippines changed the landscape of my family’s grief.  My second cousin, Paco Osmeña Larrañaga, was arrested and convicted of this crime and sentenced to death despite overwhelming evidence that he was enjoying the night with two dozen friends at a bar in Manila.  Yet, despite an extensive collection of relatives connected to government, some who were in positions to have spoken for him more proactively, it was Manila-born Marty Syjuco who decided to do something for his brother-in-law.  (Syjuco’s brother is married to Larrañaga’s sister.)
Marty Syjuco and Michael Collins (director) made a widely acclaimed documentary called Give Up Tomorrow.  The documentary won 10 film awards, including the Audience Award at the 2011 TriBeCa Film Festival, and received nominations for countless others.  While the film called much attention to Paco’s plight, it did not result in a revocation of the guilty verdict.  However, the attendant impact campaign, Free Paco Now, swelled public sympathy for his release and catalyzed the abolition of the death penalty in the Philippines.

Restorative Justice comes to Bay Area Community Schools

On May 30, 2017 from 6pm to 8pm, in the multi-purpose room of Daly City’s Thomas R. Pollicita Middle School, Dr. Loretta Johnson of the American Federation of Teachers will be flying in from Washington DC to lead a panel discussion on Restorative Practices.  Dr. Johnson will be joined by local educators, particularly members of the American Federation of Teachers local 3267 and American Federation of Teachers local 1481, Daly City Councilmember Ray Buenaventura, as well as student activists from the community.  The school is located at 550 East Market Street in Daly City and the event is open to the public.
It sounds like a complicated social science but Restorative Practices is simply incorporating a child’s emotional landscape into the way a school manages its culture.  When I was in public school, managing emotions was considered the domain of my parents.  That left a lot of room for imperfection in the school environment.  Students were left to manage situations like bullying, cliques or general exclusion and insecurity on their own.  School was for academics and sports, not matters of the heart.  Decades later, during the Obama Administration, a new mandate has risen around thinking through the public school environment—a mandate that includes social and emotional factors into the student culture.  After all, the majority of a student’s waking hours are spent at school.  There is a lot of emotional exposure that happens outside the parental domain.
The primary focus of implementing Restorative Practices in Bay Area schools is Restorative Justice.  This involves resolving disciplinary behavior differently, through group discussions and community involvement.
“Schools and teachers do not want to be part of a system that criminalizes students at an early age,” said Melinda Dart, President of the American Federation of Teachers local 3267.  “Schools need to build positive environments just to get everybody there every day,” she continued, referring to the notion that driving high attendance is one of the key factors in the success of a student population.
“Unjust disciplinary consequences can make kids feel alienated,” said Dart.  These would include classic school punishments like suspension or expulsion.  Restorative Justice uses a softer approach to discipline that would include empowering the victim and teaching empathy to the bully.
The evening discussion on May 30th attempts to bring the community into the broader discussion of rolling out Restorative Practices into local schools.  Including the community in the solution, in fact, is one of the five pillars of the restorative discipline.  The others include healthy relationships between educators and students, conflict resolution, restoring positive relationships, and reducing harmful behavior.  In order to achieve all this, teachers must undergo training.  In the Peninsula, the schools furthest along in adopting Restorative Justice are three in the Mission Corridor of Community Schools—Pollicita Middle School, Jefferson High School, and Woodrow Wilson Elementary, all in Daly City.  Woodrow Wilson Elementary will have a program geared to younger students called Soul Shop.
By taking the perspective that “the bully is not a happy, well-adjusted individual,” and focusing on changing that person’s trajectory before it develops further is expected to reduce crime before the criminal is formed.  To accomplish such a thing, the educators driving the program need the support of the community.  So come hear Dr. Johnson if you live in the area.  It will be a nice way to start the short week after your Memorial Day break.



Waiting for Season 7

After back to back to back weeks of quantum entanglement and the goings on of Silicon Valley, I’m going to focus on the serious stuff—Season7 of Game of Thrones. I am embarrassed to say that I am not only addicted to the show, but I’m letting my kids watch it. My family has been watching over the entire series from the start, looking for clues about the relationship between Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. Did he kidnap her or did they runaway? We hear both accounts embedded in lines. The writers did not wrap this up for easy consumption like a box of Chicken Nuggets. Really, I think this show has to be watched all over from the beginning in order to really enjoy Season 7, which premiers on July 16.

Whether or not Rhaegar and Lyanna loved each other, we know that they are Jon Snow’s parents. The viewer knows this and Bran Stark saw this in a vision, but everyone else privy to this secret, is dead. He and Daenerys are the only Targaryens alive. I wonder how he discovers his own Targaryen-ness. Viserys Targaryen claimed to be a dragon and Daenerys, though the object of dragon affection and commendably immune to fire, does not seem dragon enough, not to my satisfaction. That naked/fire-immunity thing is getting long in the tooth. I am hoping that Jon Snow will ultimately turn out to be a dragon. Now, that would be interesting. He has already risen from the dead and intimidated a white walker. Jon Snow is more than just man…that’s my theory. When he walks into the fire, not only will all of his clothes burn off, but he will breathe fire too.

