About Monty

Monty Munford has more than 15 years' experience in mobile, digital media, web and journalism. He is the founder of Mob76, a company that helps tech companies raise money and exit. He speaks regularly at global media events with a focus on Africa, writes a weekly column for The Telegraph, is a regular contributor to The Economist, Wired, Mashable and speaks regularly on the BBC World Service.

BOOK REVIEW: The Industries Of The Future – Alec Ross

Future industries are the subjects of Ross’s eponymous book and the outlook isn’t looking good for anybody who was brought up in the analogue past.

futureFirst were the musicians, journalists and writers whose livelihoods were destroyed by digital, the next wave will see translation and driving careers destroyed and after that, it will be everything else.

Ross knows what he is talking about after his time in the White House as a Senior Advisor on Innovation to Hilary Clinton and this book is a worthy addition to the near-future canon. The Industries Of The Future.

The blurb talks of his travels that took in more than 40 countries and a million miles, but this is incidental to the stories within. Ross writes well on what he knows and, like an expensive consultant, he knows a lot about a lot.

For those who read such books, there is little here that is new. Most observers know that the next ten years will pick up on the disruption the internet has wreaked over the past two decades. Even so, for those who only know a lot about particular subjects, this book will serve as a decent reference book to their knowledge-gathering

BOOK REVIEW: Official ScratchJr Book

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Most parents with children of a certain age know about the Scratch programming language as much as the kids themselves. It is a free app that lets kids to code in an easy way by showing them how to create games and animations.

The best back-up to Scratch if kids want to learn more about coding is the Official ScratchJr Book, which lets them (as well as their parents and teachers) drill into the app and take things to a different level.

Unlike the app, this physical book isn’t free and costs around £13 from various app stores, the Kindle edition being slightly cheaper. It is, however, worth that small investment. Getting teenagers to code is a Herculean task because for many it is perceived as extra maths or even difficult algebra; timing is key if they are to maintain an interest.

By working with them at any time for the five years before teenhood with books such as these means there is an above-average chance they will go with the coding flow. If they don’t, then by the time they leave their teenage years the world may have no use for them if they cannot code. That is the New Normal, it doesn’t even ‘scratch’ the surface of how important this skill, even art, is going to be.

TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon winner Hiboo steps up

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Hackathon winners sometimes flatter to deceive, but Hiboo, the messaging company that won the 2014 TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon in London, has launched its first completed product in the App Store.

Available since the end of January, its messaging app lets users see what their friends are typing while they’re typing, which the company says means they can communicate at the ‘speed of thought’. It also means that friends can’t edit their thoughts; you can see every word. It’s the end of ellipsis as we knew it.

In 2014, Hiboo won out of a field of more than 750 developers who took part in the TechCrunch hackathon. The beta version was launched at the Dublin Websummit in Nov 2015 and is now available for download. Its launch comes at a time when the messaging industry is becoming more niche and private (if reading through your friends’ thoughts can be described as private).

Other companies such as Palringo concentrate on games as a way of engaging their customer base while WeChat, Line, Kik, KakaoTalk, Reel Messenger and Wire are all interesting chat networks that are at various stages of development.

Hiboo is the newcomer on the block that will attempt to build user acquisition as quickly as possible and, like the companies mentioned above, will then leverage that user base to offer other integrated services. It will be interesting to see if they can do it; but the opposition is large and smart, it won’t be easy.

Sumo Digital now in Pune, Sheffield… and Nottingham

sumoI like the people at Sumo Digital after meeting them at a conference in Pune last quarter, a really smart independent games developer, currently working on a range of AAA titles such as Crackdown 3

While Nottingham is not as glamorous as their office in Pune, choosing the city as the third location for its games studio is further proof of the company’s expansion. Opening in March 2016, Sumo Nottingham will work alongside the Sheffield and India studios on a mix of projects and R & D. Beginning with a select group of newly hired employees and staff from the Sheffield HQ, Sumo is actively recruiting to grow the Nottingham team to 50 people in the first 12 months
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“Opening the new Sumo studio proves how serious we are about extending our core capabilities to both better serve our AAA client base and reflect our ambition to explore new opportunities across console, PC, mobile and VR,” said Carl Cavers, Sumo Digital SEO.

Sumo Digital employs 280 staff developing games across all platforms and genres. Known for its versatility, proprietary technology, creativity and high Metacritic, Sumo Digital’s portfolio of games includes Little Big Planet 3, Sonic All Stars Racing Transformed, Forza Horizon 2 – Fast & Furious and Disney Infinity. The studio is also developing Crackdown 3 in collaboration with Reagent and Microsoft.

At the 2013 TIGA Game Awards, the company won Best Arcade Game (Large Studio) and Outstanding Leadership Awards and in 2015 won a prestigious DICE Award for ‘Best Family Game’ and 3 gongs at the TIGA Awards for ‘Best Social Game’ (Little Big Planet 3), UK Heritage Award and Outstanding Individual for CEO Carl Cavers.

150-WORD BOOK REVIEW: The Rift by Alex Perry

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The author of The Rift is a white man who knows Africa and who made his living writing for Time magazine.

Alex Perry knows his subject and chronicles the changing times of the continent as well as the extraordinary Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuściński.

Praise indeed, but deserved. His anger at the way Africa is portrayed, and the aid organisations who almost profiteer from their involvement, is measured and volcanic at the same time. What he offers is an alternative view to the way Western media belittles the land-where-humans-were-created.

There was one personal bum note, however, with The Rift. Two years ago I received the biggest ovation of my life at a conference in Kenya when I derided the so-called Silicon Savannah moniker foisted on Nairobi’s tech hub and told the African audience they had no need to be compared to Silicon Valley.

Unfortunately, it appears that Perry was the person who coined this phrase, so on that subject we shall agree to differ. On the rest of it, we agree completely and this is an important book that should be read by anybody who wants to get a feel on what is happening in Africa. I loved reading it.

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