Didn’t get a ticket to the Crunchies before they sold out? Miss the live stream?
Don’t sweat it — we brought the whole thing back to you in glorious HD. From the Broadway-style opener by the incredibly talented Spencer Rose to the spot-on roasting of Silicon Valley by host John Oliver, it’s all here.
(Heads up: there’s an audio hiccup at the 8 minute mark, when the show moved over to the podium; it gets fixed at the 12 minute mark.)
Congratulations, again, to all of our winners.
Did men like this used to sit atop the technology industry? Atop our country?
Tom Perkins, once an icon in the venture industry and now a spectacle, gave yet another talk last night at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. A few weeks ago, he thrust himself into the nation’s inequality debate through a letter to the editor at the Wall Street Journal that compared criticism of the wealthy to a “Kristallnacht.” (Yes, really.) He says this will be his last two cents on the issue.
There was the classism: “If you’ve paid 75 percent of your lifetime earnings to the government, you’ve been persecuted.”
The vague sexism: “When [Hilary Clinton] walks into a room, the temperature drops 20 degrees.”
The vague racism: “[Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty] unknowingly created the destruction of lower-class families in America. Back in the early 1960s and 70s, the divorce rates between white and black marriages were about equal. But the War on Poverty made it possible for single mothers to live without a working man in the household and divorce rates have skyrocketed.”
Then the absurd: “If Germany had America’s gun laws, we would have never had Hitler.”
And maybe even more absurdly, his ex-wife and novelist Danielle Steel sat supportively in the audience. “I think he’s wonderful and he did a great job,” she said to me before she briskly left.
But then there was also self-awareness.
“I intended to be outrageous and I was,” he said, after suggesting that people should only be given the right to vote if they’ve paid taxes.
And some painful truth about the United States:
“We’re on a knife’s edge with this incredible debt, which can’t be paid back. It’s supported by faith in the dollar.”
And San Francisco:
“San Francisco doesn’t like the experience of becoming a suburb of Silicon Valley.” He added, “I don’t think there’s much you can do about that. It’s inevitable. As Silicon Valley thrives, more and more people will want to live in San Francisco.” And then went on, “San Francisco has been a very complex, busy, and interesting city since Day 1. I love it. But rents will go up if more people want to live here, and while housing is being built, it’s not being built fast enough.”
And this generation of technology entrepreneurs:
“They’re not starting companies. They’re writing software applications, which are products. There’s a huge difference between a product and a company. Their only room for liquidity is to sell to Google or Apple. Most of them fail.”
He veers from one reality to the next, from a distant past that got us here, into the present.
It’s the kind of political theater that’s sadly become necessary for San Francisco’s denizens to wake up from their smartphones and have a conversation. But maybe that’s why Perkins is such a captivating figure.
The conflict between taxi drivers and urban transportation startups in France is not over — the French government has put a stop to new limo driver licenses for the next two months. This decision comes after a strike organized by taxi drivers on Monday. An arbitrer was appointed on Wednesday to find a solution for the longstanding opposition between taxi drivers and so-called black car services.
In other words, startups will have to fight for the same drivers for now — the pool of drivers won’t be increasing. For example, Chauffeur-Privé will have to lure Uber drivers so that they switch to Chauffeur-Privé.
As a reminder, the cab industry is very regulated in France. There is a fixed amount of licenses available. If you want to become a cab driver, you have to purchase a taxi license from an existing driver. These licenses can cost up to $270,000 (€200,000).
Cab drivers consider LeCab, Chauffeur-privé, SnapCar, Allocab, Uber and countless of others as direct competitors — it’s much cheaper to get a limo driver license. Taxi Drivers say it’s unfair, and that taxi licenses will lose a lot of value due to urban transportation startups.
In December, the government created the 15-minute law for Uber, Chauffeur-Privé and others. Drivers had to wait 15 minutes between the time a customer hails them and they let them in the car. Most startups didn’t even try to comply with the rule, and it was recently suspended by the Conseil d’État.
Taxi driver unions said that they would regularly go on strike to protest that decision. The government had to do something so that startups and taxi drivers could talk again. That’s why Thomas Thévenoud was appointed. He is in charge of finding a “fair and durable solution that will benefit everyone while taking into account the different needs in terms of urban transportation.”
It’s no small feat. The situation in Paris will be the main issue as there is a dearth of taxi drivers in Paris. He plans to present a solution in exactly two months. But for now, a limo license freeze doesn’t seem like a “fair and durable solution.”
(Photo credit: Maxime Bonzi)
We’re rolling into your fine cities next week. The Atlanta Meetup is on Tuesday, Feb. 18 and New Orleans is Thursday, Feb. 20. Along with the meet-and-greet networking found at these meetups, there will be a 60 second pitch-off battle. The full list of companies can be found below.