“The story of Daenerys Targaryen introduces the notion of "Einsteinian" power,” says Matt Lowenkron of Arizona radiowave fame. “One measure of the legitimacy of power is that power, just like energy, cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another. And, that is certainly one underlying theme of the Daenerys chapters.”

Here is another unpredicted twist: Daenerys does not live to assume the Iron Throne. I don’t know how she dies but putting her on the Iron Throne will wrap up the story so predictably that it cannot happen that way. Instead, Tyrion Lannister and Sansa Stark will reunite in a marriage of happy convenience and rule together. Jon will rule the North. Jamie will kill Cersei in the heat of the moment, having been forced to decide between brother and sister.

But enough of the realities with respect to who will sit on the Iron Throne, in a perfect Westeros, if the seat to the Iron Throne were an elected one, who would you vote for: Donald Trump, President Duterte, or King Joffrey? And if Westeros also had an electoral college system, do you think one would win the popular vote and another the electoral vote and thus the throne? Would the White Walkers be allowed to vote? Would the Wildlings be deported, even if they fought to defend the wall? Finally, if KingJoffrey were presented with the liver of a terrorist, would he offer to eat it with salt and pepper?

These are the profound things I have to share when I am past my deadline. I look forward to Ed Sheeran’s crooning cameo and I’m hoping I can actually recognize some of the other ones.

The ultimate plot twist came from Manila resident and relative of mine, Bob Barretto: “Dueto climate change, winter isn’t coming.”


How PhilDev Plans to Eradicate Poverty in the Philippines

After I arrived on time to visit Dado Banatao, I got lost.

Instead of calling from the lobby as I was instructed, I somehow found my way to his floor. The doors opened into an all white utility area that led to continuous concrete, an outdoor patio, and a cluster of solar panels. There was no hint of a path to any office let alone to one that housed one of the most prominent Filipinos in Silicon Valley. I finally gave up and called to be fetched.

When I am old and my memories have blended into the fictions in my mind, I will remember winding through a labyrinth of hidden pipes and electrical boxes, the din of computational spin and a secret elevator door that expanded into private posh offices revealed, as if through parted mists, with a quick hydraulic hiss.

Dado took my meeting without even requesting my agenda, which was to donate Sunpreme solar panels to the Philippine Development Foundation (PhilDev). A plug for Sunpreme: our glass-on-glass panels are much more robust in harsh environments, salty air, and signal 3 storms. The start of the discussion lingered on a thin client solution for schools (computer terminals in which computing is performed remotely, in centralized servers or the cloud). Internet speeds are snail-mail slow, I protested. And he went on to explain a solution—a different WiFi router that separated the operating planes, lifting one of them into the cloud and leaving behind a low cost box. It is a world-class engineering solution meant only for the Philippines, our Philippines, just because.

For twenty years, starting with my early career at Hambrecht & Quist’s research department, I had known of Dado as a prime mover in the semiconductor industry. I knew that he had founded S3, developed the PC chipset and a graphics accelerator, and wisely invested in Marvell. What I had not known was how his story started.

Born to a rural family in Cagayan (not to be confused with Cagayan de Oro), Dado was sent off to school at the age of 11 where, as an antidote to his isolation, he immersed himself in studies that started with math and ultimately led to an intense romance with engineering at the Mapua Institute. It is an unusual story. A single sentence couldn’t do it justice. But it begs a pressing question: about 42 million Filipinos live on less than $2 a day with 21 million of them student-aged or younger. How many potential Dados are in this pool of kids who didn’t get the chance to fall in love with math, go to Mapua, work for Boeing and finally study solid-state physics at Stanford? What if one of them, dazed by the heat on her sun-struck neck, had the key to the grand unifying theory locked in her brain? Or a cure to cancer? Or, most important, eternal youth? A lot of potential genius is left un-mined (about 31,500 geniuses, more precisely, if the bell curve applies).

With the methodical approach of an engineer, Dado has done something about it. Many of us ask the same questions and guess at answers. Many of us have untested solutions and the passive will to discuss these problems over long meals in manicured places. PhilDev has done a lot more than talk and tinker. From its scholarship fund to its school computer program to an entrepreneurial mentorship program, the organization has thoughtfully chosen to


April 24 Deadline for Google Developers Launchpad

This is timely news. Monday, April 24, 2017 at 9am PDT is the deadline to apply for the next “class” of Google Developers Launchpad. The 6-month program is open to start ups from any of the following countries: the Philippines, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam as well as 11 other countries in Africa, Latin America and Europe. Applications can be submitted through the following link startups/accelerator/ and requires filling out a short form and recording a video presentation about your company.

