Future of Wi-Fi

Imagine never having to worry about a Wi-Fi signal again. Steve Perlman, founder of Artemis Networks, has a plan to make that dream a reality.

When Steve Perlman first began developing the pWave in 2002, YouTube didn’t exist, the iPhone was still a few years away, and there was no such thing as Netflix streaming. And yet Perlman predicted that within a decade, personal data usage would lead to a massive wireless capacity issue. He was right.

Right now, wireless networks cover every mobile device in a given radius. In the age of Skype, FaceTime, and viral cat videos, these networks are tremendously strained. And because they have to be organized in a specific pattern, to avoid interference, adding more antennas only exacerbates the problem.

The pWave, an invention of Perlman’s San Francisco-based startup Artemis Networks, changes all that. Using complex mathematical algorithms, this novel antenna transmits a unique signal to every phone, giving everyone a personal network. Instead of interfering, the waves transmitted from the pWave actually work together, meaning there’s no limit to the number of antennas that can be installed in a city. And because pWave doesn’t require costly LTE technology, it could potentially lead to a new generation of cheap smartphones.

“It turned out to be a way bigger breakthrough than we ever thought it would be,” says Perlman, who plans to license the technology both to carriers and to entrepreneurs.

Of course, like most inventors of breakthrough technologies, Perlman was met mostly with doubt when he pitched the idea to his colleagues in the industry. “I was at times quite skeptical, but he always came up with the right anwers,” says Pieter van Rooyen, a fellow telecom entrepreneur, who sold his wireless technology company to Broadcom for $100 million. What turned van Rooyen into a believer, her says, was the fact that Perlman developed the technology to be compatible with current LTE technology. “That’s the key here,” he says.

Perhaps the most impressive part of Perlman’s decade long quest? He financed it himself. “In the early days, investors laughed at us,” he says, adding that now he’s being bombarded with investor interest. “We just say thanks, but at this point, we’re no longer interested.”

Top 5 Business Books

Through most of the past decade, the most popular business books were “How I Did It” autobiographies of successful big-company CEOs, like Jack Welch’s Winning. But that’s no longer true.

Rather than seeing big companies (especially in the financial industry) as percolators and role models, business readers now tend to view such firms as corrupt and parasitical, along with the people who run them.

As a result, 2012 was the year of the exposé. Here are the best five of the year, IMHO.

Twilight of the Elites

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In this book, author Christopher Hayes attacks what’s arguably the most persistent myth in the business world: that the workplace is a meritocracy. Using examples from business, politics, and sports, he shows how and why power and privilege entrenches itself, locking out innovation and new talent.

  • Full Title: Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy
  • Author: Christopher Hayes
  • Publisher: Crown

Exposure

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This fascinating document shows how even a CEO can run up against corruption and incompetence. In most cases, CEOs play along until they can leave with a big severance package. By contrast, the erstwhile CEO of Olympus went public with his experiences, providing a fascinating view of corporate politics at its very worst.

  • Full Title: Exposure: Inside the Olympus Scandal: How I Went from CEO to Whistleblower
  • Author: Michael Woodford
  • Publisher: Porfolio Hardcover

The Payoff

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You’d think that after destroying the world’s economy with dodgy trades and double-dealing, at least somebody (other than the taxpayer) who was responsible might get thrown in jail. But you’d think wrong because Wall Street essentially “owns” both political parties, thereby making accountability impossible.

  • Full Title: The Payoff: Why Wall Street Always Wins
  • Author: Jeff Connaughton
  • Publisher: Prospecta Press

Why I Left Goldman Sachs

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I remember reading the author’s op-ed in the New York Times and thinking “This guy just wrote his career obituary.” Fortunately for him, his follow-up book about his experience has become a bestseller, and rightly so. His anecdotes illustrate a world that’s as different from the world of small business as the surface of Mars.

  • Full Title: Why I Left Goldman Sachs: A Wall Street Story
  • Author: Greg Smith
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Bailout

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This book brings the perspective of a lawyer and prosecutor to the challenge of holding financial executives responsible for the economic meltdown of 2008. He explains exactly how the Obama administration helped bankers game the system and make huge profits (with no risk) at the expense of the taxpaying public.

  • Full Title:Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street
  • Author: Neil Barofsky
  • Publisher: Free Press

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