For the pitch-off, we will have 3-5 judges, including TechCrunch writers and local VCs, who will decide on the winners. First place will receive a table in Startup Alley at the upcoming TechCrunch Disrupt NY; second place will receive two tickets to TechCrunch Disrupt NY; and third place will receive one ticket.
Are you a funded startup? Local employer? A company looking for a few good code ninjas? Consider emailing Sponsors@techcrunch.com to help support the event. If you’d like to exhibit, please pop over to Eventbrite and help out below. The goal is to make this a great event for everyone and we can’t do that without your help. Bootstrapping and can’t afford a table? Let John or myself know. Matt@techcrunch.com or email@example.com.
General admission tickets are only $5 thanks to our amazing sponsors. Age 21 and older only, please. See you there!Atlanta
- My Cluck Cluck
- Production Operations Desk
- The Icon
- niko niko
- Education Everytime
- Tutti Dynamics
- Air Pee and Pee
FounderDating, a selective network where entrepreneurs can find co-founders, is adding a new way to pick up advisors. Advisors, who are usually paid with a small cut of equity, can bring lessons learned from years of in-the-field experience.
But Jessica Alter, FounderDating’s CEO, said that finding the right advisors is often difficult. How do you know where to find people with ultra-specific domain expertise?
“How do we connect with entrepreneurs with the most relevant people and the most relevant information in their heads?” she asked.
So she’s adding the ability to search for advisors by skill set and interest through the FounderDating network. The platform, which she started working on full-time about a year and a half ago, costs about $50 to join.
But it’s a highly curated network and Alter turns away about 60 percent of the people who want to join. She didn’t say how many members the network had.
“The people part remains exceedingly hard, even though it’s cheaper and easier to start something than it was five to eight years ago,” she said. “We’re the people network for entrepreneurs.”
Initially, she focused on connecting potential co-founders. The teams FounderDating has produced include Refresh.io, which just raised $10 million, Velo Labs, which is building some kind of Internet-of-Things device for bicycles, AvidTap, and ReferBright.
The next step is naturally advising, and some of the advisors in the network include Aaron Batalion, who co-founded LivingSocial, Josh Handy, a vice president of products at Method and Katherine Woo, who is chief product officer at Kiva.
To make it even easier, Alter also added streamlined paperwork with the help of law firms like Gunderson Dettmer and Orrick. So there’s an advisor agreement where most of the terms are pretty standard, but where the entrepreneur and advisor still have leeway to decide on equity.
Overall, FounderDating has raised a seed round from investors including SoftTech, 500 Startups, Greylock’s Discovery Fund, Steve Blank and Kapor Capital.
Alter said FounderDating sits in a slightly different place than other professionally focused networks like AngelList and LinkedIn do.
She said LinkedIn looks backwards into the past at a person’s resume, while FounderDating looks into the future.
“Many founders don’t want to do work in the last field they were in,” she said. “Maybe they were in music, but their last company got sold and now their real passion is in education.”
FounderDating is also not for recruiting, unlike AngelList, which moved into hiring and direct fundraising after starting off as a curated list of possible early-stage startup investments.
A Modest Proposal (for preventing anonymity startups from being a burthen to us, and for making them beneficial to us)
“Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.” And all seem to be doing it about the new class of apps that rest on the premise of anonymity and/or ephemerality.
The most recent in this breed, two-week old Secret, is already ensconced in the home screen of what seems to be every iPhone in Silicon Valley’s social circles, thereby provoking the knee-jerk reaction from naysayers arguing that it harbors that all-too-familiar addictive quality we also find in trashy magazines, reality TV shows and fast food. Their bottom line is that this app, which allows users to anonymously post secrets, is a flash-in-the-pan that can make us feel bad about ourselves and therefore will likely die a quick death like many addictive apps before it. And maybe it will. But that’s not the point.Anonymity’s Growing Pains
Yes, at their current state, apps like Secret and Snapchat are flawed. By virtue of its anonymity, all’s fair in Secret. Users in the app can post anything spanning from philosophical musings about life to darker, targeted and potentially revealing sentiments about specific people and companies. It’s already being pegged as Silicon Valley’s new blind item and has, by extension of that, the potential to become a kind of high-school style slam book or lulu for everyone.
What’s more is that, to some extent, these types of apps can condone a certain amount of (let’s call it) irresponsible user behavior. They can enable false rumors to spread and encourage everything from cyber bullying to slander. And even when what’s shared is honest and reliable, there are always cases of information too sensitive for certain eyes to see, as in the case of, say, insider-trading violations. Also, the jury is still out on whether or not they are ultimately anonymous services. These are serious issues.Why You Can’t Throw Out The Baby With The Bathwater
But judging a fledgling product or group of products is like judging a baby’s potential to be a runner with her very first steps. It can distract us from understanding the problem it’s scratching away at, the nerve it hit.
