Techcrunch - ven, 24.05.2013 - 23:50
On this week’s Ask A VC episode, Index Ventures partner Danny Rimer joined us in the studio. Rimer has been in the venture industry for over 11 years so he had plenty to share on how VC has changed, and the differences in the venture world in Europe and the U.S.
Rimer, who has led the firm’s investments in Etsy, Nastygal and many others, also talked to us about the future of e-commerce and how the industry is changing for startups.
Check out the video above for more!
Catégories: News informatiques
Techcrunch - ven, 24.05.2013 - 22:31
Once a upon a time, Microsoft saw fit to put together a YouTube app for Windows Phone and it was actually pretty great — it let users download videos straight from the app and there was nary an ad to be found. To absolutely no one’s surprise, Google wasn’t too pleased: after all, the features that made the app so appealing didn’t exactly jibe with YouTube’s terms of service, and the search giant demanded the offending app be removed.
Well, after a bit of back and forth (and a conciliatory update), it seems the two companies have finally come to an agreement. Microsoft and YouTube released a statement today affirming that the two companies will work together on crafting yet another YouTube app for Windows Phone that doesn’t fly in the face of Google’s and YouTube’s rules.
Here’s the (admittedly brief) statement in full:
Microsoft and YouTube are working together to update the new YouTube for Windows Phone app to enable compliance with YouTube’s API terms of service, including enabling ads, in the coming weeks. Microsoft will replace the existing YouTube app in Windows Phone Store with the previous version during this time.
So there you have it. Frankly, the news doesn’t come as much of a shock — Microsoft was seemingly caught off-guard when Google’s ire first became known and was willing to make things right by adding those ads should Google give the company access to “the necessary APIs.” Then again, a Google representative points out that Microsoft will be working with YouTube’s the iFrame API, which has been open to the masses for a while now. While it’s refreshing to see these two work out their differences here for once (mostly because Microsoft has been poking at Google with its Scroogled campaign for months now), the real loser here is the consumer.
In just a few weeks a new, ad-laden version of the app will trickle into the Windows Marketplace and Windows Phone users who have downloaded the app will soon find themselves faced with the prospect of embracing a much different YouTube experience. Granted, it’s only one app that’s being bowdlerized, but Windows Phone has been making significant strides when it comes to app quality lately and it’s a bummer to see such a prominent app lose its charm.
In the event you’re a Windows Phone user who hasn’t yet updated your YouTube app to the latest version, you may want to wait before taking the plunge. Microsoft recently pushed a tweaked version of the app into the Windows Marketplace that removed the ability to download videos on the fly, though you still won’t be subjected to in-stream ads.
Catégories: News informatiques
Techcrunch - ven, 24.05.2013 - 21:57
In lieu of a formal review, Matt Burns and I sat down to take a look at the Samsung 700T AKA ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T, a convertible tablet that has a small button on the keyboard that pops out the Windows 8 tablet that forms the brains of the machine. The device is a bit chintzy – more pressed metal and injected plastic than I like to see on a laptop – but at about $1,000 retail it’s an acceptable compromise for Win8 users who are looking for a nicer tablet.
I gave this device a Fly simply because I like the idea – a laptop that turns into a tablet with much fuss – but Matt was unimpressed. A little treat for you: this thing was so hard to describe that I had to read the name off of my phone and I still mispronounced it.
The laptop hit about 6 hours of battery life and a Geekbench score of about 4,000, on par with the i5 tablets we tested. The lower price – especially at this late in the game for this laptop, make it an interesting choice for a fleet laptop but I think the fit, finish, and power could detract from its overall appeal. It’s an interesting laptop, to be sure, but not the best of the bunch.
Catégories: News informatiques
Google Needs To Bring Emerging Markets Online To Grow Its Business Opportunities In The Next 10 years
Techcrunch - ven, 24.05.2013 - 21:21
The WSJ has reported that Google is participating in discussions with emerging markets such as Southeast Asia and Africa about setting up wireless network infrastructure in cities and towns. A source told the WSJ that: “The wireless networks would be available to dwellers outside of major cities where wired Internet connections aren’t available and could be used to improve Internet speeds in urban centers.”
This aligns with Google’s goals of surrounding the world with technology that fits into our daily lives. That’s a “don’t be evil,” touchy-feely notion, but it comes from a need to set up Google’s future business opportunities globally.
Remember, all of Google’s products require one thing: The Internet.
According to Internet World Stats, Africa’s “Internet penetration rate” was a paltry 15.6 percent as of June 2012. Compare that to 78.6 percent in the United States, and it’s clear that Google needs to move outside of the U.S. to go after its next group of “customers.”
That’s a lot of business opportunity.
Google Chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt talks about Internet penetration a lot, projecting that by the end of the decade, everyone will be online: “For every person online, there are two who are not. By the end of the decade, everyone on Earth will be connected.” That’s lofty, but it’s essential for Google to grow.
Mobile phones prevail in areas that don’t have proper Internet connectivity, but smartphones are still limited. People still use laptops and desktops at work, and would possibly use them at home, if they had proper connectivity. When looking at the chart above, Google sees all of the possible business opportunities that would come into play once those penetration numbers start jumping up. With more people online, there would be more eyeballs, more ad clicks, more shoppers, more…everything. If Google can push a few of these projects through in Africa and Southeast Asia, it will attract support of governments in other locales, as well.
Google is working on rolling out connected Internet with its Fiber product in places like Kansas City, Austin and Utah. A quarter of Kansas City area residents don’t have Internet connectivity in the home, with 17 percent of them not using the Internet at all. These findings were unearthed during Google’s due diligence for setting up Fiber, of course. When I visited the area this month, Fiber hadn’t reached the homes that need it the most, the ones that would take advantage of the “free option.” That’s where things will get interesting for Google, as it will bring them engagement that they haven’t had and could lead them to building new products that they haven’t been thinking about yet.
