Enjoy these Foolish reads to satisfy your curiosity for life, business, and investing!
These travel agents are cashing in on the final frontier
From Fortune.com's Caroline Fairchild, is Richard Branson's consumer and commercial space travel business, Virgin Galactic, the key to the future of travel agents across the world (and beyond...)?:
Virtuoso [Virgin's travel agency] has 56 "accredited space agents," or ASAs, that help customers through the complicated process -- medical tests, spousal approval, regular updates on the program's progress -- of signing up for Virgin Galactic. Although the company's commercial operations have not yet begun, Virgin Galactic plans to send six passengers at a time on suborbital space flights as early as this year.
"I work for the future astronauts, not for Virgin Galactic," said Jay Johnson, a Virgin Galactic ASA and the president of a Virtuoso member agency. "I don't sugar-coat anything. I just keep them motivated. My number one concern is to keep the customer happy and if they have any concerns I help them address them."
How solar field developers are already putting Google Glass to good use
Every day its seems there is a new and innovative application for Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) pioneering technology Glass, many beyond the novelty of snapping pics and live streaming your life to your friends. Clean Technica reports how one company, Sullivan Solar Power, is handing out pairs of Glass to field technicians installing solar panels.
Michael Chagala, the director of IT at the solar power company, has designed an application for Google Glass that allows the field techs to access customer records, job site data and inventory information. The field techs can also send live video of the structures and roofs they are working on back to the office if they want some input. Of course, they can also phone the office using the high-tech eye wear as well. (When paired with a mobile phone, Google Glass can make and receive calls via voice commands.) Hands-free communication is great for field work because a worker may need to steady or balance himself on a roof when winds are blowing strongly or simply hang onto something stable.
Of course, Google is what it is because of its successful bets on game-changing technology, processes, and platforms. So it's telling that Google also announced this week that its doubling down on the "Internet of Things."
Nest Labs sells to Google for $3.2 billion.
Google this week bought Nest Labs, the maker of sleekly designed and Internet-connected home thermostats and fire alarms, for $3.2 billion in cash (about 5% of Google's total cash hoard). Dan Primack has the exclusive interview with Nest CEO Tony Fadell:
Fortune: Why did you choose to sell the company?
Fadell: Most companies have 2 paths: They either can stay independent or they can join forces with another company and get absorbed into it. Google made a very strong pitch for how we could have all the resources of a large company while retaining the independence of a next-generation Nest.
That's what sold the management team at the end of the day. Most of us have been inside of a large company before and understand what large company scale applied directly can do to help create a world-class business. For us to spend more time building non-differentiated infrastructure rather than focus on products and services -- which is what we do best -- doesn't make sense. This allows us to accelerate and stay in front of the coming wave of products for what we like to call the conscious home.
With these technologies rapidly becoming part of everyday reality, the future will certainly be an interesting place. Fool on!
There's a war going on for your living room, and Google is just the tip of the iceberg
You know cable's going away. But do you know how to profit? There's $2.2 trillion out there to be had. Currently, cable grabs a big piece of it. That won't last. And when cable falters, three companies are poised to benefit. Click here for their names. Hint: They're not Netflix, Google, and Apple.