If we dismissed Twitter, for instance, with every inaccurate rumor it surfaced, we’d never see it evolve into the breakthrough broadcast communication system it is today. If a company’s strategy is a cup of water, and we’re rooting for the company to turn this cup upside down and dump it, how will we know the fledgling problem-solving strategy we may have lost? To top off our proverbial cups and quote a line from the film ‘For Your Consideration,’ “you can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, because then all you have is a wet, critically injured baby.”The Nerve Of Anonymity Apps
At their best, apps like Secret and Snapchat allow us to share something with others without rendering us too vulnerable. And perhaps more interestingly, they also likely scratch our itch to get honest, emotionally intelligent information from actual people. And the timing for this itch makes sense.
When we first started using the Internet, we wanted to be able to efficiently find information that was on it. Enter Google and other search products. Then we wanted to connect with real people on it. Enter Facebook and other social products. It’s only natural that we now want to combine the type of information we can get from people – emotive-based data like social proof — with the efficiency of obtaining information via Google.
One may argue that products like Quora or Jelly satiate that itch. To some extent, that’s true. But some information — the type you’d want to, say, privately share with someone to help them avoid a mistake you’ve made without you yourself suffering any additional personal repercussions (e.g. a bad hire, boss, nanny or even friend) — still remains, for the most part, in the analog world. This means that if you don’t personally know the person who has the information you might want — or, even if you do, don’t feel comfortable enough to ask about it — you’re out of luck. This is the background problem that anonymity apps are essentially chipping away at.
So outside of the more obvious cathartic use case of expressing a secret with the potential to connect with others around it (which deserves its own merit), there’s this other key problem that these types of products hint at addressing: There’s useful information we want to know that people consciously hide for an array of self-preservation reasons. How do we allow the free release of this private information and one’s self preservation to evolve beyond their current mutually exclusive state?
Let’s take a quick dip in that proverbial bath, in the spirit of Archimedes. Let’s say Secret (or a similar product) were to release a search feature that would allow you to anonymously search for anything posted in the app. And let’s say you are about to hire someone and just want to do a quick sanity search on their name. A Google search will likely produce a mirror, more or less, of their resume. But Secret may reveal aspects of their work ethic or personality from people who have actually worked with this person.
Naturally, we’ll have to solve the aforementioned problems we have around the accuracy and sensitivity of the information before we get there — and that’s no small feat. It will likely require a sophisticated and efficient method of background vetting via up-to-the-minute intelligence around everything spanning from the source of the information to the relative context of the information within the greater pool of inflowing tips.
But the potential inherent usefulness of this type of information — which can range in subject from personal finance to health to relationships, the things that tend to matter most to us — is what drives us to itch for this type of product.At This Fledgling Stage, We’ll Get Toys
The products and services that are, in one way or another, chipping away at answering this question will likely first come across as toys, because toys have the potential to engage us more than staring a big problem blankly in the face.
But focusing on the toy aspect of a fast-growing app’s flaws is much like the smaller ‘discussing people’ mindset. Let’s move up from discussing products like people. Let’s put them in context and start considering them, at least to some extent, as ideas. That’s likely when we’ll break through the current issues we have with anonymity and understand where it will take us next.
Editor’s note: Maya Baratz is the Head of New Products at ABC News. She previously ran new product development at The Wall Street Journal, and before that was a product lead at startups including Flickr. Follow her on Twitter @mbaratz.
Image by Shutterstock
Smart home lighting is a growing field, with entrants including Philips and LIFX, but one other new contender has a different approach that might appeal more to some. The Brightup system consists of plug socket hardware and in-wall dimmers, connected to and controlled by a central hub via Z-Wave RF tech, to provide remote dimming and intelligent behavior/programming to any and all lighting systems in your house.
The Brightup offers remote control of your lights, but that’s just the beginning. It also has geofencing so that lights can be set to turn on or off when you enter or leave the house; there’s an ambient light detector that can tell when you turn on the TV to automatically dim your lights for improved viewing conditions; the same ambient light sensor detects fading natural light and can tell when the sun comes up in the morning to control light levels. Random scheduling will simulate being home even when you’re away, and you can use lights to let you know a timer has gone off, which is handy for cooking, for instance.
The system’s components are nicely designed, and the project creators say you shouldn’t need outside help for installation. Brightup also measures and records energy usage, and provides remote access that you can share with family members and friends. The in-wall modules look a little more complex in terms of installation, but they should work in your existing receptacles behind the light switches you already have according to Brightup, which means no new holes required.
The Hamburg-based company is looking to raise €130,000 ($178,000 U.S.) on Indiegogo over the next 46 days to build Brightup, with starter packs including a central unit and three in-wall or socket connectors for €199 ($272 U.S.). The cost is considerable; A Philips Hue starter set runs $199 and includes three bulbs plus the central control hub, but Brightup works with lighting other than what comes in the package, and Hue is really an entirely different kind of product.
