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01/11/2016

Michael Polanyi famously wrote that “We know more than we can tell.” By David Hammer, CEO and Founder, Emissary, I founded Emissary to serve those people and the businesses that need their help.

By David Hammer, CEO and Founder, Emissary

At the beginning of 2010, my manager at Google asked if I'd be interested in heading up a team to build out a Demand Side Platform.

“Sure,” I responded. “What's a Demand Side Platform?”

“Go figure it out,” he told me.

I knew it would be no easy task. The concept, a relatively recent one, was still evolving in the nascent programmatic advertising universe. There was nothing to find on the internet to explain it. Worse, nobody at Google seemed to know anything about it, nor did I know anyone outside the company who could help. So I went to conferences, trying to network my way to the answer. There, I was met with hand-wavey, generalist answers from others who clearly were as clueless as I was. Months after I started my research, answers remained incomplete at best.

Eventually (and luckily for me), Google acquired Invite Media, which employed some of the savviest folks I'd ever meet in the ad tech world. It was their insights that laid the foundation for our product. Still, I was left with a nagging question: Why was what I had gone through so difficult? My problem had a solution and some people knew what it was. Why hadn't I been able to find them?

Three years later, having acquired some useful knowledge and with Doubleclick Bid Manager on track to becoming a multi-billion-dollar product, I left Google to strike out on my own. But to where? Once again something nagged at me: I knew all this stuff about Google, about ad tech, about product management, but most of it wasn't germane to my day-to-day focus on starting a company. I was sure it would be useful to someone, but who?

Occasionally, of course, an opportunity to share presented itself. A venture capitalist wanted me to talk to a portfolio company about entering the DSP space. A friend of a friend picked my brain about an idea he was working on. I met with a distant cousin who wanted a job at Google. Each time I was happy to oblige, even though I had no intention of becoming a consultant or anything like one.

These conversations, however, actually taught me a few things.

First, what seemed really simple to me was totally inscrutable to others. I was continuously amazed to discover that what I had to offer was of such value—it all was so basic to me. I didn't need to give detailed breakdowns of reorgs or explain the millisecond-level mechanics of real-time bidding; even top-line explanations provided sufficient detail to help those I spoke to re-architect their strategy.

Second, it felt incredibly rewarding to be so useful. I walked away from each conversation with a sense of fulfillment that I had rarely felt in my professional life. We're all familiar with the business-world paradox in which tons of exertion has a way of yielding only incremental changes. Now, though, it was clear that I was really moving the needle. What's more, these meetings allowed me to feel a casual sense of mastery that was rare in my day-to-day at Google.

Third, I couldn't be the only one who valued these opportunities. Looking around, I was struck by the fact that I was not alone in possessing untapped, invaluable knowledge. What we have learned just from working in our jobs day to day and year to year—the way a boss automatically ignores anyone who interrupts her, or how a single engineer can derail an entire project—is hidden treasure. To the person who is looking for it, of course.

Michael Polanyi famously wrote that “We know more than we can tell.” It's not true of everyone—certain “thought leaders” seem to quite comfortable telling much more than they know. But for every consultant actively drumming up attention and business, there are ten regular people who know just as much—and would be happy to share it, if only someone would ask.

  I founded Emissary to serve those people and the businesses that need their help.Every organization hungers for access to information that lives beyond their walls, but they don't know how to get it. Likewise, millions of people have valuable knowledge that they're not doing anything with. Our mission is to connect the two. We want to transform the way the world works by empowering people to share their experience.

We started by building an amazing community of people who have deep, tacit knowledge of the organizations they've worked at. We screen these Emissaries by hand and interview them extensively; more than 5,000 have joined our platform to date.

On top of that, we've created a scaled technology platform that's able to match them to the sales organizations that demand their insight, and have built communications channels to facilitate their relationships.

We've been operating quietly for the past year and a half, working with a number of sales organizations of all sizes to ensure we've cracked the code of how to reliably deliver game-changing Emissaries to clients. We're now proud to announce we've raised more than $10 million in Series A funding from an array of spectacular investors, with G20 Ventures and Canaan Partners at the forefront, and we're excited to share what we've learned with the larger world.

05/09/2016

Adopting a Finnish perspective on education..With government subsidies for study-related expenses, it's easy to see why Finnish students opt to continue directly into their master's studies after completing their bachelor's degree, versus entering the lab

Adopting a Finnish perspective on education

The clock reads 10:30 on a Saturday morning and I am already too late to find an open table at the Helsinki University library. Every one is full of students, headphones wedged firmly in their ears as they flip through academic tomes on politics, biology, and everything in between. It would appear that Finnish students take their education much more seriously than I imagined, a change in perspective for this Yankee who spent the last 2 years 'studying' at a university in the United States. But as the crowded library indicates, I am not in Kansas anymore.

The Finnish work ethic is not only impressive but also genuine. Whereas I studied for one standardized test for college admissions, Finnish students complete both secondary and university matriculars. It is not unheard of for Finns to devote 6 months to full-time studying in order to gain acceptance to university or even to devote the time and be rejected in the end. A university degree is valued in Finland, whereas it is increasingly becoming a rite of passage for American university students. As a result, degree inflation coupled with an already-lacking US job market has left many of my fellow college students with considerable personal debt and no employment prospects. The Finnish economy is also facing a downturn but without diminishing the value of an education in the minds of Finnish youth.

With government subsidies for study-related expenses, it's easy to see why Finnish students opt to continue directly into their master's studies after completing their bachelor's degree, versus entering the labor force directly.

