Archive for the ‘mountain view california’ tag
It’s starting to seem like everyone who got their start in Silicon Valley is putting down an anchor in New York City. Earlier this year Facebook set up an engineering office in Manhattan, then this week Alexia Tsotsis made her move to the Big Apple (miss you!) Doesn’t anybody stay in one place anymore?
The latest techie to head east is Polyvore, the website that lets people create collages of apparel and accessories using images from any online store. Polyvore today is announcing the opening of its first-ever New York office, in SoHo. The NYC office has a staff of eight to start, while Polyvore’s 40 other employees and its executive team headed up by CEO Jess Lee will remain headquartered in Mountain View, California.
NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg issued a personal welcome to Polvyore, which is pretty cool:
“By opening an office here, Polyvore is joining the growing group of tech companies who recognize that the benefits of being in New York City are irresistible, regardless of where a startup began.”
Polyvore’s setting up an office in Manhattan makes a ton of sense, since as hard as the San Francisco Bay Area may try, NYC is still the fashion headquarters of the United States (and arguably the world.) I know that Lee and one of her co-founders Pasha Sadri have found themselves spending more and more time in New York as Polyvore has grown, so now they will have somewhere to hang their hats when in town. In a statement, Sadri said: “We’ve come a long way since Polyvore was five people in my living room. Polyvore has always been at the intersection of technology and style, so being in close proximity to the fashion powerhouses of New York was a natural next step.”
And speaking of Polyvore’s growth, the company is also announcing today that it has hit 17 million unique visitors per month. That’s a nice bump up from the last time we checked in with the company in May, when it had 15 million uniques. Here is a video interview from then, in which Lee and Sadri discuss how embracing “the Pinterest effect” has helped them grow the business:
Photo credit of Polyvore NYC office: Patrick Butler
Referly launched its public beta today, which helps online businesses create referral programs to expand their markets.
With Referly, companies can create incentives for customers to do things like like recruiting new customers, opting for upgrades, and offering recommendations. Businesses can dole out rewards to promote user acquisition and loyalty, and individuals can receive rewards for helping to drive sales. Both sides benefit from this equation.
Through this platform, brands can define their own reward structure and dictate how much they are willing to reward their champions. The Referly system is based on pre-paid deposits, meaning a company decides in advance how much it wants to pay for each action and Referly debits that amount from the account on a pay-per-action basis. Rewards can be anything from cash to gift cards to discount codes. Companies can also track how these tactics affect their sales. The API is easy to use and can be implemented in minutes. It is free while in beta.
On the referrer end, individuals share links to their favorite products and services. When people make purchases through those links, the referrer earns rewards. Referly already has a massive list of brands and stores on board spanning the entire range of the consumer spectrum. Merchants include luxury designers, auto parts retailers, bookstores, sporting good outlets, candy shops, airlines, pet supply chains, and more. The network also extends beyond e-commerce to software-as-a-service providers, which can also gain from rewarding users.
Referly is the project of Danielle Morrill, the former Head of Marketing for cloud communication company Twilio, and is backed by both YCombinator and 500 Startups. Morrill founded the company with her chief technical officer and husband Kevin, along with “Chief Design Officer” Al Abut in April of 2012. The company currently employes six people in Mountain View, California.
Mountain View is a quietly intense suburb at the nexus of the San Francisco peninsula and Silicon Valley proper, filled with trees, flowers, and the hum of the highways and office parks off in the distance. It’s like Palo Alto without the ego, and about as different from San Francisco as Silicon Valley gets.
Quora, the quietly ambitious startup that’s creating a smarter, Q&A-style Wikipedia, is going to fit right in.
It’ll be occupying floors four and five of Mozilla’s building in the town’s sleepy center, at 650 Castro Street. There’ll be room to grow from the company’s 40 or so current employees to more than 150 “over the next few years,” cofounder Adam D’Angelo told me by phone yesterday.
There was no such space in the company’s Palo Alto location. D’Angelo took to his product today to share more details on the decision:
We’re running out of space in our current office, so we’ve been looking for more space for a while now. Because the downtown Palo Alto market is so hot, there is no available office space big enough for us nearby. We can also afford a longer-term lease now that we’ve raised our series B.
Those factors prompted us to look at other downtown areas around Silicon Valley. Ideally, we were looking for a space that was walking distance from a Caltrain stop, in an area with restaurants and other downtown amenities. We were lucky to find a space that meets our needs on Castro Street in downtown Mountain View. It’s not too far from our current location and it will give us space to grow to four times our current size of 40 employees.
