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90.5 WESA Explores, Illuminates Innovation and Business With 'Marketplace Tech'

Molly Wood of Marketplace Tech
Christopher Michel

Change happens fast in the world of tech. The newest smart phones make those released a decade ago look as out-of-fashion as a fax machine. Here in Pittsburgh, you can't walk a couple blocks without seeing a self-driving car. It often feels we're ahead of the technological curve. 

90.5 WESA takes a daily look at the ins and outs of the tech industry with the Marketplace Tech Report. You can hear it twice each day, every morning at 9:23 AM and every afternoon at 12:30 PM.

90.5 WESA's Christopher Ayers caught up with host Molly Wood to talk about what Pittsburgh listeners can expect to take away from the show.

AYERS: So, the Marketplace brand news is known for business sort of accessible for those of us not as savvy as the business world as maybe someone glued to CNBC. What's the key to making the tech industry--complicated as it is, ever-changing--what's the key to helping folks get a handle on it?

WOOD: You know, I think it is taking sort of the same approaching, which is trying to demystify this world and take a look specifically beyond the flashy gadgets, to go beyond those headlines and really look at how this industry works. 

For example, one of the things we're going to be looking at in depth is how venture capital works--how a company like Google might get started in the first place; how the decision making would happen about what startups to fund. The goal is to really, you know, if Marketplace raises the economic intelligence of the country, then we hope to do the same thing around the business of technology. 

AYERS: With research universities here in Pittsburgh--Pitt and CMU especially--the industry presence here has grown considerably, and the city seems to have a growing reputation as a "tech town." What does Marketplace Tech stand to teach listeners about how their city is changing and the role the industry is playing in that change?

WOOD: Yeah, Pittsburgh is such a fascinating place to be right now because it's basically a living lab for the future of transportation. And I, you know, there are so many stories to tell about that like anything from the underlying technology to the startup community. 

You know, I'm based in Silicon Valley. We tell so many stories about Stanford and the venture capital community here and the startup scene here, and, frankly, the community around Carnegie Mellon and that research community and the increasing diversity in venture capital and the places that they're looking for new investment include cities like Pittsburgh and cities all over America. And I think there are so many fascinating ways to come at that, and I'm very interested in how investments are going to be made in places that are proving themselves to be leaders in technology that could change everything about how we live. 

AYERS: Aside from the self-driving cars, I'm just wondering what Pittsburgh-centric tech stories interest you? 

WOOD: Well, you know, it looks like there are so many kinds of interesting startups happening in Pittsburgh. One of the stories I'm interested in telling is about diversity of investment. So, how capital to create startups that will go on to create the next, you know, multi-billion-dollar company and create tens of thousands of jobs--how investors are finding those companies. 

And Pittsburgh is emerging as, not just a lab for transportation, but there are certainly a lot of fascinating startups. There are people looking into next-generation battery technology. There is robotic baby gear. There are people looking into curing cancer and cloud providers...so, I think there are, for me, the ability to tell stories about technology hubs that are not Silicon Valley is powerful all by itself. Because there are good ideas everywhere and good ideas everywhere, and you're starting see an awareness that the economics of the Bay Area don't work for everyone, and there might b better opportunities somewhere else, and it is fascinating to see how Pittsburgh, in particular, has become a name on everybody's lips.