As the connected home and home automation space gets more crowded, it’s interesting to see the different approaches companies are taking to solve essentially the same problems. Brightup’s system has plenty of merit, but it’s competing with some heavy hitters already in the mainstream market including Belkin’s WeMo line. With Z-Wave and an open API, it does seem one of the more extensible and future-proof options out there, however, so that may play a role in getting customers on board.
UrbanSitter, an online service for parents and sitters to connect, has raised $15 million in Series B funding led by DBL Investors with participation from Match Group, a division of IAC and newly launched VC firm Aspect Ventures, as well as existing investors Canaan Partners, First Round Capital, Menlo Ventures and Rustic Canyon Partners.
UrbanSitter harnesses the power of social recommendations in a space where a friend’s recommendation is critical—child care. UrbanSitter leverages Facebook Connect so parents can view sitters that their friends already know, trust and recommend. You sign up on the site, and connect your Facebook account, and can view sitters known through friends or affiliations—including schools, sports teams and parent groups.
Parents can view each sitter’s reviews, skills and certifications, experience, educational background, response time and the number of repeat families. Parents can also see profile pictures and video of sitters and availability, hourly rates and typical response times are also outlined. The bonus of using UrbanSitter is that it manages all the payments on both ends of the transaction.
Similar to how people use OpenTable for dinner reservations, parents can search for sitter availability by date and time and then book jobs (or interviews) in real-time. After the job is completed, parents can pay online and add reviews, ratings and Facebook Likes to sitter profiles. You can also search for sitters by various filters such as part-time, full-time, etc.
UrbanSitter is available in a dozen U.S. cities, and also offers mobile apps to allow parents to book sitters on the go.
To me, the power of UrbanSitter is taking the offline action of finding a babysitter through friends and recommendations, and bringing that online. Competitor Care.com, which has a broader goal of finding caregivers for kids, seniors and more, just went public at a valuation of well over $500 million so there is clearly a large opportunity here.
Lover.ly, the Pinterest for wedding planning, has been dominating the categorization and aggregation of awesome wedding content. Brides who visit the site are instantly able to search by vendor, color pattern, product type, theme, and most anything else. Except weddings.
Today, on the company’s second anniversary, all that changes. Lover.ly users can now upload photos of their wedding in a set, which is searchable. This way, users who see a dress they love can click through to see the entire wedding, as well as all the vendors that worked on that wedding from photographer to cake maker and back again.
“We’re taking what has traditionally been an offline, one-to-one experience and bringing it online,” said founder Kellee Khalil. “Brides are always calling up their friends and asking which vendor they used for the dress or the venue, and it ends up being a lot of work to track down all that information. With Real Weddings, users can share everything about their wedding with a single link.”
To deal with quality control, Lover.ly will let all brides upload their photos to a specific URL, but only approved photos and weddings will be made searchable.
The Real Weddings platform will launch with more than 4,800 real weddings right from the get-go.
Lover.ly has an e-commerce platform for brands that want to get in on the action, with a cost-per-click business model. That same platform will be tied in to the Real Weddings.
Lover.ly has been growing steadily since its launch on Valentine’s Day two years ago. The company has seen over 100,000 iPhone app downloads, 50 million images viewed each month, and have grown to show off over 2,500 brands and 250,000 SKUs. For some perspective, Lover.ly launched its ecommerce platform with only four brand partners, and has now become the largest online wedding shop in the world.
Also, Happy Valentine’s Day.
A new Kickstarter project aims to make your GoPro filmography easier to handle, with a case designed to hold the GoPro in such a way that you have a full view of the screen of your iPhone 5s or 5, so that you can monitor all the action while you shoot one-handed.
There are no shortage of iPhone cases that offer double-duty performance with some other task, be it acting as a wallet, or opening beers, or propping up your iPhone itself, but the GoPhone might have just the right feature mix for the action hero in your life. It features a hump at one end that’s designed to allow you to slide in your GoPro’s quick release buckle, giving you full access to the screen at any orientation.
The iPhone still connects to the GoPro in the traditional manner – wirelessly, using the camera’ s inbuilt Wi-Fi connectivity, but now a shooter can watch the action as they film while operating as a follow cam, which is particularly useful if you’re trying to capture your buddy showing off at the skatepark or on the bike track.
It’ll come in multiple colors when it ships, and offers not only live video while shooting, but also a quick and easy way to review footage just shot without having to put down one mount and pick up your phone. Australian project creators Andrew Dorn and Carson Tully have aimed for an economy of design here, and they’ve also spent months testing it in real-world situations at the skatepark. Tully is an industrial designer and illustrator, and Dorn works in the film industry and previously created an iPhone app called ‘Ramped Slow Mo.’
