Glasswing Ventures announces Connect Council

When I first heard about the Connect Council, I was intrigued. I knew Rudina Seseri and Glasswing Ventures, and knew they didn’t have a reputation for doing things half way. When I heard about the mission of the Connect Council and the people involved, I was more than intrigued, I was impressed. What follows is a quick Q&A with Rudina about the council.

What is the Connect Council?

It is the first of three advisory councils to support and extend Glasswing Ventures’ investment strategy. Collectively, these councils bring together 40 renowned entrepreneurs and technologists, AI visionaries, and world-leading executives to exclusively advise and support the firm and its portfolio companies. The Connect Council is a critical part of the Glasswing Ventures’ DNA, extending our strength in providing AI expertise and advice exponentially amplifying the firm’s and our portfolio companies’ competitive edge. The Connect Council is comprised of two working groups: the AI & Academic Group, and the Business Leadership Group. Today, we are announcing the AI & Academic Group.

Who is on it? 

A group of extraordinary individuals who have been lending their support to us since the founding of Glasswing over 18 months ago – we are grateful to them and very happy to announce that the members of the Glasswing’s Connect Council – the AI & Academic Group include:

  • Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, Professor at MIT and Oxford University and winner of the ACM A.M. Turing Prize
  • Dr. Brad Berens, Chief ‫Strategy Officer at the Center for the Digital Future at USC Annenberg and Principal at Big Digital Idea Consulting
  • Dr. Cynthia Breazeal, Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at MIT, Founder and Chief Scientist of Jibo, Inc.
  • Dr. Thomas R. Eisenmann, Howard H. Stevenson Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, Faculty Co-Chair of the HBS Rock Center for Entrepreneurship
  • Dr. Alex ‘Sandy’ Pentland, MIT Professor and Media Lab Entrepreneurship Program Director
  • Dr. Manuela Veloso, Herbert A. Simon University Professor and Head of Machine Learning Department at Carnegie Mellon University
  • Dr. Peter Weinstock, Executive Director and Anesthesia Endowed Chair of the Boston Children’s Hospital Simulator Program and Associate Professor of Anesthesia at Harvard Medical School

Why did you start it? 

We started the Councils as we know that they can bring tremendous scale to the firm as we help harness the positive potential of AI across industries and markets.  Because the Connect Council is a collaborative and vibrant body composed of the most influential thought leaders and innovators in academia and AI technology today — our team, our founders and portfolio companies, gain access to a brilliant collective of luminaries at the forefront of AI and innovation, who are committed to fueling its success and growth.  These visionaries have extensive experience across AI, academia, startups and Fortune 500 companies. They are the catalysts in extending our reach, supporting our portfolio companies and advising us, and helping Glasswing become a cornerstone of the AI ecosystem. They also play a pivotal role in helping bring AI to its full potential in the broader ecosystem and society at large.

What do you hope to accomplish with it? 

Our council members are a resource for candid views and discussions about new technology trends, opportunities and talent in AI – they aren’t just big names and faces on a website. We won’t agree all of the time — and that’s exactly what we hope for. In fact, it’s beautiful when we brainstorm together, as that is when the best outcomes emerge. Our portfolio startups, and many more in the ecosystem, will be able to benefit first-hand from these brainstorms and the brilliance and experience of our advisors.

We have a symbiotic relationship with our advisory council members. They enhance the value we add to founders and companies, well beyond smart capital. At the same time, through their affiliation with Glasswing, they are part of a platform that is developing and shaping the next generation of AI leaders and technology companies. It is because of this mutually beneficial dynamic that our advisors work with us on an exclusive basis.

How will you know if it is working? Any metrics you are tracking? 

Our Connect Council members are catalysts in extending our reach, supporting our portfolio companies and advising us, and helping Glasswing become a cornerstone of the AI ecosystem. They also play a pivotal role in helping bring AI to its full potential in the broader ecosystem and society at large. Being as exclusive and engaged as they are, their inbounds — whether it is bringing in a unique deal flow or helping with diligence or key talent are part of the tremendous value they bring to us.

Is AI really as big as the hype suggests? 

Artificial Intelligence has been at the forefront of tech innovation for some time, but 2017 has been the year in which it has truly taken center stage. In a world of pervasive connectivity, AI is essential to harnessing the power of data. Companies have to create an AI advantage to survive — Google, Facebook, Amazon and countless startups know this and are betting their businesses on it – in fact, startups are becoming major value creators.

