Samsung Jay-Z Pair Up, Knewton Houghton Mifflin to Revolutionize Teaching, $rev Entices App Developers, Jimmy Fund Scooper Bowl


Top Story: Samsung and Jay-Z to Join in Multi-million Partnership


What happens when two superpowers from different industries pair up? We are about to find out. American rapper, record producer, and entrepreneur Jay-Z and Samsung, the current leader in the smartphone market, are said to be in talks over a $20 million collaboration deal.

The massive deal reportedly involves a streaming music service. Whatever the terms may be, the deal is a massive move for a man who once famously asserted, “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man.”

This seems to be just one in a number of power moves Jay-Z has been making lately. Apart from dissolving his share in the Brooklyn Nets to establish talent agency Roc Nation Sports, moving his record label Roc Nation from Sony to Universal Music Group, and launching Philadelphia music festival Made in America, Jay-Z also managed to make time for executive producing the soundtrack to blockbuster movie The Great Gatsby.

However, celebrity brand partnerships do not always pan out. Remember how Grammy-award winning singer Alicia Keys signed on to be Blackberry’s global creative ambassador and tweeted out the news via her iphone? Not to mention, the music streaming space is pretty crowded as of late.

Why might this collaboration work?

The tech giant and rap mogul both exemplify the rags to riches narrative. Samsung started out as a business selling food to China while Jay-Z started out “moving snowflakes by the O-Z.”

Both are not afraid to back down from a fight. Growing up in Brooklyn and making his name in the rap game, Jay-Z has had his share of tough times and confrontations. And who can forget what Samsung was up against before coming out on top as the company with the most smartphone sales.

Both are used to being challenged on the basis of intellectual property. While Jay-Z was feuding with the likes of Nas, Samsung was facing its own battle with Apple in federal court.

Only time will tell what may come of this partnership. Samsung will host an event in London on June 20 – perhaps we will get a taste then.

What do you think of this partnership?


Tool of the Week: Knewton and Houghton Mifflin Team Up to Pioneer Teaching


Knewton, an adaptive learning company, has partnered up with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to bring online education to millions of students (about 5 million by the end of the year to be exact). Knewton’s technology features a software program that tells teachers and parents what the student knows “down to a percentile”.

The technology works by dividing lessons into building blocks and subsequently, measuring the students’ performances as they process the information. The company’s vision is to help teachers deal with large classroom sizes in order to more effectively tailor lessons to the needs of each individual student.

The company’s first program will be a “personal math trainer”, which will allow HMH to gain a better understanding of how well students in each age group learn math best. The software has been tested at the university level as well. Arizona State University, University of Alabama, and the University of Nevada have all experienced improved pass rates, accelerated completion time, and reduced dropout rates as a result of using Knewton-powered versions of online remedial math courses.

However, as with any new education-based technology, Knewton must overcome obstacles such as teacher training, basic connectivity, and hardware costs. Furthermore, there is the issue of privacy.

Adaptive learning involves a private company gathering and aggregating detailed and sensitive information about children’s identities as well as their mental capacities, aptitudes, and weaknesses. Knewton and HMH have promised to protect students’ personally identifiable information, but some of the details regarding this issue remain to be settled.

Knewton and HMH hope to be at the forefront of a new way of teaching. By teaming up with HMH, Knewton can maximize core curriculum materials that are widely used in schools. According to Knewton’s CEO Jose Ferreira, the company’s overall goal is to create the world’s most valuable repository on how people learn, and with $54 million raised in funding, they are well on their way to do so.

What do you think of this new way of teaching? Would you want your schools to use this software program?


Under the Radar: Box Launches $rev to Entice App Developers


Online business data storage and management company Box launches the “$rev” program, a plan to incentivize developers to produce apps that paying customers will like. The program involves Box splitting revenues with its app developers, which the company hopes will result in higher customer satisfaction rates. According to Box’s VP, Chris Yeh, “it’s all about how users are enjoying our products and using them or not.”

The $rev system will generate revenue for the developers based on app usage rather than sales. Box will end up paying its developers 15% of a Box seat price, which amounts to the monthly fee a user pays to use Box. The system differs from other app stores’ software-as-a-service providers. Google Apps Marketplace asks app vendors to pay $100 up front, and that’ all. On the other hand, Box’s model goes beyond the simple pay-per-download by rewarding partners based on a detailed analysis of which add-ons are actually being used.

The goal is for Box to integrate and partner with developers as well as reward higher-quality enterprise app development. The company hopes to make it easier for mobile developers to come up with apps for iOs and Android software-development kits that include codes for key functions such as accessing files within Box and implementing single-sign-on support. Box has managed to increase its number of enterprise developers from the low thousands to more than 25,000 in the past two years. OneCloud, Box’s mobile cloud hub that allows users to work in any of the platform’s apps, now has more than 500 apps as a result of Box’s new partnership with developers.

Do you think this will be a successful venture? What apps do you hope will come through this program?


Around the Hub: Jimmy Fund Scooper Bowl


Each year, Government Center is the host to the ever popular all-you-can-eat ice cream event, the Scooper Bowl.  Each year the event raises money for the Jimmy Fund, the fundraising subset of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

In its 31st year, the Scooper Bowl is still a widely loved summer activity throughout Boston. This year’s sunny weather and gracious volunteers made it successful as ever. Over $450,000 was raised during this year’s event for cancer research, making it the most successful year in history. To date, the event has raised more than $3 million.


This is the nation’s largest event of its kind, lasting for 3 days and scooping out more than 20 tons of creamy goodness, donated by 8 local and national brands.

One of the most popular flavors this year was Hood’s fan favorite, Mystic White Gold. Some of the wackier flavors included cotton candy infused with pop-rocks, cake frosting, and several stellar appearances from the newly popular greek frozen yogurt family.


People throughout the area were raving about the event on Twitter. With over 50,000 participants, the Scooper Bowl will continue to be a celebration in Boston for years to come.

Did you attend the Scooper Bowl? Which was your favorite flavor?