If you take those learnings and the Fiber rollout in Kansas City and apply it to emerging markets, then Google’s intentions become clear: More people online, more people using Google products. It’s simple. What’s not simple is getting these markets to realize that it would not only be good for Google to have more people online, it would be great for local businesses as well.
While Google isn’t commenting, either for the WSJ story or this one, it’s clear that Schmidt is on a worldwide friend-making expedition, attempting to get as many global government officials on the “Internet For All” train that he can.
Sure, setting up these emerging markets will help Google’s potential bottom line, but it could also help the entire technology ecosystem. More opportunities for Google will open up more opportunities for those building apps and services. If Google wants to do all of the research and foot the bill to get things rolling, then everyone wins.
[Photo Credit: Flickr]
Catégories: News informatiques
Techcrunch - ven, 24.05.2013 - 21:19
The folks over on Android Police must have spent some of their time rewatching I/O videos. While they were doing that, they spotted a potential leak during the “Structure in Android App Design” session. In it, it seems, Google quietly leaked screenshots of what looks to be a revamped interface for the Gmail app.
If this turns out to be a real product, and the presentation sure made it look like that, the app could soon get a new navigation drawer that should make using it quite a bit easier – especially for those of us who like to use lots of labels in Gmail.
Currently, Google uses what it calls a “spinner,” the drop-down menu at the top of the screen you’ve probably seen in numerous Android apps. Instead, as Google’s Jens Nagel showed during his presentation, the new design would use a navigation drawer that users can pop out from the left side of the screen.
Here is what this would look like:
It’s worth noting that Google showed a lot of mock-ups during this presentation. The Gmail screenshot looks pretty real, however. Google does typically vet these presentations ahead of time, so we will just have to wait and see if this is really a leak or just an example of what the Android team could do with navigation drawers in Gmail.
During the presentation, Google also showed a mock-up of what the Calendar app would look like with the new navigation drawer, but Jens Nagel explicitly noted that while they could use this as the main interface for Calendar, the sidebar does “look a bit underpopulated,” especially on a tablet. It would be odd for Google to use one interface paradigm for one of its main native Android apps and go with another one in the rest of its apps.
Here is the full presentation. The discussion about the new Gmail interface starts about 23 minutes into the video.
Catégories: News informatiques
Techcrunch - ven, 24.05.2013 - 21:00
In this episode, John Biggs, Matt Burns and Darrell Etherington discuss Microsoft’s just-announced Xbox One, complete with voice commands, a brand new Kinect, a slew of new entertainment/social features, and the best specs yet.
We invite you to enjoy our weekly podcasts every Friday at 3pm Eastern and noon Pacific.
Intro Music by Rick Barr.
Catégories: News informatiques
Techcrunch - ven, 24.05.2013 - 20:59
- Ships with Chrome OS (generally requires an update to get to latest build)
- 2560 x 1700, 239 PPI display
- 32GB SSD
- 1.8GHz Intel Core i5 Processor
- MSRP: $1,299
- Hardware is incredibly well-designed
- Fast boot, right into Chrome-based workflow
- Touch is nice when actually needed
- Seems to leech battery quickly in sleep mode
- Still just Chrome
- Battery life could be better
The Chromebook Pixel is the Chromebook I’d pick as my personal Chromebook – if money was no option, and if I felt I really needed a Chromebook. It’s an impressive beast, like a Bird of Paradise, but in the end a trained falcon would be a way better winged thing to own, since it could catch you some wild game, instead of just prancing around with its mesmerizing but fairly useless mating displays.Aspirational
While not comparable to a bird of prey, the Chromebook Pixel is a very impressive piece of hardware. The construction, which includes an anodized aluminum shell that has a dark slate finish, corners that are just slightly rounded for a more angular look than say a MacBook Pro, and clear attention to detail paid to the overall fit and finish that results in a final product you feel like putting on display in your home. The computer is solid, and it bears a pleasing weight to remind you, tipping the scales at 3.35 lbs (which is actually lighter than the 13.3-inch Retina MacBook Pro but feels more substantial somehow, perhaps owing to the smaller screen size.
The Chromebook Pixel also has a touch-sensitive, high-resolution display that beats the Retina MacBooks in terms of pixel density (which may have something to do with Google’s naming choice here). The screen is admittedly gorgeous in ideal conditions, but ideal conditions are fewer and farther between for the Pixel’s screen than for the Apple one. The color spectrum was skewed slightly yellow on my unit, and viewed at lower brightness legibility suffers. Also, if you think glare is a problem on your MacBook Pro or iMac, you’re going to be amazed at how much worse it can get with the Pixel in bright lighting.
The touch aspect works well, and surprisingly I haven’t had trouble with greasy mitts mucking up the screen so far. That’s probably because I seldom actually reach out and touch it though. The movement is awkward from a typing position, and of limited use value in my opinion. But for those few times you do get the impulse to tap something, it’s a very nice-to-have feature, if not a killer one. Speaking of touch, the Chromebook Pixel has one of the best trackpads currently available on a laptop, on par with Apple’s extremely solid input pads.
Hardware aside, the Chromebook Pixel’s main attribute is that it runs Google’s Chrome OS. If you’ve not used Chrome OS before, you’re probably not alone. But you also don’t need to worry about a learning curve; this is just like using the Chrome browser on your Mac or Windows computer. Web apps are treated a little more like proper desktop apps, perhaps, but the extensions, the experience and pretty much everything else about it is just like using Chrome. Which is both a good and a bad thing.
