- Fotomoto Lands $1.2 Million, Helps Its Clients Sell Images Online In A Flash
- Google Unveils Wallet And Offers: An Open Platform For Mobile Payments
- Fly Or Die: LiveScribe Connect And The T-Mobile G-Slate
- Reply.com Acquires Marketing Network For Small Businesses MerchantCircle For $60 Million
- Raptr, The Social Gaming Network, Launches First Personalized News Feed For Gamers
- WePay Adds Event Ticketing To Hassle-Free Group Payments Platform
- Google Releases Update To Maps 5.5 For Android
- Zozi Raises $7 Million To Let You Swim With Sharks – And More – At A Discount
- No Spotify Inside Facebook, Two Record Labels Still Needed For US Launch
- mSpot’s RadioSpotter Adds A Pandora-Like Experience To Your Music Collection
- Online Shopping Startup ProjectSlice Raises $9.4 Million From Eric Schmidt, Michael Birch And Others
- Amazon Repeats $0.99 Deal On Lady Gaga Album, Says Servers Won’t Melt This Time
- And The Winner Of TechCrunch Disrupt NYC Is…Getaround!
- Amen: Plazes Founder And First Twitter Engineer Team Up For Mysterious Startup
- Whoops: NFC Partner Spoils Google’s Surprise Tomorrow. ViVOtech One Partner. Citibank Too?
- Getaround Signed Up 1,600 Cars In A Day; That’s 20 Percent Of Zipcar’s Fleet
- Arrington: Sonar (Which Took $250K To Build) Is Better Than Color Could Hope To Be
- Behold: TechCrunch Erupt In Iceland (Pictures)
- Live Blog: TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield Finale
- 4Chan Has 18M Uniques A Month, Canvas Participation Is Optional
- Google Maps For Mobile Crosses 200 Million Installs; In June It Will Surpass Desktop Usage
- Absolute Must Watch: Office Hours With Paul Graham At TC Disrupt
- Qwiki Will Soon Let You Qwiki Yourself
- This Brammo Enertia Electric Motorcyle Was Just Spontaneously Given Away At Disrupt
- Borthwick: Paying Attention in the iPad Era
Posted: 26 May 2011 09:15 AM PDT
Over 12,000 sellers use the company’s on-demand ecommerce system today, which makes for a catalog 2.5 million photos big. Customers range from high-end art photogs to illustrators, Fotomoto CEO Ahmad Kiarostami tells me.
The company has done a lot of hiring lately, explaining the need for additional capital, but Kiarostami says Fotomoto is also close to securing a number of enterprise deals. Already, its solution is integrated into a variety of platforms and photo solutions, as you can see here.
Some of these partners, such as 500px and Photoblog.com, have integrated Fotomoto support deeply into their platforms, enabling users to start selling their photos using the startup’s ecommerce solution in about 5 minutes.
Kiarostami says the company is currently aggregating a wealth of image analytics, which it hopes to make available to its users soon.
On an interesting sidenote: Kiarostami tells me it’s getting so hard to find good engineers in the Bay Area these days, that he had to recruit and relocate his new VP of Engineering, Khash Sajadi, all the way from London, UK.
Posted: 26 May 2011 09:09 AM PDT
We’re here at Google’s massive New York City HQ (they own an entire block) for what Google was calling a “partner event” but everyone knew was really an “NFC event”. Sure enough, Stephanie Tilenius, Google’s VP of Commerce, has taken the stage to announce Google Wallet and Google Offers.
Right off the bat, Tilenius wanted to make it clear that this would be an open platform. She invited “payment networks, carriers, and banks to join us in creating tomorrow's shopping experience”. And some of those partners are already on board. Citi, Mastercard, FirstData, and Sprint are the initial partners.
For Google Wallet, Tilenius says that the field trials will begin today and it will be official out this summer. As expected, it will be using NFC technology. By 2014, Tilenius notes that 50 percent of smartphones will have NFC built into them — that’s 150 million devices.
With Wallet, you’ll be able to add your existing credit cards (though only Citi-backed Mastercards are a partner right now of the major card companies). And it’s a wallet you can lock, Tilenius notes. There are multiple levels of security. There’s the phone lock, a required Google pin, credit card information encryption, and your credit card number is never fully displayed.
Right off the bat, Google Wallet will work with Mastercard Paypass. This means right now 300,000 merchants around the world and 120,000 in the U.S. are technically ready (though it’s not rolling out everywhere yet). It will initially work with “Gcard” a Google pre-paid card set up by Mastercard.
The initial trials will be in San Francisco and New York. Tilenius says this will expand nationally in the coming months.
The other component of the announcement is Google Offers. These work seamlessly with Google Wallet. You find an offer you want, save it to Wallet with a click and you’re ready. You can redeem them by tapping the phone at the point of sale. Or you can show the offer to a cashier.
Initially, Macy’s, Subway, Walgreens, Toys R Us, and more are partners. The first trial programs will be in San Francisco, New York, and Portland this summer.