The GoPhone case is seeking $15,000 AUD ($13,538 U.S.) in funding over the next 60 days, with backers at the $40 level securing a pre-order. If all goes according to plan, the accessory should ship this September.
I have a date tonight. And it’s with Frank Underwood. The entire second season of the Emmy award winning series is now available for your enjoyment on Netflix.
The broad strokes are well known. House of Cards is an amazing TV show only available on Netflix, proving that with the right amount of cash, quality TV shows can be made and distributed outside traditional channels. Starring Kevin Spacey. Robin Wright and Kate Mara, House of Cards focuses on the delicate politics of Washington D.C and, well, the house of cards that is America’s government.
Watch the show. Just remember, it is not healthy to binge. Take plenty of breaks.
A new crowdsourced marketplace aiming to connect up budding coders with businesses needing to find developers to do one-off project work has launched today in beta in the U.K.
Called Coding Cupboard it’s the sister side of Concept Cupboard — a creative industries talent-finding web platform that launched this time last year aiming to connect students/recent graduates with businesses wanting design work doing.
The basic concept of both sites, which have been privately funded to date, is to pull in a pool of young professionals just starting out on their careers, and thus in a position to mobilize for freelance work, and match them up with businesses that have smaller jobs that need doing quickly — via a pitch and response process.
That template — deployed in the creative industries space — was evidently successful enough for the founders to expand their Cupboard brand to tech dev work with today’s launch.
Why expand to coding? Well there’s obviously continued rising demand among businesses for digital development work, with the proliferation of apps and other digital technologies. While, on the student side, the number of new computer science students is growing in the U.K., with more than 21,500 accepted into universities last year, a year-on-year bump of 12% according to HESA data — more growth than in any other subject.
Youth unemployment has also been a huge problem during the U.K.’s recession. Although the national economy is improving, it’s still tough for young people to find work — and therefore hard for them to gain the experience employers look for to land full-time roles. This unwelcoming job market gives Coding Cupboard its opportunity to push in, reckons co-founder Adam Ball, himself a recent computer science graduate.
“We’re a business with a social purpose of tackling youth unemployment. We’re helping young people to show what they can do whilst also helping businesses source coding at a more affordable rate than established freelancers & agencies,” he tells TechCrunch. ”Our main competitors would be people like Elance, oDesk etc. We’re unique because we focus on the extraordinary undiscovered talent that students have.”
“We work closely with careers departments to get their students using the site,” he adds.
Ball, who joined the company as an intern on Concept Cupboard and now runs both sites (and also built Coding Cupboard), adds that with youth unemployment being a global issue the company has a roadmap to take Coding Cupboard to markets outside the U.K.
For now, though, this is a U.K. launch.
“We’re starting by offering projects such as website builds, mobile apps, custom coding and social media projects,” adds Ball, detailing the initial offering. ”A business signs up, uses our simple step by step briefing tool (so that even the plumber can use it) and launched their project to our coding community.”
Coding Cupboard is launching with 50+ businesses signed up to the new platform, beefed up by businesses that use Concept Cupboard being ported over — meaning it has more than 1,000+ businesses pitching projects. (Concept Cupboard has some 1,200+ businesses on that site, and 4,700+ creatives — and has so far helped students earn more than £100,000+, according to Ball).
The business model for the company is to charge businesses a listing fee for projects (this is a percentage of their budget for the work but is added on top of the money that goes to the student) but for Coding Cupboard’s launch it’s waiving the fee.
Later this year, it will also be rolling out a “recruitment proposition” to further expand the revenue generation opportunities for the business, adds Ball.
The other co-founders of Coding Cupboard are marketing agency veteran Guy McConnell, formerly a Board Director at Black Cat; Simon Devonshire, Director of Telefonica’s regional incubator academy network, Wayra Europe, and previously General Manager of Small and Medium Business at O2; and Julie Cheetham, also previously a Black Cat Board Director.
Google has a Valentine’s Day doodle for their search homepage, the way they do every year. This one is fairly elaborate, however, and features stories supplied by Ira Glass and NPR’s This American Life (if you’re in the U.S.). Each story is animated using simple illustrations drawn on candy hearts, and each tells a story of love from a different perspective.
The video above shows the making of Google’s Valentine’s Day doodle, as described by the Doodler team within the company to TIME’s NewsFeed. You can see that a lot of work goes into the creation of any Google Doodle, but this one is especially elaborate. It’s also interesting to see how the animator has to balance considerations like what’s possible from an engineering perspective with mundane worries like file size.
Google is serving up a different doodle for international visitors, which features a mix-your-own box of chocolates that you can then actually send to your sweetie, and the company is also adding animated floating hearts to your Google+ photo uploads depicting hugging and kissing. They manage this using their Auto Awesome photo enhancing feature, and it’s yet another example of just how advanced Google is getting with regards to photo analysis and editing automation.