The government's financial blessing and the respect given to those admitted into institutions of higher education contrasts the complacent attitude towards financial aid and college studies in American society. Finnish reverence for those who spend the time and effort to educate themselves celebrates education as a necessary evil despite the amount of effort given to university matriculation.

Back home in the States, disillusionment with the university system in addition to the considerable cost of attendance has lead to diminishing of the value of a degree. Although I do not wish for the US to adopt a similar model, I believe American students should adopt a Finnish perspective on education in order to examine its true value. Taking the Finnish example, I have been able to re-examine my perspective on my own education and the privilege of learning. And if that means being there promptly when the Helsinki University library opens its doors, you will know where to find me.

29/08/2016

VesselNavigator has been designed for use in conjunction with Philips interventional X-ray systems to guide catheters during treatment of vascular disease

Philips launches innovative 3D navigation system to enhance minimally invasive treatment of vascular disease

  • VesselNavigator has been designed for use in conjunction with Philips interventional X-ray systems to guide catheters during treatment of vascular disease
  • Major reduction of contrast medium (70%) demonstrated in clinical study, enabling minimally invasive treatment of aortic aneurysms in the fast growing number of patients currently unable to benefit from minimally-invasive techniques

Amsterdam, the Netherlands – Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) today announced the launch of VesselNavigator*, its latest innovation in live 3D catheter navigation to guide the minimally invasive treatment of patients with vascular diseases such as aortic aneurysms (ballooning of the aorta). This new catheter navigation solution, designed for use in conjunction with Philips’ interventional X-ray systems, enhances the precision and accuracy of stent placement, while at the same time significantly reducing contrast medium usage. As a result, minimally invasive treatment options will be available to patients previously unable to benefit from new image-guided intervention techniques.

Developed in collaboration with clinical partners such as the University Hospital Cologne (Germany) and the University Hospital Ghent (Belgium), VesselNavigator complements Philips’ current image-guided therapy portfolio within the field of endovascular and hybrid suite solutions. It addresses the need for advanced 3D live-image guidance solutions, as the treatment for vascular disease is experiencing a major transition from open surgery to minimally invasive procedures, with such procedure volumes growing at high single-digit rates.

During endovascular procedures a catheter is maneuvered, with the aid of image guidance, through major arteries or veins in order to locally position and deploy implants such as stents to reinforce the wall of the affected blood vessel. Using conventional 2D X-ray image guidance, clinicians often perceive the visualization of the vessel anatomy during these procedures as if a dimension is missing, adding to procedure complexity. Many are more familiar with open surgery, during which they can physically see and touch the blood vessels they are trying to repair. VesselNavigator brings back the 3D anatomy they were used to seeing in open surgery.

VesselNavigator can be used for all types of endovascular procedures, but one of its key applications is guidance during the treatment of aortic aneurysms, which if left untreated could lead to severe complications such as massive internal bleeding. At the location of the aneurysm, the aorta often has smaller side branches, such as those that supply blood to the patient’s kidneys. Custom-made stents are therefore often made with dedicated openings that need to be precisely registered with these feeding vessels in order to repair the aorta and maintain critical blood flow to other abdominal organs. With conventional X-ray imaging it is very challenging to position the stent in the precise orientation. Endovascular aortic aneurysm repair is therefore a very complex procedure, and the more time it takes, the more contrast medium is needed for X-ray visualization and guidance in order to succeed.

VesselNavigator fuses live interventional X-ray images with pre-acquired 3D MRI or CT images of the patient’s vascular structures. The resulting 3D color-coded images of the vessels provide enhanced real-time visual guidance, making it easier to maneuver through the vascular network without the need to enhance the X-ray visualization with the repeated use of an injected contrast medium. In recent studies, VesselNavigator has been shown to reduce contrast medium usage by 70%¹ and procedure times by 18%² , contributing to more patient friendly, more efficient and more cost effective treatment of vascular conditions.

“VesselNavigator gives vascular surgeons during endovascular procedures the 3D view of the patient’s anatomy, which they are familiar with from open surgery. It also significantly reduces the amount of contrast medium required, which means a lesser burden on the kidneys. And with a growing population of elderly and diabetic people who suffer from poor kidney function, reducing contrast medium requirements will open up endovascular treatments to a wider range of patients,” says Professor Dr. Frank Vermassen, Head of Vascular and Thoracic Surgery at University Hospital Ghent.

“The strong growth in image-guided therapy procedures is driven by the significant benefits they offer for healthcare systems and patients, including reduced patient trauma, shorter hospital stays, and lower health care costs,” said Bert van Meurs, General Manager Image Guided Therapy at Philips. “It is an area where technology innovation and clinical innovation go hand in hand. VesselNavigator shows our commitment to – in close collaboration with leading clinical and industrial partners – advance the development of innovative technologies that enable less invasive, more accurate and localized therapies.”

VesselNavigator joins Philips’ extensive portfolio of live, 3D image-guided navigation solutions for image-guided minimally invasive therapies. This portfolio also includes HeartNavigator and EchoNavigator for structural heart disease repairs, EP Navigator for cardiac electrophysiology interventions, and EmboGuide to support tumor embolization in cancer treatment. Philips’ leading position in image-guided therapies was recently further enhanced by the acquisition of Volcano Corporation, a global leader in catheter-based imaging and measurement solutions for cardiovascular applications.

* Not available for sale in the U.S. – pending 510(k) clearance


¹ Ref Pubmed: Tacher et al; J Vasc Interv Radiol. 2013 Nov;24(11):1698-706
² Ref Pubmed: Sailer et al; Eur J Vasc Endovasc Surg. 2014 Apr;47(4):349-56

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