“This is a way for citizens of Silicon Valley to spread its magic to other countries,” said one attendee of the APAC Launchpad event earlier this year.

Structured like a non-financial incubator of sorts, Google is looking for “companies that already have traction but need support to go to the next level.”

Google will select the startups with the best prospects for high growth. As long as they are technology based, they can offer products in tech hardware, apps, cloud services, websites, among other things.

The selected participants in “class 4” will be invited to an all-expenses paid 2 week boot camp at Google headquarters, access to Google’s resources, engineers and mentors and the opportunity to work closely with Google for six months. All this in exchange for no equity. Nothing sounds better to a start up than non-dilutive resources.

“I’m thrilled to see that Southeast Asia is on the radar, including the Philippines that had Zipmatch representing the country,” said Christina Rodriguez Laskowski, an attendee of the APAC Launchpad event and President of STAC. STAC has “been actively focused on increasing awareness of the opportunities in Southeast Asia. Although we have an active ecosystem, we don’t have a diversity of opportunities. We’re building out relationships because through collaboration we can build something bigger. The skillsets could differ from country to country. Indonesia is pulling founders from the Philippines (as an example).”

Google has completed its program for class 3 which included Philippine company Zipmatch, billed as the upcoming Zillow of the Philippines. Now I know where to go for my Philippine real estate webshopping needs.

Laskowski was energized by the idea of treating Southeast Asia as a unified region. I asked her what motivated them (Launchpad focuses on several regions, all emerging markets.) “Growth is not going to come from here,” she said. “It’s going to come from Asia.” And elsewhere.

If any hungry Philippine-based start up reads this, we need more servers in our country. Anything to speed up the slow crawl of internet data. Convince Google to locate some of their servers in the Philippines, thereby giving us a faster internet. Better yet, provide your own caching services and charge.

Another notable event…on April 25, Maoi Arroyo, founder and CEO of Hybridigm Consulting will be speaking at 494 Lomita Mall in Stanford. Some of you may know it as the Skilling Auditorium. Her consulting firm tries to bring together skills in business, technology, finance and elsewhere to push for innovations that would eradicate poverty and increase average household income in the Philippines. Her talk, titled Relentless: Forcing Impact Through the Gauntlet of an Emerging Ecosystem, starts at 4:30pm.


I, Quantum Romantic

In 1935, Albert Einstein wrote a paper with two collegues, Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen, called “Can Quantum-Mechanical Description of Physical Reality Be Considered Complete?” The spirit of the paper was to uncover the defects of quantum mechanics in the form of the wave function. I suppose Einstein had a bone to pick with quantum mechanics, a bone about probability replacing God’s will, more simply. But what the paper brought up has captivated me for the better part of two decades—the phenomenon now known as quantum entanglement.

Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen did not refer to entanglement as such. Quantum entanglement, as it is now known, postulated the existence of particle pairs (an electron and a positron, for example) that act like a system no matter how far they are apart, even if they are separated by the entirety of the universe. If the pair acts as a system with a unity of spin, then if one particle spins one way, the other particle will always be found to spin the other way. The relationship exists no matter the distance between them, even if it is light years or the width of the galaxy or the entire breadth of spacetime.

This was the subject of my first date with my husband. And the second date. People used to ask me about how our relationship began and I used to answer that it was over the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen thought experiment until I realized how pretentious that sounded. Then I came up with the story of how I met him the week after my rabbit died, which is true. I replaced the EPR paradox with a story about my late rabbit because I was worried about being pretentious. But it is not as pretentious as it seems. In fact, quantum entanglement has to be one of the most romantic ideas I’ve ever heard in science: two particles so attached that the laws of quantum mechanics don’t apply and the speed of light does not limit the strength of their unity. If ever the idea that “love is love is love is love is love” should apply outside living consciousness, this is it.

The EPR paradox paper refers to “physical reality” and “physical theory” but was in fact really three guys in Princeton just thinking. It was a thought experiment. The instruments didn’t exist to verify these ideas in a lab in 1935. Quantum entanglement was not observed until 1972 in an experiment performed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology by Stuart Freedman and John Clauser. Today, quantum entanglement has crossed over to the pedestrian world of applied physics most notably in quantum computing and communications (availing of the superluminal transfer of information). I keep finding articles on the subject in magazines. They bring up an exciting new application or another new lab verification. But I find the lofty concept much more profound than its practical application. Particles so attached that they transcend the constraints of spacetime. How romantic is that? So romantic, it reminds me of my first date with the guy I eventually married.

Subscribe to this RSS feed


Sign up to keep in touch!

Be the first to hear about special offers and exclusive deals from TechNews and our partners.

Check out our Privacy Policy & Terms of use
You can unsubscribe from email list at any time