It’s good because it’s simple, easy, and for a good chunk of people, it probably actually satisfies the majority of their needs. If you’re a light computer user, making the browser the focus of an OS experience makes sense. But unfortunately for Chrome OS, tablets make almost as much, if not more sense for those users. Once you start requiring more than a tablet demands, your needs likely ramp up quickly, and then you’ll feel the lack of dedicated apps like Skype and Adobe’s Creative Suite products on the Chromebook pretty quickly. In other words, the Chromebook Pixel occupies a very thin sliver in terms of potential buyer needs, and there’s likely massive demand on either side.
Google didn’t make a mass market device with the Pixel, in the end. It made something that can stand as a shining example of what a Chromebook can be. That means that the Pixel is, in the end, something of a precious beauty, an exotic shape that won’t likely fit either a round, square or triangle-shaped hole.Who is it for? Designers
No. If you’re a designer and you’re using a Chromebook Pixel, you must be not very good at your job… or so good that I’m mystified at your abilities and you’ve evolved beyond the limitations of any physical tool. There are photo editing tools available for Chrome OS, and there’s even an SD card slot (but don’t try using ultra-high capacity ones like the 128GB I use as one of part of my go-to photography kit, it can’t read those), but if you’re a serious designer you’ll sorely feel the lack of better, more mature tools. It can output to other screens, too with a Mini DisplayPort, but that just gives you double the browser space, and still limits you in terms of design software.
A lot of effort seems to be going into putting more design tools in the hands of web-based editors and creators, but we’re not there yet. Maybe that’s next after Adobe has moved to its Creative Cloud subscription-based model, but for right now, designers steer clear.Founders
No. The Chromebook Pixel might be perfect for a founder who’s building products based on the Google ecosystem and wants to kiss some extra ass, but really it isn’t a great tool for an entrepreneur on the move. The main reason being that some absolutely crucial conferencing tools like Skype are still not in place on Chrome OS.
The other conceivable situation where this might work is if you’re a web startup that’s betting big on HTML5 and you want to really eat your own dogfood. But other laptops also offer Chrome, and a lot more besides, so why not have your dogfood and eat it, too? Not sure that metaphor actually works here but it reads well, so go with it.Programmers
No. This is a situation where it probably depends on what exactly it is you’re programming. If you’re building IFTTT recipes, for instance, a Chromebook Pixel is pretty exceptional. And if you’re working on tweaking WordPress themes, then you can do everything you want to on the Pixel. But for anything beyond straightforward and simple text-based coding, you’ll probably want to look elsewhere. I wouldn’t, for instance, recommend coding iOS apps on a Chromebook Pixel. I probably wouldn’t even recommend developing Chrome OS apps on a Chromebook, though you can apparently hack the computer to make it operate better as an everyday coding device.Bottom Line
This is a very good Chromebook. But the fact remains that it still feels like devices running Google’s still-nascent Chrome OS need to be considered separately from other notebooks running OS X, Windows and even Ubuntu. The Pixel puts on an excellent show, has dazzling good looks and a stunning mating display, but it’s far from an apex predator.
Catégories: News informatiques
Techcrunch - ven, 24.05.2013 - 20:55
Erply, the startup that makes iPad-oriented and cloud-based point of sale and inventory management software for retailers, has raised $2.15 million in new funding, co-founder CEO Kristian Hiiemaa tells TechCrunch.
The round, which is Erply’s Series B, was led by Redpoint Ventures with the participation of Index Ventures and Dave McClure’s 500 Startups. This brings the total venture capital investment into Erply to $4.2 million.
The decision to take on just $2.15 million was a definite choice, Hiiemaa said, noting that Erply had offers from investors keen to pitch in on a $10 million Series B. But Hiiemaa decided to keep the round small because his company, which has a staff of 45, is profitable. “There’s no need [for a larger round] now,” he said.
One way that Erply has achieved the strong financial position to be choosy with investors is by having its technology development in Hiiemaa’s native Estonia, where he has the know-how to employ top tier engineering talent. An Erply competitor with engineering operations in the United States “would need to raise $20 million to get the same team and speed,” Hiiemaa said.
Still, Erply, which has been kicking into high gear of late and currently has 45 million SKUs in 115,000 stores on board, has no shortage of ways that the new funding will come in handy — especially since its competitors include deep-pocketed tech giants such as Microsoft, Oracle, and RetailPro. The company just signed a lease on a new sales floor in New York City and plans to double its staff in the months ahead. Going forward, Hiiemaa said, Erply is focusing on big enterprise sales efforts, targeting more Fortune 500 companies with more than 200 store locations to use its platform. Also in the works at Erply is an iPad compatible RFID, NFC, and Bluetooth-enabled hardware device to manage inventory that should be making its debut later this year.
As Hiiemaa told me earlier this spring, Erply’s larger vision is a big one — to help brick and mortar shops stay in business and keep our neighborhoods vibrant. “The most important thing for me is helping retailers to survive and be successful,” Hiiemaa said at the time. “They have stores, locations, inventory, but they lack web knowledge and algorithmic-powered tools to understand retention. Otherwise, online eats the stores.” Now Erply has a bit more firepower to fight that good fight, and let technology help traditional businesses rather than hurt them.
Catégories: News informatiques
Techcrunch - ven, 24.05.2013 - 20:38
Continuing to grow its suite of services aimed at mobile app developers, Amazon today announced App Engagement Reports, free app usage reports that are now a part of the company’s Mobile App Distribution Portal. The reports are designed for Amazon Appstore developers in need of information about app performance and revenue.