This may not be everyone’s favorite holiday, but Google’s approach to celebrating it is pretty adorable, even if you’re essentially a curmudgeon when it comes to chocolates, flowers and paper hearts.
London-based Blaze has officially launched it’s innovative front bike light with a laser projection, and starts shipping worldwide at the end of this month. The Laserlight is the first of its kind, and was a finalist at the TechCrunch Hardware Battlefield at CES earlier this year. Blaze has also announced that it has raised $500,000 in seed funding from Index Ventures and the Branson family – as in Sir Richard Branson. Founder Emily Brooke says she is planning to develop Blaze as a full-blown cycling brand, built around what she calls the “urban cycling” market. I must say it’s been a fascinating journey watching this genuinely original product come to market.
Designed to tackle the primary cause of cycling accidents – vehicles turning into the path of an unseen bicycle – the Blaze Laserlight projects the image of a bike 5-6 metres onto the road ahead. It’s available to order worldwide today on the Blaze website, shipping starts on February 26.
Brooke worked with cyclists, statisticians, the Brighton & Hove Council and Bus Company and driving psychologist Dr. Graham Hole to understand the threat to cyclists, before coming up with the Laserlight, which was backed via a Kickstarter campaign .
“Cycling is booming – over half a million journeys are made by bike in London every day,” says Brooke,”But this year in London alone, there have already been a 14 fatalities.” She hopes her invention can help prevent at least some future fatalities from ever happening.
Holly and Sam Branson – the daughter and son of Sir Richard – were quoted in a statement saying “We see a huge amount of potential in Blaze as an urban cycling brand and so we wanted to get involved.”
The Blaze Laserlight has a powerful laser diode robust enough to withstand road vibrations and is waterproof.Hardware Battlefield presentation
We have been trying to speak with Dhingana CEO Rohit Bhatia for past few weeks, but he’s been requesting more time for bringing clarity on the startup’s future. Dhingana is among the top-funded music startups in India. It raised $7 million in Series B funding in October last year from Lightspeed Venture Partners, Inventus Capital Partners and Helion Venture Partners.
Dhingana’s website is now showing this goodbye message:
We hope that you enjoyed listening to Dhingana as much as we enjoyed building it.
But alas, all good things must come to an end.
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for letting us be a part of your musical moments!
- The Dhingana Team
As Medianama noted, there are some harsh realities facing the Indian music streaming services. One of the biggest challenges is working with music labels and lack of standardization in signing those agreements. Another issue is music piracy – India’s media and entertainment industry loses about $4 billion every year due to copyright infringement.
Dhingana started facing a crisis when its biggest partner — T Series — said it will not renew the agreement. T-Series president Neeraj Kalyan had confirmed to TechCrunch, that the company will not renew the license set to expire for nearly 8,000 songs from Dhingana’s catalogue. Until then, Dhingana’s CEO had said discussions were on for exploring the road ahead, and it all looked like a near-death experience. But it’s all over now for Dhingana.
As we had reported in December last year, Gaana.com (backed by Times Internet Ltd) and Saavn (the Spotify for Indian music), continue to survive and even expand their services, thanks to the deep pockets and some innovative business models. Their success also reflects that the digital music scene in India may not be so gloomy after all. Gaana for instance, has around 7.5 million monthly active users.
However, the streaming business has to become a paid service sometime soon to ensure independent startups are able to scale and survive.
“The streaming business has to slowly move from free economy to paid economy as sustainability of ad-supported revenue model is a big question mark. Free music is a very dangerous thing, and we would not like our next generation grow up believing music is for free,” Neeraj Kalyan, president of T-Series had told me December last year.
We are still trying to speak with Dhingana’s CEO and its investors. We will update this story after we hear back from them.
Meanwhile, Dhingana’s shutdown underscores some of the existential questions faced by startups in India’s online music, entertainment space. Curbing piracy and ensuring a healthier ecosystem where music labels and streaming services working more closely can help, but it might take longer, and Dhingana could not wait that long.
Wearables are so hot right now. Apple iWatch rumours are in rude health. Google is apparently looking (beyond Glass) at picking up and strapping onto its business another startup in the wearables space (guesses for which in the comments pls).
Jawbone, maker of the UP fitness tracker bangle (and apparently not the company in Google’s Glassy sights), is running sweat-free towards an IPO. Action camera maker GoPro — ok, not technically a wearables company but the point of its cameras are that they are, y’know, wearable — has already filed for one. Smartwatch maker Pebble has raised a tonne of money since 2012, first via Kickstarter and then, off the back of its snowballing crowdfunder, from VC checkbooks.