AI is already changing many aspects of our daily lives both at home and at work. However, this is just the start. AI is steadily and pervasively redefining our relationship with technology, enhancing human capacity and, fundamentally, how we live. It is big – and it’s going to be bigger than we imagined it.

Rudina Seseri is founder and managing partner at Glasswing Ventures. With over 15 years of investing and transactional experience, Rudina has led technology investments and acquisitions in startup companies in the fields of robotics, Internet of Things (IoT), SaaS marketing technologies and digital media. Rudina’s portfolio investments include Talla, Celtra, CrowdTwist, Jibo and SocialFlow. Rudina has been appointed by the Dean of the Harvard Business School (HBS) for a fourth consecutive year to serve as Entrepreneur-In-Residence for the Business School and as Executive-In-Residence for Harvard University’s innovation-Lab. She is also a Member of the Business Leadership Council of Wellesley College. Rudina also serves as Advisor for L’Oreal USA Women in Digital, as Director on the Board of the Massachusetts Innovation and Technology Exchange (MITX) and on the Board of Overseers for Boston Children’s Hospital. She has been named a 2017 Boston Business Journal Power 50: Newsmaker, a 2014 Women to Watch honoree by Mass High Tech and a 2011 Boston Business Journal 40-under-40 honoree for her professional accomplishments and community involvement. She graduated magna cum laude from Wellesley College with a BA in Economics and International Relations and with an MBA from the Harvard Business School (HBS). She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Omicron Delta Epsilon honor societies.

OAPs to be given Samsung Galaxy tablets to SKYPE carers after cash-strapped council scraps home visits

A CASH-STRAPPED council is handing out high-end Samsung Galaxy tablets in a bid to make sick pensioners SKYPE their carers instead of receiving a home visit.

Up to 40 OAPs in Essex will be handed top-of-the-range 4G Samsung Galaxy tablets as part of the madcap scheme.

 Up to 40 Essex OAPs will receive top-of-the-range computer tablets as part of the trial

SWNS:South West News Service

Up to 40 Essex OAPs will receive top-of-the-range computer tablets as part of the trial

Last night Essex County Council bosses insisted the trial, run in partnership with Essex Cared LTD, will provide “a more convenient and prove a less intrusive method of interacting with a care worker, friends and family.”

But top GP Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard blasted: “What these patients need is someone to listen to them and to find purpose in life.

“GPs see patients, many of whom are widowed, who have multiple health problems like diabetes, hypertension and depression, but often their main problem isn’t medical, they’re lonely.

An estimated 1.1 million OAPs are chronically lonely in the UK, and lonely people are more likely to develop serious conditions like heart disease, depression and dementia.

Cliff Rich, CEO of Contact the Elderly added: “We gladly recognise the amazing strides modern technology has made in helping all of us, and especially older people, with staying in touch with family and friends who may live too far away to visit in person.

 Critics say the scheme will rob lonely pensioners of vital face-to-face contact

SWNS:South West News Service

Critics say the scheme will rob lonely pensioners of vital face-to-face contact

“However, we still believe that nothing can replace the essential human need for face-to-face interaction.”

John Spence, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, said: “It is important that we keep pace with new technology.

“I am pleased that Essex is trialling this system to have a positive impact on people’s lives.

“It will allow our vulnerable adults to live independently, providing them with something that is accessible from the comfort of their own homes.”

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Trump’s Space Council Head is a SpaceX Skeptic

The administration of President Donald Trump revived the National Space Council earlier this year after a 24-year absence, but what it will actually do remains cloudy. Besides the slightly strange, repeated remarks about going back to the moon, the administration also wants to empower the commercial sector and give the private spaceflight industry more influence and presence over what the nation as a whole does with space. Trump’s resurrection of the National Space Council is supposed to be a conduit in which companies like SpaceX can wield more influence over the shape of U.S. space policy.

So it’s a bit odd that Trump turned to Scott Pace, the director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, to lead the new NSC. That’s because Pace has a track record of skepticism for having NASA turn over projects the commercial sector, specifically SpaceX.

In a new review of the developing private space industry, CQ Press published some interesting quotes from Pace in which he describes some of his thoughts on Musk and his company. “Elon Musk sat in my office in 2002 and told me he’d have 10 launches a year by 2006,” Pace said. “I’m still looking at my watch.”