Specifically, the reports include daily and monthly active devices, installs, sessions, average revenue per device, and retention metrics, and they can be filtered by marketplace, viewed in chart form, or downloaded as a CSV, the company explains in this afternoon’s official announcement. Developers will also be able to change the data range on the reports in order to see historical trends.
There are six Engagement Reports now being provided:
- Overview: A summary of key usage data for your app or game
- Average Revenue: Daily and Monthly Average Revenue per Device (ARPD) and Average Revenue per Paid User (ARPPU) for In-App Items
- Retention: Daily Retention for days 1-3-7 and Weekly Retention for weeks 1-2-3
- Active Devices: Daily Active Devices (DAD), Monthly Active Devices (MAD), and Sticky Factor (DAD/MAD)
- Sessions: Total Daily Sessions and Average Sessions Per Device
- App Installs: Daily Installs and Uninstalls
At launch, the reports are only available for those apps that were submitted and published after October 25, 2012. For developers who haven’t updated their apps since then, they’ll need to either republish the app or submit an update in order to activate the reporting feature. However, there’s no need to make any other changes to the app’s code or integrate any additional software.
The report will include data for apps running on Amazon devices like the Kindle Fire and Fire HD, as well as any other Android devices running the latest version of the Amazon Appstore mobile app.
App analytics and sales figures are crucial to making Amazon’s Appstore a more complete service – these things have long been standard features of competing stores like Google Play or Apple’s iTunes, for example. Though many developers still integrate third-party SDKs to allow for increased capabilities and more detailed reporting beyond what comes out-of-the-box, it’s expected for the Appstore itself to at least provide some sort of basic insight into an app’s traction and sales. Amazon says that reports have been a “popular request from developers,” and that’s likely an understatement.
The addition of the new Engagement Reports comes on the heels of several other changes Amazon has introduced in recent months to beef up its Appstore offerings for developers. Not only has it been expanding its footprint globally, the company has also added features like in-app payments, subscriptions, and even its own virtual currency, Amazon Coins, in order to give developers more revenue generation possibilities.
Now that developers have had a little time to experiment with those new offerings, it only makes sense that they should be able to track how well those features are performing, and whether or not they have an effect on key metrics like ARPU (average revenue per user) and retention.
Additional information about the various parts of the reports and how to access them are explained here. Meanwhile, an Engagement Reports FAQ offers the answers to even more specific questions about the new reports.
Catégories: News informatiques
Techcrunch - ven, 24.05.2013 - 20:28
TechCrunch Disrupt SF is back! We’re very excited to announce tickets are on sale and stealth companies can now apply for Startup Battlefield.
This September 7-11, we’re bringing Disrupt back to San Francisco to welcome an all new slate of outstanding startups, influential speakers, guests and more to the stage. It marks the seventh time we’ve set up shop here in SF and once again all the action — starting with our 24 hour Hackathon — happens at The Concourse at San Francisco Design Center.
Last month, at Disrupt NY 2013, Enigma bested a very impressive batch of startups including HAN:DLE, SupplyShift, and Zenefits. The very best startups showed up in New York this year, and we’re stoked to keep the magic alive in San Francisco once September rolls around.
So are you ready to launch your company on the biggest startup launch stage? Tell us about it.
As in years past we’re looking for the very best startups to compete in the Startup Battlefield and walk away with the Disrupt Cup, $50,000 cash, and gobs of attention. For the first two days, 30 companies will present their product to a panel of judges.
But first you have to apply. Applications are due June 17. Click here for the application and full list of rules.
Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis — and the last two Disrupts had record numbers of applicants — so it’s to your advantage to submit as soon as you are ready. Due to strong demand, we are unable to review applications more than once, so please do not submit a draft application before you are ready for final consideration.
PowerPoint slides and video demos are optional but highly encouraged. We reserve the right not to review applications without video demos based on application volume. We look forward to reviewing your application.
All submissions are confidential unless otherwise permitted by applicants on the application form.
More Disrupt SF 2013 details will be announced in the coming weeks. Tickets are currently on sale at a significant discount. We have a stellar line up of speakers and panels on the docket. But we need your help. Apply for Startup Battlefield and help us make Disrupt SF 2013 the best yet.
Our sponsors help make events happen. If you are interested in learning more about sponsorship opportunities, please contact our sponsorship team at email@example.com.
Catégories: News informatiques
Techcrunch - ven, 24.05.2013 - 20:25
Know what probably won’t help? Botching the key detail of an email sent to many of your most tech-savvy users.
Tumblr just sent out a big ol’ mass email to all of the users who host a Tumblr blog through their own, independently owned domain. In other words, to the folks who know enough about these bleepy-bloopy electronic space typewriters we use to be able to get a bit fancy with their Tumblr blogs.
It warned users of an impending change they’d need to make to their settings — a new IP address they needed to point their domain at — unless they wanted their blog to suddenly “no longer work“.
The catch: they, uh, kinda forgot the most important part. They’d put in a placeholder for the IP, and… it never got replaced. “Please point your custom domain to [IP Address],” it directed. Wherps.
For many of these users, this was among the first emails they’d received since the Yahoo acqusition. Within about 30 seconds, the tweets lampooning the email started going up.
Moral of the story: If you work at a lil’ company and manage to botch a mass email, don’t worry too much. You’re in good company. Billion dollar company.