Tilenius notes that the first offers will be “offer of the day” but notes that “this is just the tip of the iceberg.” Eventually, there will be check-in offers, offer ads (ads on Google that are really offers that you can easily transfer to Wallet), and others.
Coming this fall, Google notes that the ability to receive digital receipts will be a part of Wallet as well. This means no more paper receipts (awesome). And digital loyalty cards are another thing they’re working on. There were also hints of the gaming dynamics down the road to make mobile payments more engaging and fun.
Some other Googlers took the stage to show off a demo of how the system will work, and it looks good. But again, Google is really pushing the “open” aspect of this. They want and need more partners for this to really take off.
Google says that they don’t plan to charge for access to Wallet. It will be free to partners. They also say they want to make sure Wallet/Offers ensure a level playing field. Everyone from flower shop owners to massive chains should be able to use this in the same way.
There will be APIs eventually. And Google plans to work with partners to promote open standards. They say they’ll keep it “as open as possible” as long as that doesn’t sacrifice on security and user choice.
Yesterday at TechCrunch Disrupt, Tilenius said on stage that Google was making a huge bet on NFC as a company. Indeed.
Posted: 26 May 2011 09:02 AM PDT
Earlier this week we gave you a little sneak peek at the new Livescribe Connect service but we also looked a bit more closely at the T-Mobile G-Slate, Big Fuchsia’s wild 3D tablet. Erick was generally nonplussed with both products but this is the year of the Android tablet and this is one of the most unique devices we’ve seen this year.
To recap, Livescribe Connect lets you send ink to the cloud by capturing and sending drawn and written data to email accounts, Twitter, and even Google Docs. I found it to be quite useful but Erick complained a bit about the need to tether via USB. As for the G-Slate, we were both very confused by the 3D features but generally accepting of the inexorable march of Android Honeycomb hegemony
You can take a closer look at our Livescribe discussion below and then take a direct look at the G-Slate after that. Watch the whole video above.
Posted: 26 May 2011 08:12 AM PDT
Merchant Circle provides a business directory for merchants in smaller towns and currently lists over a million small businesses. MerchantCircle has long targeted merchants in small locales versus catering towards the consumers, as sites like Yelp and CitySearch do. MerchantCircle has local business members in 95% of the 24,600 U.S. cities and towns with populations over 200. The company also acquired Bloglines from IAC late last year.
Reply.com is a cost-per-click ad network which targets ads for local businesses. Its strategy is to gather more information from consumers who click on their ads by inserting a "middle page" between that pops to ask them where they live or what brands they like to improve targeting before showing them an ad. Last year, the company filed for an IPO.
Clearly, MerchantCircle brings Reply an inventory of small businesses. Reply says the combined company projects revenues of over $100 million in 2012.
Merchant circle has raised $14 million in funding from SV Angel, IAC, Rustic Canyon, Steamboat Ventures, Scale Venture Partners and others.
Posted: 26 May 2011 08:07 AM PDT
There are a lot of companies out there trying to leverage the social graph to make discovering new products, services, or tools — whatever the case may be — easier and more personalized. But, when it comes to games, few do it better than Raptr.
For those unfamiliar with the company, Raptr is a social network that revolves around gaming, which allows users to keep tabs on what their friends are doing throughout the gaming world, offering recommendations for games to play, accomplishment updates, and a host of other features. One of Raptr’s coolest features is its multi-protocol chat client that allows gamers to see what games their friends are playing in realtime, whether they’re on PS3, Xbox 360, or PC (including casual Flash games, Steam and Xfire) — even if they don't have Raptr accounts. If one of your friends is online and playing a game, for example, you can send messages to them from the Raptr client regardless of which platform they're on.
What grounds these features and gives them value, according to CEO Dennis Fong, emanates from the fact that Raptr is “all about the data”. Users opt-in to sharing their personal data (and Fong says 99 percent of users have opted-in), allowing Raptr to pull their entire profile from, say, Xbox or PS3, etc., to see how far they’ve progressed, what achievements they’ve unlocked, what games they’re buying, and more. It is this data, along with Raptr’s automated check-in functionality, that makes Raptr a fully-loaded social and recommendation platform.
This data is also being offered (for free) to analysts, journalists, and more, so that they can watch current trends in gaming, like how many people are playing Madden and playing Cityville. And as long as this data never ends up in the hands of advertisers, it can become a goldmine, with a ton of prospective uses — like so many other discovery and recommendation services, the more it learns and the more data collects, the more useful and personalized it becomes.
Riffing off its dataset and recommendation algorithm, today Raptr is launching a cool new feature: a personalized, social news platform that serves you the latest news that’s relevant to the games you’re playing now. The new feature is kind of like Reddit or Digg for gaming, and looks fairly similar to the Facebook news feed. Like Facebook, all the news you’ll see in your feed comes from other users in the platform, with the exception of course being that the news is algorithmically served to be personalized to your gaming tastes. So, it’s discovery mechanism is leveraging both your social graph and your personal usage history.
