‘Disruptive’ is a hot buzz word these days. You hear TV commentators and politicians using the word ‘disruptive’ all the time, but it sounds like most of them don’t know what the word means. ‘Disruptive’ does not mean ‘destructive’; however, that appears to be what a lot of people think it means. An angry child smashing the family’s porcelain dinnerware is not being disruptive. He is being destructive. So – what does ‘disruptive’ mean? The word ‘disruptive’ has 2 very different meanings, one negative and one positive.

In politics, ‘disruptive’ usually refers to something bad. ‘Disruptive’ can describe a person who is undisciplined, disorderly, unruly, chaotic, or who just won’t play by the rules. For example, in the first presidential debate in 2016, candidate Donald Trump interrupted Hillary Clinton 22 times in the first 30 minutes of the first debate. Constantly interrupting somebody who is speaking during a debate is very disruptive, and in the negative sense of the word.

However, in high technology, ‘disruptive’ usually refers to something good. That is because ‘disruptive’ has a second meaning. ‘Disruptive’ can refer to something new, innovative, or groundbreaking that radically changes the way business is conducted or how a product or service is produced, displacing the existing way of doing things. I was thinking about this last month at the annual BoxWorks conference in San Francisco. During his keynote address, Box CEO Aaron Levie interviewed Brian Chesney, the founder of AirBNB. Both of them referred to AirBNB as a ‘disruptive business’, and it is. Mr. Chesney created a new business model for temporary housing that was cheaper for travelers and that provided new income for property owners. However, as a result of this, established hotels and motels lost a lot of business. This is an example of ‘disruption’ in the positive sense of the word. The next time you hear someone on TV using the words ‘disruptive’, ‘disrupter’, or ‘disruption’; think about what he means. If he is using the word in a story about a politician, it almost always means something bad. In high tech, it almost always means something good.

Auto Antonyms. There are a lot of words like ‘disruptive’ in the English language, words with 2 very different and sometimes opposite meanings. An auto-antonym is a word with 2 opposite definitions. My Uncle Maurice got me interested in auto-antonyms a long time ago. Consider the word ‘citation’, which is an auto-antonym. A citation can be a an award for good behavior ‘The Boy Scout received a citation for saving the drowning camper’ or a penalty for bad behavior ‘The policeman gave the driver a citation for parking in a bus stop.’ Words with 2 opposite definitions creates a lot of confusion and and sometimes start pointless arguments.

Will California Become Six States?

If am constantly amazed at the silly things that dot-com billionaires spend their money on. Most of these people are relatively young men who came into a lot of money suddenly, usually as a result of an IPO or a buyout. Once they get all this money, they go on spending sprees, buying toys – very, very expensive toys. For example, one of these guys bought a zeppelin, the world’s biggest zeppelin. You can see it flying around San Francisco Bay. The owner of the zeppelin uses it to fly his friends from Oakland Airport to the Napa Valley for dinner at pricey restaurants like the French Laundry. Other expensive toys purchased by internet billionaires include a Russian submarine, a chocolate factory on a pier near Fisherman’s Wharf, and one of the Hawaiian islands, and a populated island too! Can you imagine anyone having enough money to write out a check for a whole Hawaiian island?

This brings me around to Timothy Draper, a billionaire Silicon Valley venture capitalist. In July, Draper announced that he had collected enough signatures to qualify a state ballot initiative to divide California into six states. Draper paid people to gather 1,300,000 signatures, well over the 800,000 needed to put the measure on the ballot in 2016. Draper says he did it because: “California needs a reboot”, whatever that means.

One of the six states would be called Silicon Valley and would include all the counties around San Francisco Bay including San Francisco itself. Critics say that Draper’s plan is simply designed to cut off the wealthiest part of the state from the rest, leaving poor people in the Central Valley to fend for themselves.

California is not actually going to become six states. This ballot initiative is just another internet billionaire’s toy. It takes an Act of Congress to admit new states into the Union, and there is absolutely no possibility that Congress will allow California to become six states.

Aaron Levie. My nephew Aaron Levie started an internet company 8 years ago in my backyard called Box.com. Box.com now has over 1,000 employees and offices all over the world. I wonder what expensive toys Aaron will buy when his company goes public, which could happen soon.