He also told me that the other option was, in fact, San Francisco, where other hot consumery valley startups like Pinterest are moving. But most employees live further south, and there was some concern that such a long move to a culturally distinct place could be disruptive for productivity.
Quora is high-profile, in some sense. Like other question-and-answer sites, users create accounts, then follow, vote on and sometimes answer questions. But the way it combines these features, and the way it’s trying to grow, has already resulted in big quality gains over older rivals like Yahoo Answers or startups like Formspring.
Their personal reputations have most certainly helped attract a strong early user base — other engineers and tech leaders, to begin with. An increasing number of thought leaders in other industries have also been joining over the last year or two. And you’ll occasionally see expert answers make big news, like this medical researcher’s insightful explanation of Steve Jobs’ cancer issues last year: ”Why did Steve Jobs choose not to effectively treat his cancer?”
Answer by answer, user by user, the company aims to fill search results and social networks with better information. The fine-tuning of the product, the slow accumulation of smart users, and the gradual proliferation of great answers across the internet will require years of concentration. As a former Mountain View resident, I can say the company has found the right place.
We’re here at Microsoft’s Mountain View, California offices waiting for the kickoff of 500 Startups’ Summer 2012 Demo Day. Today, the fourth batch of startups to pass through the famed Silicon Valley startup accelerator program will show off their stuff to a room full of investors and media.
As a refresher: 500 Startups is an early-stage seed fund and incubator program for startups with an edge when it comes to the “three D’s” — Design, data, and distribution. The program, which was founded by Dave McClure in 2010, invests between $25,000 to $250,000 in each of its startups. 500 Startups has grown over the years from essentially being a one-man-band to a full-on venture capital firm that is in the process of raising $50 million for its second investment fund, which is twice the size of its first.
This latest batch is comprised of 27 startups who have been immersed in the 500 Startups program since the session began April 2nd. If we know Dave McClure, there is sure to be lots of fun (and a healthy dose of foul language) ahead. We’ve embedded the live stream in this post so you can catch the action as it happens:
Ryan Lawler and I are on the scene along with TechCrunch TV camera guy/producer/editor extraordinaire John Murillo, so more in-depth coverage is on the way. But for now, here are the facts and figures about this Demo Day:
- Ladies are representing: Seven of the 27 startups have at least one female founder
- It’s geographically diverse, too: More than half of the startups are from outside Silicon Valley, and 12 of them are international — countries represented include Slovenia, Japan, Brazil, and beyond
- Today is just the start: Demo Days will occur today and tomorrow in Silicon Valley, and the group will head to New York City for a July 23rd session
And here in alphabetical order is the full lineup of the latest 500 Startups class, along with their self-descriptions:
ActivityHero: We take the project management out of parenting by making it easier for parents to find, schedule and coordinate kids after-school activities and summer camps.
Bluefields: Intelligently organising recreational sports, in order to engage the 2.3B strong amateur sports audience.
Bombfell: Bombfell makes dressing well easy for guys. We send monthly shipments of designer clothes that are picked for you by a stylist.
Chalkable: Chalkable is an app store for school and a platform to make those apps work.
Fontacto: Cloud based phone system for SMBs in Mexico & Latam. It’s the Google Voice (for Business) / RingCentral / Grasshopper for Latin America
Glyder: SMB Marketing Done Right. Simple, Beautiful & Mobile.
Groupiter: We make your Dropbox… social! Groupiter adds group conversations to the files you share on Dropbox.
Happy Inspector: Fixing the way we inspect rental housing
Ingresse: Ingresse is Brazil’s first social ticketing company. We allow people to find events they love and event organizers to reach their audience. Anyone can post an event for free and sell out like a pro.
Monogram: Monogram is your personal shopper on the iPad. We help you curate the best fashion products and sales based on your style.
Network (formerly known as CardFlick): The Smarter Way for Professionals to Connect (and Stay in Contact)
PublikDemand: PublikDemand helps consumers launch viral complaints against big companies and use the power of the collective voice to get their problem solved.
Reclip.It: A Personalized Dashboard for Frugal Shoppers
Sqoot: Klout for SMB.
Storypanda: Making reading more collaborative for kids.
Teamly: Teamly helps companies get rid of pointless performance reviews and instead replace them with a real-time alternative to help them manage their employees all year round.
TeliportMe: TeliportMe is the social network for immersive experiences.
TenderTree: TenderTree helps families find a caregiver for the elderly or disabled.
Tie Society: Netflix for ties and more, a try-before-you-buy subscription service for men’s neckwear. When you have to look good, we help you look your best.