Another difference with the Facebook news feed is that you can vote a piece of news up or down, you can sort through news taxonomically by category, or you can hide the content if it’s not contextually relevant to you and your tastes. The feed is also partially curated by a content team at Raptr, to ensure that the feed includes that human element, which is intended to ensure total personalization and relevance. Furthermore, unlike Facebook or Digg and Reddit, there’s no front page, each user has a news feed that’s personalized to them, so everyone sees something different.
Raptr has raised $27 million in funding from Accel, Founders Fund, and several other well-known angels and VCs. Founder and CEO Dennis Fong, whose past companies include Xfire, Lithium, and Gamers.com, said that the platform currently has over 8 million users, and is pulling in over 500K users per month.
Considering that Raptr users can now submit and share a mix of content including news, videos, screenshots, status updates, and reviews, chat with friends in-game across platforms, and that its service leverages a mass of data to provide excellent recommendations and game discovery, the startup has built one badass platform. I don’t like using this word, but Raptr’s services are truly “robust”, with recommendations, discovery, and a personalized news feed, it combines Pandora-like discovery qualities with Reddit-like news offerings. For avid gamers, it’s got some bells and whistles worth checking out.
Posted: 26 May 2011 07:57 AM PDT
WePay, a Y Combinator backed startup that aims to take the hassle out of group paying, is unveiling a new ticketing feature that allows users to sell tickets online for events. As we’ve written in our previous coverage of WePay, the service is a dead simple way to collect, manage and spend money for groups.
On WePay, you can create a unique, FDIC insured account for each group. While the account is still associated with your name, but you can keep each group account totally separate from your personal transactions. Group money can essentially be kept separate from any individual accounts you may have. You can also designate specific individuals to have control over accounts.
The company offers two options—WePay Tickets which allows organizers to sell tickets and collect basic information from ticket purchasers and WePay Tickets Pro which allows organizers to create custom forms to gather detailed information about event attendees.
The startup says that its offering was already being used to sell tickets for events and adding a dedicated ticketing option made sense for users. WePay contends that its payments platform is superior to others because there is no merchant or PayPal accounts required; the setup is simple, organizers have instant access to the money they collect and users can create custom registration forms.
WePay also offers organizers a way to track event expenses and users can embed a ticket sales widget on websites. Additionally, WePay Tickets charges a 3.5% fee without any additional monthly or credit card processing fees. WePay Tickets Pro charges a fee of 6% + $.99 per transaction. For basis of comparison, Eventbrite charges 2.5% plus $0.99 per ticket, plus credit card processing fees.
Despite competition from PayPal and now Eventbrite, WePay is currently seeing high engagement rates and tens of thousands of people currently use WePay every month to collect money online. And the company is processing "several million dollars" in payment volume per month.
Posted: 26 May 2011 07:35 AM PDT
Posted: 26 May 2011 06:59 AM PDT
Exclusive - Zozi has landed $7 million in Series B financing from existing investors, TechCrunch has learned. The startup, which offers deals on unique local things to do, raised capital from LaunchCapital, the Pritzker/Vlock Family Office, 500Startups, ZIG Capital, Thomas & Peter Lehrman, David Tisch and others.
The round brings the total of funding raised by the San Francisco startup to $10 million – the $3 million Series A round was secured back in August 2010.
Launched in 2009, zozi says it’s operating in a market worth roughly $60 billion, enabling millions to find and book experiences, hand-picked by the company’s team of travel and adventure experts, right on their website (no mobile apps yet).
Don’t call Zozi a daily deal site, though, asks founder and CEO TJ Sassani, although he acknowledges that they do leverage flash marketing as a core economic driver at present.
Basically, the zozi team works with local merchants and experts to be able to offer its customers experiences like surfing lessons, fly fishing excursions, shark cage diving, Segway tours, poker classes and whatnot at a significant discount.
Of note: the company offers a 100% money back guarantee if customers do not love the experience. Or get devoured by sharks, I presume.
Posted: 26 May 2011 06:03 AM PDT
There has been some interesting speculation regarding the relationship between hot (at least in Europe) music streaming service Spotify and gargantuan social platform Facebook. Now Forbes is reporting that Facebook has partnered with Spotify on a streaming service that “could be launched in as little as two weeks” via a Spotify icon in a user’s newsfeed.
However, our sources are pouring ice cold water on the idea. The reasons are thus: Even through Spotify is doing very well on its home turf of Sweden… and has launched in Finland, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and the UK – it has yet to launch in the US. And a launch in the next two weeks looks highly optimistic.
Our sources say the reason is that Spotify has in fact secured two big unnamed record labels – but needs two more labels to come on board before it can launch in the US.
Posted: 26 May 2011 06:00 AM PDT
Radio Spotter matches the songs you're playing from your personal online music collections to music playing on hundreds of radio stations across the web. You can also select Internet radio stations you'll like, based on music genres or your own artist searches. Radio Spotter puts the metadata in your music collection to work by matching whatever you're listening to, and offers new recommendations based on your changing preferences.
As you listen to your music on mSpot Music, the service will match the songs and artists you're playing with similar music on Internet radio stations. These stations will be available in the "Stations Suggestions" tab in the applications. You can save your favorite stations can be saved for easy reference on the app homepage and new songs can be flagged for future reference and synced to your mSpot account for future purchase (via Amazon).