Catégories: News informatiques
Techcrunch - ven, 24.05.2013 - 19:12
A block from the Mariposa on-ramp and in the eye-line of 90,000 cars whizzing by on 280 sits an old warehouse that was home to the San Francisco Bay Guardian, a local alt weekly, and Digg. Most of the building is gutted and inside they are working on the “greatest enabler of hardware on the planet,” according to PCH International head Liam Casey. It will be the new home of Lime Labs, a hush-hush design consultancy that Casey bought in 2012 for an undisclosed amount and, most important, the U.S. gateway to Asian PCH’s manufacturing might that allows hardware startups to access stem-to-stern services in design, coding, manufacturing, packaging and shipping.
Casey, dubbed “Mr. China” in a James Fallows article that outlined the rising importance of Shenzhen as a manufacturing giant, is one of the biggest machers in Asia. A teetotaling Irishman, the inexhaustible Casey ostensibly lives in a hotel in downtown Shenzhen but is nearly always in the air. He and his cross-cultural team make nearly all the accessories you can imagine for multiple vendors. You couldn’t point a finger in a Best Buy without hitting a product PCH builds.
He envisions his new building as a gateway to China and a way to help clients – and the public – understand the vagaries of mass manufacturing. The space will contain a public foyer and cafe where visitors can learn about materials, design, and manufacturing. C-Level training will go on in a large anteroom on the first floor with a huge video screen suspended on epoxy-sealed walls.
In short, it’s the Apple Store if the focus was all the trouble that went into products before they ever reached the consumer.
“We want it to be the most photographed building in San Francisco,” said Andre Yousefi, co-founder of Lime Lab. The company, which started in the doldrums of the recession, consisted of Yousefi and his partner Kurt Dammermann until Casey bought them and expanded the team to 25. They expect to hire 15 more engineers by October and hope to fill 80 seats in their new HQ by 2014. Not bad for a tiny, two-man shop in a run-down district of San Francisco.
Yousefi is the buttoned down member of the group, clean shaven more more dedicated to design than manufacturing. Dammermann is the scruffy mechanic who has seen factory floors and is at home with drill presses and band saws.
The Lime Lab vision is born of the needs of hardware startups and companies that need a full service consultancy to help their product move from idea to packaged product in a few short months.
“What we don’t do is the high volume accessories work,” said Yousefi. “We’re doing more up-front product development, end-to-end.” Using PCH’s retail distribution platform, TNS Distribution in Dublin, Ireland, coupled with the company’s extensive contacts in China’s manufacturing centers, Lime Lab can take a sketch of a product and bring it to fruition at a speed unimaginable for most strategic design houses.
Yousefi and Dammermann were former IDEO designers and CAD jockeys who wanted to build their own consultancy.
“You come to us with either a napkin sketch or just an idea and we do the detail design and development to flesh it out,” said Dammermann. “One we have the idea fleshed out with the design team, we work with the team in Shenzhen to take it to the finish line.”
The team was reticent to mention their clients or current employees although they have hired ex-Apple, Intel, and IDEO engineers and designers who were looking for something more rewarding. They are working on everything from audio products to mini-computers and their current offices, though small, hold CNC machines, 3D printers, and a small testing facility. The new lab on Mississippi Street will contain far more gear as well as a situation room for describing the retail shipping patterns laid out by PCH and the design decisions made for each product – all in a building that is bathed in natural light thanks to a long bank of leadlights windows.
“A lot of engineers in the Bay Area have become more strategic. We’re trying to close that loop and create engineers that are really good at manufacturing,” said Dammermann.
“The physical-making aspect of engineering is slipping away,” said Yousefi. Lime Lab hopes to change that.
Like proud parents, the pair were excited to show off their new baby. The building is not nearly finished but already they talk about the epoxy-sealed floors as if they’ve been walking on them for weeks and the banquette style wooden stairs as if they’re getting ready to present to a group of schoolkids the next day. The space is huge and outside there is a definite whiff of marijuana in the air, as if the neighbors were enjoying the relative quietude of the neighborhood to run a grow house. One of the previous tenants left a Diego Rivera-style mural of mightily straining migrant workers on the stairs up to the second floor, an addition that the partners haven’t yet decided what to do with. The walls have been stripped down to studs and you can see the thick joists peeking out from between whiffs of insulation. In short, it’s a great place to start again.Before
Brady Forrest, formerly of Khosla Ventures, will run PCH’s Incubator program from the third floor of the building where two rows of desks will house ten small- to mid-level startups. These companies will have a direct line to Asia. Most Lime Labs employees will also spend three months in Shenzhen to become accustomed to working with a bi-continental team.
“People are always talking about how manufacturing expertise has moved to China. The best thing is that we’re bringing it back,” said Dammermann.
The “after” renders the team shared with me show a building that is half factory and half Prada store. The exposed brick is mostly hidden and the space is all light and air. Gone are the remnants of industrial San Francisco, replaced with a shape as form-fitting and beautiful as an iPad box.“We never gave up on hardware. I’ve never started a web company.”
“It took us a little while to look for buildings. When we first started, Liam was like ‘Nope.’ He wouldn’t even get out of the car,” said Dammermann. They settled on the biggest building they could find, signing a 10-year lease on the space. There is enough room to invite groups to hold meet-ups at the space and there are plans to offer engineering seminars to incubated companies as well as executives who may be interested in starting up using Lime Labs expertise. While they are looking for larger clients in the Valley – the company is also looking to help Kickstarter projects join the ranks of successful business. “Hardware makes software sticky,” said Dammermann. It’s this ethos that drives the pair to make their lab accessible to all comers.
The last floor of the new space is a roof deck dedicated to the incubator participants and engineers. From here you can see the iron belt of the highway girding the edge of the Bay. It’s windy up there, a problem the pair will have to solve down the line. Until that time comes, probably sometime in mid-2014, the team can simply focus on hiring and building.
“The junior guys are awesome. Their network is immense. They’re like pigs in shit. We send them out to China and they come back with smiles on their face. One trip alone gives you two years of experience,” said Yousefi.
