Turns out, Airbnb is not only a disruptive alternative to hotels. It’s also a good place to work.

The San Francisco-based service, which allows people to rent their homes and apartments to travelers, won the top spot on Glassdoor's 8th Annual List of 50 Best Places to Work in the US. The winners are selected by employees themselves.

“The people that work here are some of the best I've met in my professional career,” wrote one of the voters of Airbnb. “The culture is good. The founders are great people, and I believe they have the best intentions for the company, the employees, and our community.”

Not everyone agrees

Bain & Company took second, and Guidewire, HubSpot and Facebook filled out the top five for Glassdoor’s “large” enterprise category.

Where is the best SMB place to work? That honor went to Madwire, where, as one voter put it, all the workers are “highly motivated, driven and passionate" about their jobs and contributions. But it is hard work, some voters said.

Grand Rounds, CloudLock, Instructure and WillowTree, in that order, rounded out the top five SMBs. Marketing technology provider Demandbase took 10th.

Shutterstock’s New Editor

Stock photo provider Shutterstock released this week a new editing tool in open beta. Shutterstock Editor is a "simple, fast and free way" to edit photos, according to company officials.

The tool enables users to select from 10 recommended preset sizes in order to crop and re-size an image for the most popular social media sites, before downloading it. There is also the option to custom crop an image or apply filters that to change the hue of a photo or illustration.

Shutterstock Editor, company officials claimed, can help marketers prepare images for social, blogs, campaigns or websites.

Mobile Darkened Black Friday

In-store traffic continued to erode over November, but retailers made strides to engage shoppers in their physical stores, according to findings in a Black Friday and November shopping study by San Francisco, Calif.-based Euclid Analytics.

Through in-store experiences, retail brands are leveraging their physical locations as part of an overarching omni-channel strategy, officials said. The report measured data across hundreds of millions of domestic shopping sessions to understand brick-and-mortar shopping behavior and its influence on online activity.

Findings included:

  • The percentage of shoppers on Black Friday, as measured by footfall, decreased almost 1.5 percent year-over-year
  • Engagement rate, the percentage of shoppers that remained in-store more than 20 minutes, increased by 1.4 percent year-over-year
  • Loyalty, as measured by repeat visits, declined almost 1.5 percent year-over-year

"Mobile has killed traditional Black Friday,” Randy Brasche, vice president of marketing at Euclid Analytics, said in a statement. 

“Who needs to wait in a freezing cold line at midnight, knowing that better deals are happening online or the following week in the store? Forward-thinking retailers like Best Buy and Target have found the right formula to cater to these savvy customers across their online and brick-and-mortar operations. In 2016, retailers must bring data into their brick-and-mortar locations and gain a 360 view of their omni-channel customer.”

TopQuadrant Lands a Web Vet

Semantic Web veteran Andy Seaborne joined Raleigh, N.C.-based TopQuadrant. Irene Polikoff, TopQuadrant CEO, said in a statement that she anticipated Seaborne would enhance "our solutions with agile capabilities for enhancing data quality, capturing its meaning and seamlessly providing users with more accurate and timely business information and insightful analytics." 

Seaborne said the Semantic Web approach to data management and integration is as applicable in the enterprise as it is to open data.

Start Me Up

The Internet of Things (IoT) keeps paying off.

WiSilica, which claims to help create a more intelligent IoT, has been selected by the 2015 Golden Bridge Awards organization as a winner in both the Startup of the Year and Innovations in Technology categories for its leadership and innovation leadership in the IoT market.

Judges representing a cross-sector of end-users and global technology experts recognized WiSilica as the 2015 Startup of the Year for its "ability to simplify the challenges with today's Internet of Things."

Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based WiSilica's’s end-to-end solution connects millions of devices and uses predictive intelligence.

"WiSilica provides customers with the building blocks and framework to create complete smart IoT environments," Suresh Singamsetty, founder and CEO with WiSilica, said in a statement. 

Forget the Big Data Hype?

Big data has moved from hype to reality, according to a study released this week by San Mateo, Calif.-based big data provider Guavus. Its research shows 87 percent of respondents either having completed or are currently implementing a big data analytics strategy.

The primary drivers behind this increase in adoption include: revenue maximization (66 percent), customer experience and loyalty (61 percent) and operational-expense reduction (61 percent). Within these areas, the main uses cases that operators are looking to address in the next two years are:

  • Proactive customer care (57 percent)
  • Targeted offerings (47 percent)
  • Service assurance (44 percent)

"In a world of mounting competition, providing a seamless customer experience holds the key to safeguarding operator revenue streams," Anukool Lakhina, founder and CEO of Guavus, said in a statement. "It's no surprise that proactive customer care is the top area for investment in big data."

Partnership a Reality

Remote control and online collaboration software provider TeamViewer of Tampa, Fla., announced this week a partnership with Mountain View, Calif.-based Atheer.

Atheer created the new AiR™ (Augmented interactive Reality™) computing platform including the AiR Glasses, interactive smart glasses, and the collaboration AiR Enterprise Suite.

Officials said the goal is to enable remote screen sharing and control of smart glasses for live field professional guidance, administration and support.

TeamViewer's platform and set of APIs serves as "a flexible and adjustable interface, enabling us to partner with some of the most well-known and innovative companies in the world," Andreas Koenig, CEO of TeamViewer, said in a statement. 

With the rise of IoT, TeamViewer is beginning to play a role in managing devices such as AiR Glasses that do not have a conventional screen. "Our partnership with Atheer is a perfect example of our foray into device management beyond smartphones and desktops, an area we expect to become a substantial source of growth for our company," Koenig said.

Online Mind Game

We’re addicted to the online world. And it’s getting to our heads.

A University of Buffalo researcher has developed a model to show the effects of personalizing online information, the university announced this week.

Are your political sensitivities more to the left or to the right? Which candidate are your supporting? Is a particular social policy likely to achieve its goal? With each question, people tend to seek information that confirms their existing opinion or belief while avoiding contrary information.

This is selective exposure, and Internet technologies are likely exacerbating this behavior, according to Ivan Dylko, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at the University at Buffalo.

“We tend to look for information that confirms our points of view,” Dylko said in a report on the UB website. “It bolsters self-esteem, helps us effectively cope with political information overload, but on the other hand, it means we’re minimizing exposure to information that challenges us. Technology allows us to customize our online information environment.”

Dylko’s mode explores customizability’s political impact and suggests how the “automatic and consistent inclusion, exclusion and presentation of information” encourages political selective exposure.

“Scholars disagree about whether the Internet makes us more politically closed minded, or whether it exposes us to more politically diverse points of view,” he said. “... In a two-newspaper town, readers still might look at the rival paper in addition to their favored publication because the newspaper choices were relatively limited, but online readers can find and then spend hours looking only at content that perfectly fits their psychological and political preferences.”

Cortana Is Everywhere

Cortana expanded beyond the Windows 10 ecosystem and is now available on the iPhone, Android and Cyanogen OS powered devices as a "great companion experience to your Windows 10 PC," Microsoft officials announced this week.

In May, Microsoft announced Cortana would be the first personal digital assistant to help users complete tasks across their devices, from PC to phone and vice versa.

"Today is a big step in delivering on that promise," Microsoft officials wrote, "bringing even more ways to save you time and effort anywhere you need it."

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