As reported by Ars Technica, Pace made that comment this year — in what is almost certainly the most successful period of SpaceX’s history. The company is on track for an 11th successful launch in just a few days.

Pace conceded to Ars Technica SpaceX has proven itself a capable spaceflight party. “That comment is accurate and it was true for years,” he said. “In 2017, it became obsolete—which was an outstanding achievement for SpaceX.”

Part of Pace’s doubts seem to stem from how badly SpaceX has managed to meet so many of its deadlines over the last decade. Nowhere is this clearer than in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, in which SpaceX (along with Boeing) are developing commercial spaceflight vehicles to allow the United States to once again use American spacecraft to send astronauts to the International Space Station and low Earth orbit.

Those vehicles were supposed to be ready for human spaceflight years ago. It’s 2017 and we’re still waiting.

In general, the CQ Press report emphasizes Pace’s preference for a slower, more methodical approach to spaceflight development. Pace has never been a strong supporter of the Commercial Crew Program, and was not shy of criticizing the Obama administration for pushing forward such a plan.

“I think [the CCP] is somewhat dangerous,” he said in 2012. “Accelerating the rules means that you will be taking risks by potentially putting people or high value cargo on before you’ve established a real track record. And I think that’s the approach that has a lot of people worried, particularly those of us who remember the results of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board.”

It’s unclear to what extent Pace might come into the NSC with a fresh perspective and work to move forward Trump’s desire to see the commercial industry play a larger role in U.S space policy, or whether Pace may situate himself as a dissenting voice which tries to slow things down.

Photos via Flickr / MediaGamut

Advice for the National Space Council from Policy Insiders

Marcia S. Smith

Now that President Trump has announced his intent to appoint Scott Pace as Executive Director of the newly reconstituted National Space Council, advice is pouring in on what issues it should tackle and the challenges ahead.

At a seminar Friday sponsored by the Aerospace Corporation and George Washington University’s Space Policy Institute — which Pace currently heads — Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX) and two panels of experts offered their views on the Space Council and other topics.  The White House announcement came the evening before the seminar began.  While Pace was widely rumored to be the top choice, the timing caught many by surprise. The seminar’s topic, however, Ensuring U.S. Space Leadership, lent itself to the breaking development.

The National Space Council has existed in law since the FY1989 NASA Authorization Act. (A predecessor National Aeronautics and Space Council was created in the 1958 law that established NASA, but was disbanded by President Nixon in 1973).  President George H.W. Bush issued an Executive Order standing up the organization in April 1989 with Vice President Dan Quayle as its chair.  After his term ended in 1993, however, no President has chosen to fund or staff the office until now.  President Trump signed an Executive Order on June 30 reestablishing the Council within the Executive Office of the President (EOP) with Vice President Mike Pence as its chairman.

In the Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama Administrations, space policy was developed in the EOP through interagency processes led by the National Security Council (NSC) and the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).  The Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which formulates the President’s budget request to Congress and oversees how agencies spend money appropriated by Congress, is also part of the EOP.

The two panels at Friday’s seminar encompassed six EOP space policy veterans.  From the NSC: Gil Kilnger (George W. Bush), Peter Marquez (George W. Bush and Obama), and Chirag Parikh (Obama).  From OSTP:  Richard DalBello (Clinton, Obama), Damon Wells (George W. Bush, Obama), and Ben Roberts (Obama). All but Roberts continue to work on space in industry or government — Harris, Planetary Resources, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), Virgin Galactic, and the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), respectively — though all were speaking in their private capacities. The group is very collegial and offered good-natured advice and ribbing about the challenges Pace will confront, while seriously addressing both structural and policy issues that need to be solved.

Joining them were former Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley and former Commander of U.S. Strategic Command Gen. C. Robert Kehler (Ret) who also offered their views on the proposal to form a Space Corps within the Air Force, an idea they oppose.  Babin chairs the Space Subcommittee of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee and gave a comprehensive keynote address that included the key issues he thinks the Space Council should address.

Many of the comments from the White House policy veterans focused on the inner workings of the EOP and the challenges of dealing with complex policy issues with just one person at the NSC assigned to work on space issues and perhaps one or two at OSTP.  The prevailing view was that reestablishing the Space Council would help because it presumably will have a few more staff than that and, with the Vice President as chairman, raising these issues to higher levels in the White House will be easier.