“We never gave up on hardware. I’ve never started a web company,” said Dammermann with obvious pride as the sun set over downtown SF.(Soon-To-Be) After
Catégories: News informatiques
Techcrunch - ven, 24.05.2013 - 19:03
The ROI of social media is something of a black box for many e-commerce companies, but New York-based startup Olapic is beginning to change that. The company, which allows brands to collect user-generated photos from services like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to display on their websites, is now offering an analytics suite to help retailers and brands understand what content works and how it’s affecting conversions.
Olapic was founded by Pau Sabria, Luis Sanz and Jose de Cabo; they met while attending Columbia University, and this past summer the company closed on $1 million in seed funding from Bonobos and Warby Parker backer Great Oaks Venture Capital, plus Brad Harrison Ventures, Columbia University’s Lang Fund, and other angels. It’s now cash-flow positive.
At the time of the initial funding, the team said the plan was to expand the software-as-a-service platform beyond the publishers and brands it had previously worked with (which included Condé Nast, Pepsi, NY Daily News, The Baltimore Sun, and various sports teams) to reach those in the e-commerce sector.
Today, Olapic has worked with about 100 companies, a good many of which represent the young, trendier e-commerce companies where something like an on-site Instagram gallery has a better chance to work. To date, Olapic has worked with more than 40 top e-commerce brands, including Lululemon, Baublebar, Nasty Gal, Coach, New Balance, Teva, Guess, Reef, Steve Madden, Threadless and many more.
Retailers are using the service to engage their community via contests and other campaigns, asking fans to hashtag themselves modeling the clothes, shoes or other accessories, for example, or just sharing photos of their favorite products. For one campaign Luluemon ran this past fall (#TheSweatLife), 26,000 consumers responded by posting photos on Instagram with the appropriate hashtag.
Olapic offers the e-commerce companies backend technology to manage the submissions, in order to vet the images before they appear on the site or quickly sort through a selection in order to determine a contest winner, for example. Now, it’s helping the retailers make better sense of the data surrounding those images, too.
With the new analytics suite, retailers can track which photos are getting clicked, what those click-through rates are, what products are trending, what consumers are interested in, conversions, and more.
During its beta, clients saw an increase between 5 and 7 percent in their conversion rates when they displayed user-generated photos on their site, and click-throughs on the most engaging photos was between 15 and 20 percent. The majority (82 percent) of the latter came from Instagram.
Also, the company has found that, on average, the shoppers who interact with a real person’s photo on the site convert at 2 to 3 times higher than the average shopper. This increase can be attributed to the fact that people can finally see what the clothes look like on normal people, instead of the models typically used to showcase the fashions on shopping sites, explains de Cabo, but it’s also related to the fact that those who are browsing the images are probably doing more product research, which indicates an increased intention to purchase.
But there’s something more to it, too. Olapic has also arrived at a time when there’s a shift underway in e-commerce and shopping trends. Brands and retailers want to more directly engage with their audience, and in turn, the audience expects the company to be engaged and responsive.
In addition, younger users – which especially speaks to the 18-30 demographic that favors shopping at many of Olapic’s clients’ sites – have grown up with smartphones and social media, and are now transitioning to communicating through photos, instead of static posts containing just text.
You can see this trend playing out on the larger stage, as well. It’s why Facebook acquired rapidly growing photo-sharing app Instagram, and became fearful enough of private photo-messaging startup Snapchat to ship a clone called Poke. It’s why Pinterest caught many by surprise with its quick ascension, and why Twitter has been moving toward complementing its 140-character text-based posts with richer media like photos and video, even acquiring the video-sharing service Vine along the way. Most recently, it’s why image-heavy (well, GIF-heavy) site Tumblr was snatched up by Yahoo, a company seeking its return to “cool.”
For the youngest demographic in particular, they don’t want the brand marketing to them, they want it to provide a platform that enables participation. Case in point: although Olapic offers a button that allows users to request their photo be taken down, the company says that of the more than 100,000+ photos that have been publicly shared by brands, only one user ever requested a photo be pulled.
Fans are generally excited when a photo is posted, explains de Cabo. “Our partners are telling us they’re receiving a lot of comments and emails that [consumers are] super pysched to be a part of the brand,” he says.
More details about Olapic’s platform are available here.
Catégories: News informatiques
Techcrunch - ven, 24.05.2013 - 18:12
A Russian startup called Unface.me has created a new social network inspired by the Gossip Girl TV series which lets users create an alter ego to — let’s face it — troll their friends, or even post even worst types of gossip entirely anonymously. The site connects with Facebook and Russian social network VKontakte so it can pull in users’ genuine friend networks, then furnishes them with a series of tools to poke fun, dish salacious gossip or vote on who of their friends is coolest and therefore who is not. Y’know, teen stuff.
Teens powered the rise of social networking giant Facebook. But today’s teens are arguably starting to be less enamoured with the platform their siblings spent all their time on, what with so many other, more flexible ways to ping and poke each other. Facebook’s insistence on real names, and its standard comms toolset of public posts, private messages and IM isn’t helping here. Looked at through the hyper layered and stratified teenage lens, it’s pretty limting. Which is giving startups the opportunity to crowd in.
Zuck and co were also not as quick to respond to the growth in mobile messaging as they should have been. The long and short of it is that today’s teens are spoiled for choice; they don’t need Facebook to stay in touch — they have a whole arsenal of creative digital tools to get around being grounded.