Unlike Pandora’s internet radio station, mSpot matches your preferences with the music collection you have stored in the cloud. It sort of gives you the best of both worlds. And it’s free.
As we’ve written in the past, mSpot is playing in a competitive space both in terms of its movie (iTunes and Netflix) and music streaming services. With the launch of Amazon's digital music locker, mSpot has been left with another competitor. But adding new features and lowering the price of its own storage offerings should hemp the company compete against giants like Pandora, iTunes and others.
Posted: 26 May 2011 05:45 AM PDT
Stealthy startup ProjectSlice is launching to the public today and announcing a $9.4 million Series A funding round led by DCM and Lightspeed Venture Partners with Michael Birch, FLOODGATE, Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors and Rick Thompson participating.
ProjectSlice aims to help you organize your online shopping by analyzing your inbox. It’s sort of like what TripIt does for your itineraries, except ProjectSlice tracks receipts, notices and purchases. The startup is launching a free app called "All My Purchases" for Yahoo Mail that will help keep your shopping information organized and accessible.
Once you sign up, the app automatically pulls information from the electronic receipts in your email and organizes it in one place. The startup says that receipts and purchases often gets lost in your inbox and the app consolidates your shopping history in one place so you don't have to log into multiple websites, dig through receipts or manually file emails
And ProjectSlice offers a whole slew of services that make tracking your purchases easy. The app will automatically track in-progress shipments and chart shipping from multiple retailers on a single map. ProjectSlice will also provide quick access to return and customer service information that isn't always so easy to find. And the app will show you exactly what you bought down to the individual item from the most popular merchants, not just where you bought it.
As someone who shops a lot online, Project Slice solves a major pain point of keeping track of all purchases, from Amazon to PeaPod, even for daily deal sites. I would definitely use this app; and it could bring the sort of disruption to online shopping that TripIt brought to travel planning. Now all Project Slice has to do is launch a service for Gmail.
Posted: 26 May 2011 12:26 AM PDT
Customers can once again get the album for 99 cents, and get 20 GB of free Amazon Cloud Drive storage to boot.
Says Craig Pape, director of Music for Amazon:
Let’s hope so for anyone who missed out the first time around.
Amazon typically offers a daily album deal for $3 to $5, but it seems the $0.99 deal appealed to many more customers than they had anticipated.
‘Born This Way’ immediately shot to the top spot on Amazon's bestselling MP3 albums list after the deal was introduced to the masses, and has remained numero uno since.
For the record, Apple still sells ‘Born This Way’ on iTunes for $11.99 (or $15.99 with extras).
(Photo via Flickr user Naomi Lir, used with permission)
Posted: 25 May 2011 04:27 PM PDT
Watch Getaround win the cup at the award presentation:
Here’s what Getaround told us backstage after they won the cup.
Getaround is a car rental market place where you can rent a car by the day, hour or week through a smartphone app. Getaround's all inclusive package, which includes insurance, 24 hour roadside assistance, a Getaround car-kit, iPhone app and a web app makes it easy for people to conveniently car share anywhere. The company's founder said today that currently the startup has signed up 1,600 cars for sharing since its launch yesterday, which is 20 percent of car-sharing giant Zipcar's fleet of 8,000 cars.
Getaround was a hit with the judges when the startup pitched the idea on Tuesday; with most of the judges wishing they could have invested in the company. Getaround has received seed funding from General Catalyst Partners, Barney Pell and others.
You can check out the coverage of Getaround, Sonar and Billguard below:
In addition to the Disrupt Cup, some special awards were also given:
Audience Choice Winner: Getaround.
The Microsoft Bing Decision Award: do@. This award goes to the Startup Battlefield contestant who is helping users make good decisions on the fly. Do@ will win a lunch meeting with Qi Lu, President of Online Services and SEO consultation with the Bing Webmaster Team; and Microsoft will help plan do@’s launch party.
A special thanks to our sponsor partners for the conference: Sprint, Google, Drund, Qualcomm, Palantir, TokBox, iContact BrightIdea, Mashery, Twilio, Bing, GE, Media Temple, MailChimp, Zecco, SecondMarket, and Red Bull. You can find a complete list of our sponsors here.
Posted: 25 May 2011 03:43 PM PDT
Looking for a startup with a healthy dollop of hubris, a sense of humor, and a shroud of secrecy? Meet Amen, a company that claims to be offering “the best job in the world”.
At this point we don’t know much about the startup aside from a few things: it has a very solid founding team, and it has something to do with strongly voicing opinions.
The company’s founders include Florian Weber, a very early Twitter employee who played a major role in that company’s creation (to the point that he has been called a forgotten cofounder). Amen also includes Felix Petersen, who formerly founded Plazes, which was acquired by Nokia in 2008. Rounding out the roster are Caitlin Winner (MIT, Nokia) and Ricki Vester Gregersen (Input Squared).