Timbuktu Labs: The iPad magazine for you and your children.
TokyoOtakuMode: TokyoOtakuMode builds the world’s largest online Anime & Cosplay community, curates the best Anime content!
Toshl: Super easy personal finance assistant, making finance fun. Importing data from banks worldwide.
Tuckernuck (formerly Uscoop): Tuckernuck is e-commerce for the all-American lifestyle.
TwitMusic: Twitmusic.com lets music artists post their tracks to Twitter & Facebook and access tools to increase their fan base and reach new audiences.
UmbaBox: A curated discovery service for handmade goods.
Wanderable: Honeymoon registries for couples who want experiences, not stuff.
Yogome: Mobile Learning Games Platform for Kids ages 4 – 10
Citrus Lane, the Mountain View, California-based e-commerce startup that provides a subscription delivery service of products specifically for families with infants and toddlers, has raised $5.1 million in a new round of venture capital funding from GGV Capital and previous investor Greylock Partners.
The round serves as Citrus Lane’s Series A, and brings its total outside investment to $6.5 million (Greylock led a $1.5 million seed round for the company back in March 2011.) The new money will be used mainly for hiring to expand Citrus Lane’s full-time staff of 14 employees and building out its technology, co-founder and CEO Mauria Finley said in an interview this week.
As TechCrunch reported earlier this month, for a $25 monthly subscription fee Citrus Lane sends a box filled with four to five hand-selected baby and kids’ products based on the gender and age of the subscriber’s child. Typically, Citrus Lane’s selections have a green, eco-friendly, and/or organic slant.
The company does not accept money from companies in exchange for featuring their products. Citrus Lane’s selection process is much like how magazines are sent hundreds of free products for review, but ultimately it’s up to the editorial staff to curate what is featured in the magazine each month, Finley explained. Companies often provide their goods to Citrus Lane for free or at a discount, since subscribers often become paying customers to brands they first discover through the service.
Citrus Lane has been shipping boxes since July 2011, and while Finley would not provide any specific usage numbers, she did say that the company currently has subscribers in every state as well as Puerto Rico. “Revenue has doubled since January, and will double again in June,” Finley said.
Talking to Finley, what was especially compelling to me (and something that I imagine attracted investors as well) is that Citrus Lane’s founders seem to be the full package: They have real technical and business chops, but are also women themselves who understand the needs of their customer base. Finley is a mother of two who graduated with a CS degree from Stanford before going on to work years in high-level positions at Netscape, AOL and eBay; her co-founder and CTO Claire Hough previously was in charge of hundreds of engineers in various roles as a senior technical executive at NexTag.
“We have a really great technology and quant marketing teams, and we are building all sorts of algorithmic understanding that we’re confident will run circles around other companies in the space,” Finley said. “But the secret and the heart of this is that we really believe in the customer, and we believe in the mission of helping moms find the right products for their kids.”
That combination is what Finley says will help Citrus Lane keep an edge in the increasingly hot and competitive market for parent- and family-focused startups. And of course, it’s a pretty crazy world out there for startups in general, so having some real heart in the game certainly always helps.
After a marathon day of really solid startup pitches, it’s officially a wrap for Y Combinator’s Winter 2012 demo day held at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. We’ve been here since the beginning, with coverage of all the startup pitches across the five demo sessions that were marked as “on the record” and ready for publicity.
The fifth round of YC companies today had a wide-range of specialties — from bringing families closer together, to tools for mobile app developers, to letting women swap dresses online, and beyond. In case you missed our earlier dispatches, here is where you can find our previous coverage of session one, session two, session three, and session four.
The following are the startups that presented on the record in the fifth and final session of YC winter 2012 demo day:
Hackpad: Collaboration online is a space that many companies big and small have tried to tackle, but no one has quite conquered yet. Hackpad is throwing its hat in this ring with realtime Wiki software that is purportedly easy to edit, simple to share, and works in real time. And the app seems to be getting some real traction: Last week over 1000 documents were created by users, it took off especially well during South By Southwest, and over 400 companies have entered into Hackpad’s beta program and are importing their existing wikis onto the service.
FamilyLeaf: This website allows families to create private social networks where they can share photos, information such as birthdays and addresses, and simple daily updates amongst themselves online. According to FamilyLeaf, Facebook and LinkedIn have conquered social networking for friends and professionals respectively, but the family market is still underserved. So far, FamilyLeaf is proving to be quite sticky: 70 percent of FamilyLeaf’s alpha users are coming back to the site, according to the company. You can check out a more in-depth profile on FamilyLeaf here.