Roberts, who left OSTP in March after nine years in the EOP (the first seven at OMB) conceded that he was skeptical when he first heard that the Space Council would be reestablished because the OSTP/NSC model was working quite well.   He has changed his mind because it is not clear how President Trump will staff or utilize OSTP.  No science advisor has been nominated and most of the staff has departed with no replacements in sight.  Obama’s OSTP Director and Science Adviser John Holdren had “a lot of clout” with the President on civil and commercial space issues, Roberts said. With that model now in doubt, he views the Space Council, reporting directly to the Vice President, as a positive development.

Parikh pointed out that one missing element of the Executive Order reestabllshing the Council, however, is that no line is drawn among OSTP, NSC and OMB.  The NSC and OSTP staff can write policies, “but it you’re not linked with the budget officials” the policies may not be executable.  For example, when Obama’s National Space Policy was issued in 2010 the policy community recognized the need for more investment in space security, but funding was not made available until 6 years later.  He lamented that too much time is spent worrying about where to place a comma while forgetting about the budgetary spreadsheets.

Wells and DalBello agreed the challenge is implementation.  “Policy is aspirational goals,” said Wells. but it is only after the policy is released “that the fun begins” in obtaining budgetary resources and harmonizng policy and regulatory frameworks.  Calling the space policy process “self congratulatory,” DalBello said it falls short in getting the necessary interagency commitments to translate policy into workable budgets as well as in reaching out to Congress.  Congress needs to appropriate the money and in some cases set policy in law. 

More broadly, Klinger stressed that the single most critical issue is whether the rate at which the United States is adapting and changing its space policy and capabilities matches the rate of change in threats and opportunities.  “If yes, we’re in the game.  If not, we are at risk of looking like the dinosaurs in the Gary Larson cartoon.”

Klinger, Parikh and DalBello all mentioned the soft power value of the space program on the global stage.  DalBello urged that whatever human spaceflight goals are chosen be “articulated in an international context.”  Whether in human spaceflight or space traffic management or other areas, the United States needs to “align our interests with other nations.”

One benefit that many see to a Space Council is that it can deal with issues on a cross-cutting basis rather than stovepiped into the civil, commercial, and national security sectors.  Babin discussed five issues he believes would benefit from a “holistic” review by the Space Council:  space transportation, satellite servicing, weather, space weather, and space situational awareness. He offered his own views and solutions, some of which are reflected in the American Space Commerce Free Enterprise Act that was approved by the committee last month, but also believes an “appropriately constituted” Space Council “can provide a leadership role in synergizing” many of these issues.  He cautioned, however, that if the Space Council does not get “buy-in” from the NSC, OMB and OSTP, “it could simply become another layer of bureaucracy.”

For his own part, Pace noted that he was the Department of Commerce’s representative to the George H.W. Bush Administration’s National Space Council and remarked on how much has changed in aerospace in the intervening decades.  The Council is being “reincarnated” in an era of “democratization and globalization” where the private sector “is changing the rules of the game.” 

Although it dealt with a wide variety of issues, the earlier Space Council is probably best remembered for the tense relationship it had with NASA, which eventually led to the firing of NASA Administrator Richard Truly and his replacement by Dan Goldin.  

Pace stressed in an op-ed published in the March 14, 2017 issue of The Hill that the Space Council’s purpose is not to supervise NASA.  Pace was NASA’s Associate Administrator for Program Analysis and Evaluation when Mike Griffin was Administrator in the second George W. Bush term, so has seen the process from that side.   The “White House does not, and never has, needed a space council to supervise NASA, but it does need a way to combine the separate strands of national security space programs, diplomatic engagement, commercial competition and civil space cooperation with a unity of national purpose and effort.”

That opinion was shared by participants in the seminar.  As Marquez said, it is “not a NASA council” but is “about national priorities, needs, and strategic imperatives.” has the right (but not the obligation) to monitor the comments and to remove any materials it deems inappropriate.  We do not post comments that include links to other websites since we have no control over that content nor can we verify the security of such links.

Space community lines up in support of National Space Council

WASHINGTON — Members of the space community, including those who have previously worked on space policy issues at the White House, are guardedly optimistic that the newly reconstituted National Space Council will help guide national space policy as it faces new challenges.