Amen is based in Berlin, Germany. Here’s the vague (and hubristic) description on the jobs page:
There are a few other tidbits of information on the jobs page, like the fact that the company really likes Android (they want someone who “Belives in the Platform”).
Posted: 25 May 2011 03:03 PM PDT
Google is holding an event tomorrow in New York City. While everyone seems to be aware that it’s a partner event to announce the NFC strategy for their Android phones, Google has refused to confirm it. Well, they don’t have to. One of their partners just did.
We just got an email from the PR firm representing ViVOtech, wondering if we were going to the Google event tomorrow. They try to talk vaguely about ”Google's latest innovations", but that doesn’t matter. Just look at what ViVOtech does. They make NFC software.
From their own site:
ViVOtech’s PR people go on to note that they “worked closely” with Google and “has provided ViVOtech technologies to enrich Google upcoming ‘latest innovations’”
Okay then. There’s one partner. An NFC one. The others? Apparently Sprint (which carries the Nexus S) and we’re hearing perhaps Citibank for the money side of things (Erick asked Google about it on stage today — no comment). Tune in for more tomorrow.
Posted: 25 May 2011 02:54 PM PDT
Today, the company’s founder said that currently the startup has signed up 1,600 cars for sharing since its launch yesterday. That’s 20 percent of car-sharing giant Zipcar’s fleet of 8,000 cars. Impressive for a bootstrapped startup that has only been open to the public for a matter of hours.
Here’s Getaround’s Finalist Presentation:
Posted: 25 May 2011 02:40 PM PDT
When Martin replied that Sonar took around $250K to date to build, Arrington commented, “This is better now than Color could ever hope to be,” looking at Sequoia investor Roelof Botha for comment or reaction. ”When you see something like this do you get bummed out that you put 20 [or so] million into color?”
Botha was non-plussed. Sequoia invested about $25 million in photo-sharing app Color’s $41 million Series A round.
“I’m comfortable with silence,” Botha, responded. To Botha’s credit Google’s Marissa Mayer was less effusive, likening the Sonar to a feature rather than the service.
Sonar monetizes by a “Promoted People” feature, which means that users who want to have prime real estate on the app will pay more, and is as of yesterday revenue positive. “That’s so brilliant and so awful,” Arrington said.
Here’s the video of Sonar’s finalist presentation:
Posted: 25 May 2011 02:07 PM PDT
As some of you may have read, I was all set to step on a plane on Sunday to head to New York City for TechCrunch Disrupt. Then a giant volcano exploded.
But being stranded in Iceland wasn’t all bad. First of all, it’s a beautiful country. Second, when some local entrepreneurs read about our misfortune, they got together and organized an event: TechCrunch Erupt. My friends and I headed over to the event on Monday for conversation, beer, and livestreaming of TechCrunch Disrupt from the U.S.
They put this event together at the last minute, and dozens of local entrepreneurs still showed up — on a Monday afternoon. Below, find some images of the event (some of you may recognize a few folks from the U.S. tech community in them — and you may remember the two women in the top picture from this story).
Posted: 25 May 2011 01:30 PM PDT
We’re live at the very final Battlefield of TechCrunch Disrupt New York, where six finalists are duking it out for $50,000 and the coveted Disrupt Cup.
We’ll be maintaining our live notes below — tune in to be the first to know who walks away victorious.
We’re joined by judges Roelof Botha of Sequoia Capital, Ron Conway of SV Angel, Marissa Mayer of Google, Josh Kopelman of First Round Capital, Fred Wilson of USV, and our own Michael Arrington.
The companies going into the finals: Do@, Billguard, InvoiceASAP, Sonar, Getaround, and CCLoop.
Do@ is an app search aggregator. Searching for “sushi”, for example, will show screens from the Yelp, Yellow Pages, Foodspotting, and Foursquare apps. Developers can submit their own applications to be aggregated into results.
Marissa Mayer: What’s your revenue model?
It’s a sponsored app, though we haven’t turned that feature on yet. There are also ads (admob).
Who picks the apps?
It’s a completely open platform. Anyone can submit their URL, while devs can submit through our API. It’s sorted by a crowdsourced social result system.
Why are you not doing a search box on Do@.com?
The browsers on these mobiles are not powerful enough yet.
Do you have a strategy for getting to the leaderboards on the App Store?
We were on the leaderboard on the first day. We actually don’t want to go too fast.
Billguard has taken the stage. Billguard dubs themselves as “the world’s first anti-virus for bills”. It constantly monitors your credit card statements for reoccuring fees that you may not know are there, or that may be scams. Billguard will also dispute charges for you. The first card that a user monitors is free; if a user wishes to monitor two or more cards, there is a flat fee.
When you look at anti-spam products, a lot of people mark things as spam when they’re not necessarily spam, but things that irritate them. I imagine this will be a problem here; won’t companies be very mad about false positives and requests for refunds that aren’t legitimate?
We’ve solved this by implementing a reliability system. We give users a reputation score — we’ll know who is flagging correctly, and who is simply crying wolf.