The Lady and the Tiger. One expensive toy that Aaron might want to buy is the ‘Lady and the Tiger’ trick. When Aaron was growing up, we used to go to magic conventions together every summer. Aaron and I once saw the Lady and the Tiger trick performed at one of these conventions. In this trick, a beautiful young woman is put into a cage. The cage is lifted into the air and covered with a cloth. When the cloth is removed a few seconds later, the woman is gone, and a live 500 pound Bengal tiger is in the cage instead. Although Aaron knows how this trick is done, he has never done it. Aaron doesn’t have a tiger. Now –  Aaron doesn’t like it when I reveal magic secrets, but I am going to reveal a secret about this trick. No magician can actually turn a beautiful woman (or even an ugly one) into a Bengal tiger. No. In order for a magician to do this trick, he has to have a tiger first. I guess that’s not really a secret. You probably already figured that out.

Houdini Magic Shop. There are a number of magicians who do the ‘Lady and the Tiger’ trick, but I have no idea where they get their tigers from. They don’t sell tigers at magic stores. I have a friend who works at the Houdini magic shop at Pier 39 in San Francisco. Although they sell professional magic tricks there, I know they don’t sell Bengal tigers. I wonder where magicians get their Bengal tigers from. I looked up ‘Bengal tiger’ on Google Shopping, but nothing came up.

Landlord Drones?

The last time I saw Aaron Levie, he was speaking at a Box.com developer’s conference at Fort Mason in San Francisco. While he was giving his talk, a drone was flying around him on the stage.

It seems like everybody these days has drones. Private investigators are using drones to spy on adulterous spouses, parents accused of abusing children, and people suspected of filing fraudulent disability claims. People have gone to prison based on evidence obtained by drones. “Drones are a game changer” said one private investigator.

I saw a drone at a landlord conference last year. A drone was flying around the room. The drone salesman told me that: ‘every landlord should have a drone.’ I can think of several legitimate uses that a landlord might have for a drone. For example, a landlord might want to examine the condition of the roof of his building after a severe storm without climbing up a 30 foot ladder. However, I wondered if some of the landlords who were buying drones really wanted them just so they could spy on their tenants. As I was watching this drone fly around the landlord conference, I thought of all the tenants I have had in the past who were doing suspicious things that I wanted to know more about. A drone would have been handy at times; however, I am not going to get one. I suspect that my tenants would regard it as an invasion of their privacy if I had drones flying around their apartments just to make sure they weren’t doing anything naughty.

What Is More Secure: Cloud Storage Of Your Computer Files Or A U.S. Nuclear Weapons Complex?

SisterRiceAnswer: It’s your computer files. In February, 2014; Sister Megan Rice, an 84 year old Roman Catholic nun was sentenced to 3 years in prison for breaking into a nuclear weapons complex in Tennessee and defacing the secure area of the complex with anti-war slogans that she painted on the walls. The complex in Oak Ridge holds the U.S. government’s principal supply of bomb-grade uranium. Although heavily armed security guards patrolled the front gate, the elderly nun was able to enter the control center by going in an unguarded and unlocked back door labeled ‘Do Not Enter’, which private contractors apparently felt was adequate to prevent unauthorized entry. The contractors have since been fired. The government prosecutor asked the judge to sentence Sister Rice to 30 years in prison, but the judge sentenced her to just 3 years instead due to her advanced age, history of good works, and the fact that she didn’t take any uranium or plutonium out of the facility. Sister Rice’s story has been closely followed by the press in the Middle East. I think that if I was in Al Qaeda, I would find this story very interesting!


Box.com. 8 years ago, my nephew Aaron Levie, started a cloud storage business in my back yard, Box.com. (Aaron is actually my first cousin once removed, but I tell people that he is my nephew because I don’t want to have to explain to people what a first cousin once removed is.) Box.com has become the 800 pound gorilla in the corporate cloud storage market, with over 95% of Fortune 500 companies using it. Like a lot of successful dot-coms, Aaron started up on a shoestring, which is why he and his partners were living and working in my backyard cottage  for 10 months, from January to October, 2006. It was their first office as well as their home. I am sure that Aaron’s business would never have gotten off the ground if Box.com was as secure as Oak Ridge. So Yes, it does appear that cloud storage is a lot more secure than the government’s nuclear weapons arsenal.