Ark: What kind of search app would Google and Facebook build if they weren’t at each others’ throats? The folks at a startup called Ark thinks it would look a lot like what they have made. Ark is a search engine designed entirely for people search, letting you look for others across multiple social networks and other websites by sifting through 30 different filters — such as hometowns, universities, current cities and more. For more in-depth coverage of Ark, you can check out our recent article on the company here.
Chute: Lots of apps today want to add photo and video sharing capabilities — but when it comes time to do so, their developers have to build their own systems from the ground up. Chute wants to take care of all that for them. Chute has built one cloud platform that provides photo and video infrastructure as a service through a combo of APIs, iOS and Android SDKs, and component libraries. So far more than 200 apps have used Chute, and 700 are on its waiting list. Its customers include MSNBC, Today.com, ESPN, Conde Nast, and many more big names.
Minefold: Massive multi-player games such as Minecraft often require users to host their own servers in order to play. But as Zynga has proven, the average gamer today isn’t necessarily a computer science geek keen to set up complicated hardware — they just want to plug in and play. Minefold lets people do that, providing a hosting service for massive multiplayer games so that players can simply press one button and start playing. So far, it works with Minecraft, where week-over-week it has seen 34 percent user growth and 36 percent revenue growth.
Exec: Ever wish you had your own personal assistant? The Exec app lets you have one at your disposal within ten minutes for $25 an hour. You can use Exec to outsource errands and small jobs such as dry cleaning pickup and basic research tasks, and so far it has proved quite popular: 99 percent of customers in the past week have rated jobs completed with Exec with four or five stars, 29 percent of customers come back within the first week of using it, and the company has already processed $32,000 worth of transactions since launching in beta earlier this year. You can read our previous coverage of Exec here and here.
99dresses: A site where women can trade their high end, gently used clothes and accessories, with the aim of allowing them to have a virtual “endless” closet of clothes at their disposal. When people contribute clothing, they get “buttons” they can spend to buy other items on 99dresses. They can also buy more buttons with cash. In its pilot launch in Australia, 4500 dresses were uploaded and 3500 were sold. You can read more in-depth coverage of the company here.
Matterport: Matterport has created a system that lets anyone quickly and easily create a 3D model of physical objects and interior spaces. MatterPort has constructed a low cost point and shoot camera device that records what a space or object looks like and renders a copy of it automatically.
Today, VentureBeat is at Y Combinator’s semi-annual Demo Day at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. Twice a year, the incubator grabs the entrepreneurs from its three-month program and throws them onstage to present before the best potential investors and press Silicon Valley has to offer.
Each company generally gets a $5,000 base amount and $5,000 per founder from Y Combinator to help it get up and running. It’s then up to each startup to raise additional funding from angel and venture capital investors. Some notable Y Combinator alumni include Hipmunk, Scribd, Rapportive, Airbnb, Dropbox, OMGPOP, and Reddit.
We’ll be reporting on the presentations all day. Below is a list of the 39 companies that demoed, not including those that are still in stealth mode and presenting off the record.
The companies only gave us tiny blurbs about what they do; we’ll update you with more details as the day goes on.
PlanGrid: Blueprints for tablets.
Medigram: Chat for doctors.
Zillabyte: Palantir for salespeople.
HireArt: Employee agency 2.0.
Flutter: Gesture controls for webcams.
Givespark: Celebrity fundraising.
Popset: Group photo albums.
SendHub: SMS for organizers.
Screenleap: Screen sharing.
Coderwall: Quantified resumes for software developers.
LVL6: Social mobile games.
Midnox: Video camera app and hosting.
42Floors: Commercial real estate search.
Sonalight: Voice texting for drivers.
Your Mechanic: Airbnb for car repair.
Crowdtilt: Kickstarter for groups.
Flypad: Smartphone as game controller.
Carsabi: Used car search.
AnyPerk: Discounts as employee benefits.
TiKL: A walkie-talkie app.
Dealupa: Deal aggregator.
Priceonomics: Price guides for everything.
Kyte: Turns any Android phone into a kids’ phone.
EveryArt: Commissioned art marketplace.
Shoptiques: Online aggregator for real-world retail boutique shops.
Pair: Messaging for couples.
Daily Muse: Lets users discover “inspired places to work.”
AnyVivo: A marketplace for living things.
Per Vices: Software-defined radio.
iCracked: Tablet repair network.
Socialcam: Video sharing.
HackPad: Real-time wiki.
FamilyLeaf: Facebook for families.
Ark: People search.