The judges ask for a recap of the business model
The first (primary) card for each user is free. Additional cards can be added for a flat membership fee of $4 per month.
Why $4 per month? Why not take a cut of the money that you save users?
We don’t want to be a part of the process of ripping people off — we want to end it. Additionally, something I didn’t get to mention in my presentation: we are in talks with 3 (soon to be 4) of the top US banks toi have them deliver the Billguard system directly to consumers.
You said 90% of AOL customers don’t realize they’re paying for their accounts (Mike interjects: Why do you have to bring AOL into this? AOL provides a valuable service. Audience laughs)… how would that be flagged/classified?
If enough people flagged that they didn’t know they were paying for this, it would show an alert. We don’t indicate that it is fraudulent, but users should know that this is a charge that many people don’t realize they’re paying.
Also, another thing I didn’t get a chance to mention: in addition to banks, we’ll be partnering with the top antivirus companies later this year.
If you pay the $4 a month.. at the end of the year, if you haven’t saved the customer that much money, do they get a refund?
We subscribe to the school of delivering happiness. We weren’t going to announce this yet, but: if someone signs up, and it doesn’t catch anything (and that’s a good thing! If it doesn’t catch anything, its because your cards are clean.).. we’ll give you your money back.
Fred Wilson: Here’s the thing. People are cheap. This feels like Mint. I don’t pay for Mint, why would I pay for this?
There are millions of people each month who pay for social security protection —
Fred Wilson: Those things are scams. The fact that you’re associating yourself with those is no good.
InvoiceASAP is a cloud-based invoice app that allows you to easily create and send professional invoices, estimates, sales orders and receipts. The app provides easy-to-use menus on your mobile phone, and swiftly guides the user through the setup and invoicing process, making your device a powerful tool for business management.
How do you get distribution?
Existing deals. Have an affiliate strategy. In touch with QuickBooks Pro advisors. Will build out quickly for enterprise sales for those QuickBooks Pro advisors.
Can you talk about the market size?
Anyone who is an Angie’s List contractor. That’s the SMB market. From enterprise standpoint, anyone with a mobile presence. App is free itself. Unlimited sending of invoices and estimates. To activate media attachments, payments, archiving, is $7 per month per user. To connect to accounting B2B. Could do volume discounts.
What could sales be in two years?
We’re shooting for, we’d be happy with 100,000 paid users. In 2 years 3-400,000 possible with right marketing.
Are you integrated into QuickBooks?
When you added the cement.. who inputs that into the system?
With InvoiceASAP, add in mobile device, or key it into backend. If connected to Quickbooks etc, can get data from there.
We’re actively looking at POS. To be able to swipe. Key thing, Intuit has GoPay, have all these online accounting platforms. No way to go to POS and look at invoice. We’re hot on this.
Josh: Before investing I’d want to know more about the distribution. You have to think FreshBooks etc moving to HTML5. Worry about what happens when competition realizes.
We’ve had this discussion. Companies we’re partnering with that could build their own thing. We want to be lowest common denominator.
Marissa: Hot space. I think integration points are going to be incredibly important. I also don’t think you’re thinking big enough. I’ve been looking at SMBs lately. Madison WI has 31,000 businesses.
Sonar is a mobile app that helps you connect with people around you. Open the app, and it will show you people in the same venue who have mutual friends with you (using data from Facebook, Twitter, etc.). Once you see someone you know, it lets you send them a message in one click.
Ron Conway: If I were in due diligence, we’d have to look into FB, Foursquare, Twitter to make sure they aren’t going to do this. Foursquare has already done it.
Fred Wilson: I think you’re striking a chord
Marissa: There’s some interesting aspects to it. I’m personally shy so I like new conversation starters. At the same time it feels like a feature. What problem is it trying to solve. For a lot of people, they don’t need to meet more people.
We’re revenue positive.. if I walk into a room I want to meet ruby devs. We’re launching promoted people. In this room, certain people want more visibility.
Do you plan to offer communications inside the service? Over time as more people use Sonar, you’d be more valuable if you have your own communication network..
Yes absolutely. Perhaps if you wanted to send a blast to everyone that’s a journalist, maybe that’s a premium features. Will build profiles for users as well.
Koppelman: To some degree you’re disintermediating Foursquare FB, etc. I can see scenarios where you’re a threat to them
Foursquare down the line will try to own the client. But we do great even if we don’t own the client.
Fred Wilson: think about your brand. There are lots of apps named Sonar.
Google owns Sonar.com. There are other apps called Sonar, but we just started in App Store, we’re now top app named Sonar.
Getaround can be thought of as the “AirBNB for Cars”. Much as AirBNB allows home owners to list their homes for daily rentals, Getaround allows car owner to rent their cars out by the hour. They’ve built a small device which connects to your car, providing keyless entry to the renter through a smartphone app. Renters can also browse for cars, view photos of the available rides, and read reviews through the application. Driver’s insurance is included in the hourly rental rates.
What about regulatory framework? What are the regulations regarding car rental?
Good question. They’re actually quite favorable. It’s legal everywhere (all 50 states).
Who is invested?