Even though the genuine usefulness of bits of technology that you strap to your person still has a lot of proving to do – vs the intrusion (both visual, with a lot of these early devices being best described as uuuuuuuugggglllyyy; and, more importantly, the sensitive personal data being captured and monetized) – it’s the big huge lucrative potential that’s exciting makers and investors.
Mature Western markets are saturated with smartphones — ergo step forward sensor-stuffed wearables as the next growth engine for device makers. Devices whose literal positioning on our bodies enables them to gather far more intimate data on the lives and (physical) habits of users than previous generations of consumer mobiles. If only we can be persuaded to wear this stuff.
Yesterday analyst Canalys suggested 2014 will be the year for the wearables category becomes a “key consumer technology” — with more than 17 million wearable bands (alone) forecast to ship this year, rising to 23 million by 2015, and more than 45 million by 2017.
So that’s only wearable tech targeting the wrist, such as the Fitbit fitness tracker and Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch — it does not include devices aiming to squat on other body-parts (such as Google Glass). In short: tech makers gonna put a smart ring on it. Many are already trying.
On the ‘who is already making what’ front, wearable tech research and consulting firm Vandrico has put together this neat overview of the space — tracking the number of devices in existence; areas of market focus; and even which parts of the body are being targeted most.
(The most popular anatomical target for wearables is the wrists, since you’re curious — with 56 devices vying for that small patch of flesh; followed by the head, with 34 devices wanting to cling to it. On the flip side, the least popular body part for wearables thus far is apparently the hand, with just two devices listed, although the data doesn’t delve into the crotch region, so, yeah, there’s there too. Makers apparently not falling over themselves to fashion iCodpieces…).
According to Vandrico, there are some 115 wearables in play already; with an average selling price of $431; and with lifestyle, fitness and medical being the most popular market areas targeted (in that order).
The researcher has also taken the time to list and profile every single one of the 115 wearables it reckons are currently in play, so you don’t have to — from 3L Labs Footlogger to the ZTE Bluewatch (another mobile maker doing a smartwatch, who knew?).
Or at least all of the wearables its research has turned up. It’s asking for submissions for missing devices so it can keep expanding this database. (I’m going to throw the Fin into the ring on that front.)
Click here to check out — and start quantifying — the data for yourself.
Well that was fast. Just a few days after it was revealed that Groupon product chief Jeff Holden was leaving the daily deals giant to join a “Bay Area tech company,” we now know where he has landed. Uber announced this morning that it has hired Holden as its new Chief Product Officer.
Holden joined Groupon in 2011 after his startup Pelago was acquired. Pelago made a Foursquare-like, location-based check-in product called Whrrl, but it was shut down and Holden & co. were integrated into the Groupon product team.
Prior to Pelago, Holden had spent years at Amazon where he was an early hire. Starting there in 1997, he held various roles in the supply-chain optimization and consumer applications divisions of the online retailer. He oversaw many aspects of the Amazon site experience, including search and personalization, and led the development of Amazon Prime.
At Uber, Holden will report to CEO Travis Kalanick and lead the product team in San Francisco. While his experience at Amazon and Groupon point to his ability to scale large product organizations, Kalanick also called out Holden’s “passion, discipline and imagination” from his time as an entrepreneur that will be invaluable in his role at the on-demand ride startup.
This is just the most recent in a series of big hires that Uber has made. Last September the company hired Google exec Brent Callinicos as its CFO, Klout COO Emil Michael as its VP of Business, and Facebook Head of International Growth Ed Baker as its Head of Growth.
UPDATE: Here’s what Holden had to say (by email):
A lot of people talk about the rare company that accomplishes this or that cool thing, but Uber takes rarity and specialness to the next level. It’s a notoriously difficult entrepreneurial challenge to create a thriving two-sided marketplace from scratch. But to do it as quickly as Uber with such a magical experience, and to simultaneously have the strategic foresight and wherewithal to relentlessly start from the customer and work backward is another thing altogether. Yet this is truly day one at Uber: The vision far transcends what is visible today. The idea of being on this journey with this amazing team is truly awesome.
Here’s the text of Kalanick’s blog post:
I’m super-pumped to announce that Jeff Holden is joining Uber as our Chief Product Officer. I can’t imagine a better fit for Uber’s entrepreneurial culture and world-changing mission. He will be a strong strategic thought partner for the executive team and someone with whom I can spar to solve Uber’s hardest problems and invent our future. Having experienced Amazon’s hyper-growth from the very early days, Jeff knows how to think big while building for the long-term and scaling a world-class product organization. But the icing on the cake is the force multiplier of Jeff having been an entrepreneur in his own right. The passion, discipline and imagination that comes from being an entrepreneur is invaluable, and when those characteristics can spread through your organization at scale, the potential is limitless. I have high hopes for our new partner in the business, and I know Jeff is up for meeting and exceeding them. Welcome to the team!