The role of the council, formally reestablished in a June 30 executive order by President Donald Trump, was the central theme of a July 14 symposium on U.S. space leadership held by George Washington University and the Aerospace Corporation here.

“When the space council was first rumored to be resurrected last fall, my initial reaction was somewhat skeptical,” said Ben Roberts, who worked on space issues at the Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Obama administration. “Over the last several months, I think I’ve become a lot more positive about the idea.”

He said the space council is particularly important now given the potentially diminished role of OSTP, which traditionally took the lead on civil and commercial space issues, in the Trump administration. The current administration has yet to name a director of the office, and many of its staff have left.

Even when both OSTP and the National Security Council (NSC) are fully staffed, though, only a few people work on space issues. “It’s hard to appreciate until you’re there how thinly staffed” those offices are on space, said Damon Wells, who previously worked on space issues at OSTP. The National Security Council had a single person working space issues, with only a couple at OSTP and the Office of Management and Budget. “And that was it. That’s who was working space in the White House.”

The space council will provide additional staff devoted to space policy, they and other panelists noted, as well as focus on various space issues. Having the vice president chair the council will also give it more influence. “It immediately gives you greater range in getting senior leadership involvement,” said Peter Marquez, former director of space policy on the NSC.

“The role of the vice president, I believe, will be critical in all of this,” said Richard DalBello, who worked on space issues at OSTP in both the Clinton and Obama administrations. The choice of the space council over other approaches, he said, was less critical than ensuring it is “properly aligned with the objectives of the White House.”

As for what issues the council should focus on, panelists and other attendees offered a wide range of civil, commercial and national security topics. However, they said it was key for the council to work on overarching issues. “A space council is not a NASA council,” said Marquez. “A space council is about national priorities, it’s abound national needs, it’s about strategic imperatives. It’s not just about guiding NASA.”

Gil Klinger, another former director of space policy on the NSC, said the growth in capabilities in commercial space, coupled with growing threats to U.S. space assets, warrant a review of what space capabilities remain relevant today. “Take a look at all of the things that comprise how we’ve done space for 60 years,” he said. “We are now obliged to ask ourselves what subset of those things that comprise how we’ve always done space remain relevant as we go forward.”

Some, while supporting the council, offered some notes of caution. Chirag Parikh, also a former director of space policy on the NSC, noted the executive order establish the space council did not describe the relationships it will have with offices like the NSC, OSTP and OMB. “Getting that figured out immediately is going to be critically important because that’s where the new administration’s policies will stem from,” he said.

Michael Donley, former secretary of the Air Force, said the space council will need to carefully choose what issues it takes on. “There are a lot of things that you could address, but you want to be relevant. You want to know when and why a decision is needed at the national level,” he said.

Retired Air Force Gen. Robert Kehler, former head of Strategic Command, said attention to space issues at the national level has been cyclical throughout the history of the space age. “The number one thing we need to make sure we have done is refocus our national-level thinking on space,” he said. “If a renewed space council does nothing else, then I think it was worth standing it up.”

Pace to be space council’s executive secretary

The event coincided with the announcement late July 13 by the White House that it intends to appoint Scott Pace as the executive secretary of the National Space Council, who will lead its day-to-day work.

Pace’s selection was widely expected, and warmly received, by those in government and industry. Currently the director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, Pace previously worked on space policy issues at several agencies, including NASA and OSTP.

“Like the space council itself, Scott Pace has a wide variety of experience and knowledge in both national security and civil space, making him the perfect candidate for this position,” said Mike Gold, chair of the FAA’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee. “The revived National Space Council is off to an excellent start.”

“Scott has devoted his career to space policy, and will bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to this role,” said Sandy Magnus, executive director of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, in a statement.

“Scott is a leader who will serve the National Space Council well,” said Alan Stern, chairman of the board of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, in a statement. “We look forward to working closely with Scott and the rest of the [council] to advance the United States space enterprise by leveraging the U.S. commercial space industry’s vision, investment, and innovation.”

Pace, in a brief interview at the event, said he expects to formally start working as executive secretary later this summer. Vice President Mike Pence said in a July 6 speech at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center that he planned on chairing the council’s first meeting by the end of the summer.

At the symposium, Pace also got some advice that went beyond policy issues that the space council may take up in the coming months. “You’re about to find that you have more friends than you realize,” said Courtney Stadd, who worked on the staff of the space council during the George H.W. Bush administration.