Chute: Images and videos as a service.
Minefold: Multiplayer game hosting.
Exec: Uber for errands and tasks.
99dresses: Women trade clothes.
MatterPort: 3D scanning.
WatchDox, a file sharing service for highly sensitive documents, announced it has raised $9 million in its latest round of funding.
WatchDox helps companies share highly sensitive data across across several devices and collaborate on documents in a secured environment. The service is like a much more secure DropBox for businesses and government agencies.
Before a file is even shared, WatchDox also provides layers of security to documents to restrict how they can be viewed and shared. With a Microsoft Office plug-in, document owners can control whether or not a shared file can be printed, copied, or emailed. You can even set limits on how long someone else can access the document and track geographically where the document has been downloaded or viewed. And if someone downloads a file secured by WatchDox and then looses the device, the file can be remotely destroyed.
Similarly to Google Docs, WatchDox’s Workspace lets you create documents that can be worked on by a team of people in a protected environment. You can control who can access a specific data room, where sensitive documents can be upload and worked on by a group of people.
WatchDox’s service is available as a plug-in for Microsoft Office and Outlook, two native applications called WatchDox Uploader and Sync, and with iOS and Blackberry apps. The company is developing an Android app.
This latest round of funding for WatchDox was led by investment firm Blackstone, which announced it will begin using WatchDox’s services.
WatchDox has previously raised $14.4 million from Shasta Ventures, Gemini Israel Funds, and Shlomo Kramer. The company is based in Mountain View, California and was founded in 2007.
Lock on screen image via Shutterstock
Loopt, a mobile location services pioneer, has been snapped up by an unlikely suitor. Green Dot, a company that specializes in prepaid debit cards, announced today that it has acquired the company for $43.4 million.
Loopt started out as a way to easily locate all of your friends, but the company has since added features like Loopt Qs, an easy way to share your opinion about specific places, and local deals. The acquisition is the end of a long journey for Loopt, which was founded in early 2005, long before check-in services like Foursquare hit the scene.
Despite being one of the first mobile services to focus on location, Loopt never saw the widespread adoption of its younger competitors. Now, though, it may be able to use its experience in the mobile location field to help improve Green Dot’s business.
“We believe that mobile phones have the potential to change the way people interact with their bank, control their money and pay for goods and services,” Green Dot CEO Steve Streit said in a statement today. “Loopt has innovative mobile technology, market leading mobile programming capabilities and compelling intellectual property. Meanwhile, Green Dot has a large customer base, a robust enterprise-level financial services infrastructure and retail point-of-sale financial transaction capabilities deployed at major retailers nationwide.”
Green Dot says that acquiring Loopt will help it to increase customer acquisition of its debit cards, create new payments and banking services, and help it to power a future mobile wallet. The company also notes that Loopt “holds several patents that are applicable to mobile marketing in the context of location-based messaging delivered real-time to a mobile handset.”
Loopt is based in Mountain View, California, and raised a total of $17 million in funding. The company’s headquarters will now become Green Dot’s hub in the Valley for mobile products.
VentureBeat is holding its second annual MobileSummit this April 2-3 in Sausalito, Calif. The invitation-only event will debate the five key business and technology challenges facing the mobile industry today, and participants — 180 mobile executives, investors, and policymakers — will develop concrete, actionable solutions that will shape the future of themobile industry. You can find out more at our Mobile Summit site.
The New York Times says that the day is nearly here thanks to secret augmented reality glasses created in a Google lab.
First of all, let’s take a moment to digest the concept that Google has a secret lab. I imagine it to be like the Batcave, buried deep within a hillside in Mountain View, California.
Now imagine these Google scientists (I’m picturing brainy Oompa Loompas) working on all kinds of futuristic gadgets that they’ve seen in spy and scifi movies.
The data-display glasses comes out of both genres. Alien hunter, Gwen Cooper of Torchwood has a pair of contact lens that allow her to read messages typed in by a remote computer. Hopefully, the messages you get on your new Google Glasses won’t be as dramatic.
The Times says the glasses will most likely be used to feed entertainment and helpful information to the wearer. They could offer walking directions (please, no driving directions), data about a landmark, clips from a movie playing at a nearby theater and, of course, ads.
Just when I was getting used to giving the waitress my cell phone in order to use a coupon. . .
Obviously, the displays are designed to deliver information without impeding eyesight, but the experts say they’re not for 24/7 use.
What this means is that in the near future, not only will we have people walking down the street seemingly talking to themselves, but now they’ll be hopping over and dodging objects only they can see.
This could be very amusing.
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