We haven’t announced our funding yet — we’re going to soon. There are a few very high profile angels involved.
How does the device work? How is it paired?
It’s running embedded Linux, and a combination of wireless technologies to communicate. Pairing the hardware with the keyless remote app takes about 5 minutes, and is the same process as pairing a new, physical keyless remote that you might buy for your car.
What about ignition?
It works the same way Zipcar does. The App does not handle ignition; keys are left out-of-sight in the car.
What if you trash my car? I don’t mean crash my car — what if you bring it back a mess?
We deal with that by allowing the car owner to limit who they rent to.
Marissa Mayer: I’m super impressed. It’s a regular problem, and an every day problem. I’m also impressed that you’re making hardware so early. Even Google, we were hardware shy for so long. My only question: You said you have 1,600 cars, but that you haven’t “validated them yet”. What is this validation? How does it scale?
Right now we’ve signed it up so that anyone can sign up. There’s no manual validation — we just haven’t activated them yet in the backend.
Then who would own the liability? If you rent a car with no brakes and someone crashes, who takes the blame?
We would — that’s why we have insurance.
ccLoop aims to eliminate messy Reply-Alls and e-mail threads with their vision of ‘Smart Mailing Lists’. ccLoop wants to make it easier for users to create, manage, share, discover, join, and follow lists. Dubbed “Loops”, users can decide for themselves which emails they want to receive in what way, using a cloud-based service. Lists are easy to create (it essentially entails adding an @ccLoop.com address to the CC field of the first email to the group), with no downloads or plugins involved.
So it’s a mailing list?
It’s a mailing list with a bunch of power added to it. If you take this simple idea — I’m working with people, I need to talk to all these people —and make it a Software As A Service, it becomes all the more powerful.
I think this is really smart. It’s almost like Yahoo Groups, done right, 10 years. Will this result in me getting more e-mail, or less e-mail?
This feature, the digests, where you only get daily digests (or weekly digests), reduces how much e-mail you get. If you join these loops, you’ve got control of what you get. If you don’t want it, or don’t want it right now, you can still go get it later.
I think it’s a mistake to pitch this as an enterprise service. I can see this as something that a couple employees within a couple begin to use [personally], and then having it grow into an enterprise use.
How many companies have you sold?
2, and then one IPO.
Posted: 25 May 2011 12:51 PM PDT
4Chan and Canvas founder Christopher Poole (Moot) took the stage to talk to Erick Schoenfeld about creating vibrant online communities. Poole revealed that that the eight-year-old 4Chan is averaging 8 million users according to Quantcast and 18 million monthly users according to Google.
Note: Poole says that the Google numbers used to be 14 million and shot up to 18 because of a recent Google Analytics tag change. Still impressive.
Poole also explained why he built Canvas into a separate venture-backed company as opposed to porting over the existing 4Chan users onto the new platform and just having them deal with it. “We want to re-imagine what the modern message board would look like … It’s less about the product and more about the community.”
Poole does however think that the communities will eventually overlap, “I’m sure that millions of the 4channers will want to use Canvas once we open it to the public. But we don’t want to force them to do so.”
Canvas should be out of private beta in the next couple of months, Poole says.
Posted: 25 May 2011 12:45 PM PDT
Today at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York City, Google’s Marissa Mayer sat down with our own Michael Arrington. She’s an old pro dealing with Mike — she’s actually been to every event we’ve ever put on. And she knows that as long as she has some new data to give him, he won’t push on the other, more uncomfortable things he likes to push on. Or at least, he won’t push as hard.
As such, Mayer noted that Google Maps for mobile has now surpassed 200 million installs. And those are active users of the product. Perhaps even more amazing is that mobile constitutes over 40 percent of all Maps usage. And in June, Mayer says that she expects mobile will surpass the desktop version of Maps for good.
She also noted that some 20 percent of the searches now seen on Google are for local information. And on mobile, that number is more like 40 percent. As Google’s head of Geo (which includes both Maps and Local), Mayer is clearly proud of these stats.
She noted that one of her challenges has been to make the wide range of products in her department more streamlined. She said that one such maneuver to help with that was the folding of Hotpot into Places. And eventually, Mayer sees Latitude simply as a part of Maps (it already is on Android devices).
Since Mayer was one of Google’s early employees, Mike asked her what the atmosphere was like now with Larry Page in as CEO and Eric Schmidt out. She noted that it was “really optimistic” and said that there’s “a lot of energy.” She said that since Google has always been focused on the product, Larry was the perfect person to come in and lead.
Posted: 25 May 2011 12:35 PM PDT
Six companies were chosen at random from the TechCrunch Disrupt Startup Battlefield. Then, for six sessions of less than ten minutes each, Graham spoke with each startup founder to flesh out their idea, asking probing questions as he tried to figure out what they were setting out to do, and what they might need to change.
Graham has a knack for being insightful and critical on his feet, and he doesn’t require much background information to hone in on some of the pain points and weaknesses in a startup’s idea (it’s a skill that likely comes from practice, as he’s held office hours with hundreds of YC companies). At the same time, he comes across as being curious and empathetic rather than overly negative — even when he’s telling a founder that their company is dead in the water.
