Saturday, October 18, 2014

Microsoft, Minecraft and Mojang: Here's How to Make Sense of Microsoft's $2.5B Purchase

Minecraft Kokeshi
Janine "I

ris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

After some speculation, it's official: Microsoft has purchased voxel-based sandbox game Minecraft for $2.5 billion. Maybe that makes perfect sense to you and maybe it doesn't. This past weekend as we discussed the massive purchase, my mother asked my why on earth Microsoft would want to buy Minecraft for anything approaching that much money. My answer? That it might be better to think of it in terms of why a company might want to buy Barbie or Lego. They're monolithic brands; highly recognizable, widely available and beloved by huge swathes of customers, both young and old. There are already teenagers who look at Minecraft with nostalgia right alongside people experiencing it for the very first time. It's a cultural touchstone.

But there's more to it than that. If you break this purchase down into its most basic economic terms, as analyst Michael Pachter did at GamesBeat 2014, it makes perfect sense. Polygon's Owen Good has picked the juiciest bits out of Pachter's comments on Microsoft's acquisition of Minecraft, and summarizes the issue succinctly:

Essentially, Microsoft expects to make more money from Minecraft than it would make if that $2.5 billion sat in the bank for a year and generated $25 million in interest. And yes, given the sales of the game — which just launched on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 — not to mention the merchandise licensing that Minecraft has seen to date, $25 million sounds like a very, very doable number.

For more, be sure to read Good's full piece on Polygon, or go straight to the source andwatch the archive of Pachter's GamesBeat talk over on Twitch.

B-Schools Finally Acknowledge: Companies Want MBAs Who Can Code

Companies want to hire technically skilled MBAs, and business schools are finally starting to get it. MBA programs equip students with management techniques, accounting skills, and increasingly, entrepreneurship chops. Some top programs, however, believe MBA should learn to code.
Harvard Business School is planning to offer a computer programming elective within a couple of years, says Paul Gompers, who chairs the MBA elective curriculum. Students  have formed coding clubs, and dozens go “across the river” to take the introductory computer science class at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. But professors need to tailor a course specifically to business students in Boston, says Gompers.
“This is the changing nature of the workforce, and this is what our graduates are going on to be doing in the next five to 10 to 20 years.”
Elite MBA programs have been slow to adapt, even though plenty of schools started specialized master’s programs in big data and analytics. A pair of springtime reports by the Graduate Management Admission Council revealed a disconnect between the skills MBA programs give students and what employers want. While recent graduates (PDF) said they learned the least about “technology, design, etc.” and “managing tools and technology” out of any other skills in B-schools, U.S. employers said they coveted (PDF) “technical and quantitative skills” third out of 10 criteria.
“We’ve got a lot of MBAs graduating and going off to be high-tech product managers. If you look at that world, there are a bunch of big tech companies that insist that anyone in that role be technical—understand code well enough to read it and write it,” says Thomas Eisenmann, an HBS professor who teaches a course on product management.
Companies don’t want an army of programmers from B-schools—they can recruit from computer science programs for that—but they need managers who know the basics of code to work with technical staff. To be a product manager at Amazon(AMZN), for instance, MBAs need to “dive into data and be technically conversant,” says Miriam Park, director of university programs at the company.
At New York University’s Stern School of Business, economics professor David Backus plans to start a course that will teach students how to visualize data and use the programming language, Python. “I’ve talked to people I know at other B-schools and they haven’t heard of anything really like this. It’s surprising,” he says.
Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, a B-school with a reputation as a tech powerhouse, has no coding classes. Students have been able to take computer science courses at the university since fall 2012; Madhav Rajan, the business school’s senior associate dean for academic affairs, says this obviates the need for a focus on coding. Last year, the B-school and the School of Engineering launched ajoint degree that confers an MBA and an MS in computer science.
One downside of learning to code at B-school: Coding is hard. HBS students who took the university’s introductory computer science course said that they spent 16.3 hours a week on the course, which is “2-3 [times] more time than they would spend on an MBA elective that yielded equivalent academic credit,” wrote Eisenmann in a Harvard Business Review blog post last fall.
Backus says schools should make coding electives available but avoid requiring them so that MBAs don’t feel burdened. “Students could get annoyed at you and think it’s too hard.”

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Record Breaking Number of students enroll in Harvards Computer Science Class 

This why I am teaching C# programming using the Unity3D program to get my students started in computer programming

Nearly 12 percent of Harvard College is enrolled in a single course, according to data released by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Registrar’s Office on Wednesday.

The course, Computer Science 50: “Introduction to Computer Science I,” attracted a record-breaking 818 undergraduates this semester, marking the largest number in the course’s 30-year history and the largest class offered at the College in the last five years, according to the Registrar’s website. Including non-College students, the enrollment number totals 875.