Facebook’s difficulty, of course, is that it can’t keep up with the kids without risking alienating its massive user base of oldies. With such a whoppingly huge user base that spans multiple age-groups comes a big responsibility not to put segments of users off. Keeping things fairly simple is the compromise path, but that too risks boring the kids — so they go looking to get their kicks elsewhere, whether it’s Snapchat or Unface.me.
Now it must be said that Unface.me is pretty rough round the edges — and focused pretty squarely on the Russia market for now. It isn’t necessarily anything more than a curiosity. It’s just come out of a closed beta, so its user base is small, with a test group of around 20,000 that it’s now looking to grow — having just opened up to the public. It says it’s also starting to advertise to get the word out. But as an experiment in extending social networking by adding an element of privacy it’s interesting to watch — also bringing to mind secret-sharing app Whisper.
Unface.me’s founders are three computer science graduates from Moscow State University, with respective specialisms in marketing, business development and web development. The startup is currently bootstrapped with funds from founders, friends and family.
“The inital idea came from the Gossip Girl series, but we decided to go further and develop a place where people can share their feelings freely and get honest opinions from their friends, but sharing secrets and gossips can be done too. We strongly believe that anonymity loosens up and helps discovering new facts about friends and yourself,” Unface.me’s Dmitrii Ponomarev tells TechCrunch.
The site has been in development for around a year and a half, with the closed beta kicking off six months ago. The “mission” is to “let every person discuss freely anything or anyone”. And, judging by some of the public posts, there’s certainly plenty of that going on already. Indeed, it’s pushing into some pretty unpleasant territory, which is generally what happens when you mix teens and gossip, regardless of the medium they’re using.
The key twist here is the mixture of unknown and known, says Ponomarev. Since the users are interacting with their real friends, pulled in from third party social networks, not random online strangers. From there they can choose to chat and post anonymously or under a fixed alterego. Or indeed using the real name they use on the linked social network.
“A user can anonymously write a story about his friends on yesterday’s party, share it anonymously via sms and watch the discussion,” explains Ponomarev. “Or he or she can post a photo of his new look and get really honest responses from friends because the are anonymous. Or he can start an anonymous chat with his friends and discuss something that matters with his friends but no one will know each others’ names… We’ve gone much further than just posting anonymous text messages.”
Teens are famously creative in their communications. Even within the Facebook straitjacket they find subtle and not so subtle ways to hack the limits — by ‘being in a relationship’ with all their BFFs, say, or asking each other to like a post for feedback on what they look like and so on. Unface.me looks like it’s picking up on that preference for teens to gamify their communications — and giving them even more layers to interact with each other.
Facebook can still be part of the mix, of course — as one of the foundation networks that Unface.me is using as its jumping off point. However, if more teenage chatter ends up going on anonymously outside Facebook’s walls that’s not an outcome that will end up pouring coin into Zuckerberg’s coffers as it restricts the flow of data. Addressing the innovation challenge posed by upstart startups that are offering cooler, more teen-friendly ways to do stuff is the sort of war that is looking impossible for a single, central dominant service like Facebook to win. When it comes to the social networking/social messaging space, it’s definitely time to get the popcorn in.
Catégories: News informatiques
Techcrunch - ven, 24.05.2013 - 18:00
Adams told me earlier that he wasn’t looking to leave Facebook, but he had also been advising Intercom and became excited about the opportunity. The startup, which is backed by Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, 500 Startups and others, offers tools for online businesses to track every interaction with a customer and to use that data to deliver personalized messages and offers.
When I suggested that this sounds like a shift from Adams’ previous work in advertising, he didn’t entirely disagree, but he also said Intercom’s work ties into the themes he’s been exploring at Facebook, which have also been expressed in his talks and his book Grouped. (In addition, Adams is known for his work at Google, particularly a presentation that seemed to outline many of the ideas that eventually shaped Google+.)
Adams argues that in the future, businesses’ interactions with potential customers are going to be much more personal and relationship-based, rather than following the one-to-many broadcast model of traditional advertising. Intercom facilitates those company-to-customer interactions, and he added that it’s not just a way to deliver slightly-more-targeted marketing emails.
“In the past … companies tried to minimize customer interaction,” Adams said. “They didn’t want customers to talk back to them — that was overhead. Minimizing customer interaction is a very outdated model from a pre-social web world. Intercom is very much about intimacy, very much about being personable.”
Adams will be working out of Intercom’s Dublin office — he said he had already made the move from Silicon Valley to Dublin for personal reasons.
Catégories: News informatiques
Techcrunch - ven, 24.05.2013 - 17:58
Automattic, the company behind publishing platform WordPress.com, has sold $50 million in a secondary offering led by investment management firm Tiger Global. The sale will allow some early investors and employees to get cash in exchange for their shares, while adding another stakeholder in the company.
The share offering wasn’t necessary to raise funds for the company, according to Automattic founder Matt Mullenweg. In a blog post, he wrote that the company is “healthy, generating cash, and already growing as fast as it can, so there’s no need for the company to raise money directly.” He also noted that the minority of stockholders who participated in the secondary sale continue to hold on to the vast majority of their shares.
Lee Fixel at Tiger Global led the investment, which follows other high-profile, late-stage deals that the firm has made recently. Those include investments in Eventbrite and SurveyMonkey. Tiger Global is also an investor in companies like Palantir, Square and Warby Parker, as well as Facebook and LinkedIn. With the purchase, Tiger will join existing investors in Automattic, such as Polaris Partners, True Ventures, Radar Partners, and The New York Times Company.
WordPress.com, of course, is the publishing platform (one might call it a CMS) that powers a number of high-profile sites, including the one you’re reading right now. WordPress (the open source project upon which WordPress.com is based*) is just about to celebrate its 10th anniversary on May 27 and will have meetups in cities across the world to celebrate.