If I were to recommend one video from TechCrunch Disrupt (and we’ve had many), I’d choose this one. Founders should consider watching the video above and asking themselves how they would answer each of Graham’s questions. It’s really fantastic.
Below are my notes from each startup, but it’s really best to watch the video, as it’s hard to convey the train of thought that Graham exhibited on stage.
The company is offering a graph database as a service.
PG: “Who needs this”
Last words: “Find out the users who use you first are, figure out the kinds of problem they are solving. Then when you’re talking to investors tell them the problem you’re helping solve.”
Apply for jobs by video. Job search is about asking rich questions, not work history: “What’s a good reason to be late today?”, “Tell me about yourself.” “Is it ever appropriate to lie to a friend?” Character-related questions.
PG: “What’s hard about what you’re doing is that you’re trying to create a marketplace. Once you’re established then you’re set.”
PG: “Which is harder to get on your site: People applying or hiring?”
“When do I launch?”
Data visualization startup
A trading site for individual investors that generates queries on the fly for a company, sort of like a Google finance but with other data instead of stock tickers.
PG: I worry that this won’t have enough gravity to stay on top of people’s heads. Something people would do occasionally and then never come back.
Setting out to make every television interactive. Sitting on couch, point at TV with iPhone, one second recognize what you’re watching.
PG: Where is that going to be most used? FIll in the blank. The biggest single case of people use this is for ___?
PG: If you get a show to run a contest, and people have to install your app to participate, that could get you millions of installs, and then you have a user base. Somehow you have to encourage people to keep using it. But if it did actually work to cause people to check into shows, a lot of shows would use it.
Introduce people at airports. You’re traveling at an airport tell people they’re in the same airport.
PG: You need a small subset of users much more driven than average user. Frequent fliers can’t be that subset because they’re essentially random groups of people. Could be a sales dude, could be an engineer.
PG:You don’t know where people are going unless you expect them to tell you all the time. You have to find a subset of people who super-want to talk to one another. Enough to seek out and sign up for something they aren’t using. If I were you i’d stat over. You’ve spent 60 days on this. Plenty of companies start over after 60 days. The very best startups solve problems that founders themselves have. What is the worst problem in my life.
A social shopping network for women.
100,000 registered users. Build games.
Posted: 25 May 2011 11:44 AM PDT
The company will soon allow you to “Qwiki yourself,” meaning you can create a personal Qwiki of the social data about yourself available on the web. The feature will combine photos and information from Facebook and other social media sites.
Qwiki has also added a number of new employees, including Navin Thukkaram, Chief Operating Officer; Brad Whitaker, VP of Engineering; and Matthew Liu, VP of Product. The startup’s cofounder Louis Monier just left the company to join Proximic as Chief Scientist.
Posted: 25 May 2011 11:11 AM PDT
Calling Bramscher up on stage, along with Paul Graham (Y Combinator), Keith Rabois (Square), Roelof Botha (Sequoia Capital), it was announced that the audience would submit 10-second pitches at the Q&A microphones. There was a wild tumult as audience members lined up to take their shot.
The pitches, of which there were probably two dozen, ranged from brief but traditional descriptions of services and funding to a simple “I’m 19 and it’s my birthday.” After an on-stage huddle, the judges arrived at a conclusion: a lady whose son was shortly to ship off to join the marines. She did not actually drive it off stage (the bike was in fact somebody’s), but provided details to have an identical Enertia shipped to her home.
The on-stage bike was, however, conspicuously absent a few minutes later. Arrington was gleefully tooling around in an empty area behind the stage and menacing the TCTV crew and stage grips, until security disrupted his fun. We’ll probably be seeing one of these at the offices soon. Thanks to Brammo for agreeing to give away a bike, and congratulations to our winner.
Posted: 25 May 2011 10:29 AM PDT
With today’s announcement by Twitter CEO Dick Costolo of the Tweetdeck acquisition, the shape of the next layer of micro messaging begins to come into focus. What BetaWorks CEO and co-founder John Borthwick was calling hypothetical yesterday when we talked backstage at TechCrunch Disrupt is now a fait accompli, if it wasn’t already so then. He described how Betaworks was at work modeling a desktop multi-column Twitter UI when Tweetdeck founder Ian Dodsworth popped up with a working app to invest in. But when I tapped on my iPad, Borthwick called it the device that changed everything.
Borthwick seems to speak simultaneously in code and at a broad scope historically and sometimes metaphorically, calling the gestural-based interface of the tablet the instantiation of our earliest natural instinct to point and define where we pay attention. As Borthwick pivoted the conversation away from the deal he couldn’t talk about to what Marc Benioff and salesforce.com are doing with Chatter and our strategic Radian6 acquisition, I couldn’t help but notice how Benioff had correctly called the intersection he now calls the social enterprise. Of course, Borthwick knew I couldn’t talk much about this either, and the TCTV guys shut us down just as things were getting interesting. You however are free to read between the lines for yourself.
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