The deal is the latest and largest in an aggressive acquisition spree by Rakuten as it seeks to “become the world’s No. 1 Internet services company,” it said, and marks its entry into the global messaging market.
Viber can now potentially add Rakuten Group’s approximately 225 million members to its existing user base of 300 million registered users.
The Rakuten-Viber pairing may pose a significant new challenge to Line, which announced that had 300 million registered users back in November 2013 and is aiming for the 500 million milestone in 2014. Like Line, Viber users can also purchase and send stickers to one another, and it recently added Viber Out, which enables free calls to mobile and landline numbers. Viber’s apps do not currently have games, one of Line’s key draws, but CEO Hiroshi Mikitani hinted that games are part of Rakuten’s plans for the messaging service.
In a statement, Mikitani said:
I am tremendously excited to welcome Viber to the Rakuten family. Viber delivers the most consistently high quality and convenient messaging and VoIP experience available. Additionally, Viber has introduced a great sticker market and has tremendous potential as a gaming platform.
Over the last two years, Rakuten’s acquisitions have included: e-reading platform Kobo for $315 million in cash; Spanish streaming video service Wuaki.tv for an undisclosed amount; and Viki, a global video streaming platform that crowdsources translated subtitles, for a reported $200 million.
In addition to its shopping spree, Rakuten was also a lead investor in the $100 million round that valued Pinterest at $1.5 billion in May 2012. It has also set up a $10 million fund to invest in startups primarily from Southeast Asia, which has one of the world’s fastest-growing mobile marketplaces, as well as Taiwan.
The news comes just two days after Viber Media denied a report that it was in talks to be acquired by an instant messaging company from Asia for $300 million to $400 million.
Xiaomi just announced that it will launch in Singapore on Feb. 21. This is a significant move because it marks the company’s first expansion beyond China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan six months after naming Google’s former Android vice president Hugo Barra as the head of Xiaomi Global in a surprise announcement.
The company unveiled its Singapore site earlier this week. The only product currently featured is the Redmi, Xiaomi’s cheapest Android phone, which will cost just S$169 (or about $133 USD).
Despite its very low price, the Redmi still has some impressive features, like a quad-core processor, a 4.2-inch HD screen, and 8MP camera, that may help it standout from competitors. Xiaomi’s other handsets have also earned kudos for strong specs, attractive design, and Xiaomi’s Android skin, which it customizes by crowdsourcing user feedback.
Singapore makes sense as Xiaomi’s first stop in its international expansion because the country has one of the highest mobile penetration rates in the world. According to Nielsen, 87% of people in Singapore have a smartphone, the same number as in Hong Kong. To put that figure into context, it beats the 71% mobile penetration rate in China, 72% in the UK, and 60% in the U.S.
Xiaomi has grown extremely quickly since launching just three years ago. In 2013, for example, it more than doubled its sales to 18.7 million phones.
Though Xiaomi continues to face strong competition from domestic Android handset makers like Lenovo, ZTE, and Huawei, it has held its own thanks to the high profile of its founder, Chinese tech pioneer Lei Jun, as well as unique marketing strategies, like selling phones directly from Sina Weibo, China’s top microblogging platform.
Xiaomi’s growth plan has worked very well so far: in August 2013, Xiaomi’s market share in China surpassed the iPhone by a small margin, according to Canalys.
Secret, which has fast become everyone’s favorite way to share “anonymish” thoughts with friends and strangers alike, has launched a new program that is designed to find — and squash — bugs in its mobile app before being exposed to the general public.
The launch of the program comes less than a day-and-a-half after a photo began making the rounds on Secret and on Twitter, which appeared to link a user’s email address to posts that they had shared through the app. The Secret team not only squashed the bug almost immediately, but also announced plans to launch the bug bounty for hackers playing around with the app.
And, well, here it is.
Saying that it is “committed to working with this community to verify, reproduce, and respond to legitimate reported vulnerabilities,” the team is asking for researchers to participate in the process of identifying those vulnerabilities and working with it to close them.
In doing so, Secret is asking for hackers to “make a good faith effort” to not violate user privacy, destroy data, or degrade its service. That includes not accessing or violating any data that does not belong to the user, or sharing it with the public before it’s resolved.
The launch comes after hacks and attacks on other apps which promise anonymity or ephemerality that expose user information. In late December, a hack of Snapchat exposed information connected to 4.6 million of its users. It took more than a week for Snapchat to apologize for that incident and release further security features in an effort to ensure a similar incident doesn’t occur again.
For Secret, the whole idea behind the program is to take a proactive approach to finding and eliminating any potential issues in the app that could expose users’ identity or link secrets to them. That protection is necessary in an app in which users can share what could be sensitive information anonymously with each other.
For now, Secret says it’s hoping to “work with great people and learn from others” while closing any bugs and promises gifts to those who participate.