* Confused yet? This happens every time we write about WordPress, WordPress.com, or Automattic
Catégories: News informatiques
Techcrunch - ven, 24.05.2013 - 17:32
Two VMware executives have left to join Redpoint Ventures to help the firm extend its reach into the enterprise and mobile markets. Their leaving marks a string of recent VMware departures, following the Pivotal spinout of several of the two companies’ product groups.
Both executives joining Redpoint had important roles at VMware. Javier Soltero was responsible for driving advanced development and strategy for application level cloud services. Soltero joined VMware after the acquisition of SpringSource in 2009. Three months prior, SpringSource, a Java framework, had acquired Hyperic, a large-scale web infrastructure management software provider. Soltero was co-founder and CEO of the company. Soltero has some Internet chops that date back to the earliest days of the web. Early in his career, Soltero worked at Netscape, where he was responsible for early Internet messaging, application servers and e-commerce technologies.
Kevin Henrikson joined Zimbra in 2005 and worked there until Yahoo! acquired the company in 2007. In 2010, VMware acquired Zimbra, where Henrikson directed Zimbra’s engineering and development roadmap planning and execution, including potential company acquisitions. He holds a published patent and a filed patent in conjunction with his work at Zimbra.
A number of VMware executives have left the company in the past year. Last week, Microsoft hired Patrick Chanezon who recently left VMware to join Microsoft as its director of enterprise evangelism. Dave McCrory also recently left VMware to join Warner Brothers. He served as one of the chief developers of VMware’s Cloud Foundry, the platform as a service.
And in January, CTO Steve Herrod left to join General Catalyst as a managing director investing and supporting early-stage enterprise companies.
Catégories: News informatiques
Techcrunch - ven, 24.05.2013 - 17:14
There are a number of password management solutions on the market today, but CommonKey, a new browser extension out this week, has a different take. Instead of focusing only on the needs of the individual user or offering a complex solution for the enterprise, it provides a password management system which allows small businesses the ability to share passwords securely across a team.
The bootstrapped, Baltimore-based startup was co-founded this October by Andrew Stroup, a civilian engineer who currently works at the Department of Defense, and Michael Cohen, whose programming background is in the medical sector. Obviously, both of these industries involve a deep awareness and understanding of security and privacy.
Stroup today works in the realm of countering weapons of mass destruction, and no, he can’t talk much about his work there.
But he can talk about the fact that he’s also now appearing on the Discovery Channel’s “The Big Brain Theory” show (get it? brain not bang?), which he had signed up for prior to having the idea for CommonKey. Filming has since wrapped, but the show ate into a couple of months’ time back in the early days of the company. He explains interest in being on the program was personal, describing it as “nerd heaven,” and equating it to a “Top Chef for engineers.”
During the competition, Stroup got to build robots, basic missile defense systems, and designed a system to protect the payload on the back of the truck, among other things.
“It was tough for me to step away,” he says of the experience. “But it was one of those things where I left college being told that I would never be able to design, build and deliver a system from cradle to grave again, and the show was an opportunity to do that eight times. And part of the reason why CommonKey attracted me, too, is that I was able to start that process over again – starting an entire idea from two guys, and then seeing that all the way through.”
CommonKey has launched as an extension for the Chrome web browser, but the plan is to soon bring it to Firefox, Safari then to iOS and Android as a mobile app. It works a lot like any other password manager available today, except that in its case, a business owner can create an organization and groups within that organization (e.g., PR, marketing, development, sales, etc.) in order to securely share common passwords among the team.
Users establish their own CommonKey accounts, which they can also use for one-click logins to personal services like Facebook, Twitter, email or anything else that’s not work-related. In fact, the service works just fine if you wanted to use it as an individual, and will also soon include a feature that automatically generates strong passwords for you, too.
However, when added to a team, users then gain access to company accounts, all of which are available in the same drop-down box.
Stroup says he got the idea after spending time engaging with tech startups, and seeing how they shared their accounts among the team.
During its beta period, CommonKey’s service is free, but the plan is to eventually charge companies based on number of employees with access to shared accounts. Pricing has not yet been set, though.
The CommonKey extension is available for download here.
Catégories: News informatiques
Techcrunch - ven, 24.05.2013 - 16:20
We’re less than a week out from our Austin TC Meetup + Pitch-Off, and I can already smell the barbeque in the air. Austin, are you ready to rumble?
The event begins promptly at 6pm and runs until 10pm. Tickets are $5 each, and include booze.
But, you ask, what exactly is this fabled TC Meetup + Pitch-off that I’m pushing?
Well, at its core its a gathering of your city’s local VC, entrepreneurial, startup and general tech crowd. Attendees can socialize, drink booze (21 and up please) and maybe even meet a few really cool people. But that’s not all.
The TC Meetup + Pitch-off is equal parts meetup and pitch-off, which is a competition that lets entrepreneurs and founders pitch their products to a panel of judges with only sixty seconds to make their plea. Even if the ideas aren’t interesting (which they totally are), there’s real entertainment value in watching someone battle against a clock.
Our NY Meetup + Pitch-Off was a smashing success. PaddleYou was spotted in Hardware Alley after coming in third at the Pitch-Off, while runners up Talkz and winner 3DLT both made it into the Disrupt Battlefield.
Applications are currently closed for the Austin pitch-off, but tickets to the event are still available here. We still have some startup tables left where you can demo your product to the attendees and TC staff. If you have any questions about the tables, please email Megan Lehn.
Our sponsors help make events happen. If you are interested in learning more about sponsorship opportunities, please contact our sponsorship team here firstname.lastname@example.org.
Catégories: News informatiques