startup

Absurdly Hyped Startup Airtime Has Officially Flopped And Top Execs Are Fleeing

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/absurdly-hyped-startup-airtime-has-officially-flopped-and-top-execs-are-fleeing-2012-10

Olivia Munn Airtime

Airtime, the startup with a product that connects random Facebook users in video chats, is a huge flop and its senior people are fleeing the company, Liz Gannes of All Things D reports.

CTO Eric Feng, brought in through a March acquisition, is on his way out. Cofounder Shawn Fanning is no longer day to day at the company.

It’s particularly bad news that Feng is leaving because after joining the company in March, he fired everyone who had been working on the startup’s tech before.

Airtime, which raised $33 million from Kleiner Perkins, only launched its product 12 weeks ago, but it’s already pretty obvious not many people want to use the thing. Gannes reports that it only has 11,000 daily active users. By comparison, Instagram has 11 million.

Fanning’s cofounder is Sean Parker, the guy played by Justin Timberlake in the Facebook movie. Gannes says he was the driving force behind Airtime’s weird product launch event, which was attended by all sorts of mid-level celebrities. He says this launch “worked” because it drove traffic. Uh huh.

Gannes talked to Parker, and has more quotes from him here >>

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Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012 news No Comments

Giftly, A Startup That Wanted To Make All Gift Cards Digital, Had A Pivotal Moment Yesterday

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/giftly-2012-9

Tim Bently Giftly

Giftly launched last September with nearly $3 million in funding and a dream of making all gift cards mobile.

But after the holiday season struck, founder Tim Bentley and his team of ten started to rethink the product.

Giftly was a location-based gift card service. The sender could pick a venue and gift a friend a small sum to spend there. It used geo-location to unlock the giftcard when the recipient neared the venue.

But Bently found people preferred gifting items over locations. He and his team shifted the company’s vision, so much so that the site now reads, “A Giftly is not a giftcard…it’s better!”

They spent six months creating an iPhone app which went live yesterday. Now Giftly lets users send items or experiences to friends from their mobile devices.

Here’s how it works: A user selects a Facebook friend to send a gifted amount to, up to $250. They then select a suggested venue, but the Giftly can be unlocked and used anywhere by the friend. They also suggest an item for the friend to buy (see screenshot below).

When the friend uses the Giftly, they’re asked to send a quick message of thanks and a photo of the purchase to the user.

At its core, Giftly is a way to send small sums of money to friends, wrapped up in a thoughtful way. If you actually want to send your friend something like flowers or a cupcake, you’re still better off calling an actual store and getting the items delivered. But Bently thinks there’s a use case for people who want an easy way to be thoughtful from time to time.

“When we surveyed our users before, we asked them ! how ofte n they’d buy gift cards for people. They’d usually say twice per year, on birthdays and holidays,” says Bently says of pivot. “We realized we were building a product around giftcards and locations, and we were being too conservative. Really, people give little gifts to each other all the time.”

Here’s what the new app looks like:

giftly

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Friday, September 7th, 2012 news No Comments

PayPal Buys Card.io To Add More Startup Energy To The Company (EBAY)

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/paypal-card-io-acquisition-2012-7

PayPal and Card.io

PayPal just acquired Card.io, a startup whose technology makes it easy for mobile apps to scan credit cards—a handy feature that saves users the time it takes to enter a 16-digit card number.

We don’t think Card.io’s card-scanning feature is that earthshaking. But we think it’s a positive sign that PayPal is snapping up startups—especially, as PayPal executive Hill Ferguson writes, to bring on their “passionate and independent team.”

Ferguson himself came to PayPal through its acquisition of Zong last year, and Zong CEO David Marcus now runs PayPal.

PayPal has needed an injection of startup talent from top to bottom, as competitors like Stripe and Square nibble away at its best growth opportunities. Stripe, in particular, has wooed developers who want to add payments to their Web services.

It’s significant that Card.io is used in apps from startups like Uber and TaskRabbit: PayPal needs people who know how to build services that appeal to other developers.

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Tuesday, July 17th, 2012 news No Comments

Hot Travel Startup Hipmunk Goes After Company Demanding Patent Payout

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/hipmunk-i2z-technology-patent-license-2012-7

Troll 400x300

Startup Hipmunk is taking legal action against i2z Technology over a patent dispute.

The patent in question, No. 5,345,551, is one that allows for content to be displayed on numerous windows.

Hipmunk is suing the company after i2z initially stated Hipmunk was infringing on its patent and demanded a licensing agreement.

The other company, i2z Technology, is a shell business located in Texas and run by a lawyer based out of California, according to GigaOm.

The company doesn’t appear to provide any service or product but instead gathers patents in order to make money through licensing or litigation—what’s known in the business as a “non-practicing entity,” or, less politely, a “patent troll.”

This request came right after Hipmunk secured $15 million in funding.

The travel startup, which allows users to search for flights and hotels, didn’t take the bait. It says that i2z Technology has tried to pull this stunt with other companies, including Yelp, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, and many others.

In its lawsuit, Hipmunk states, “the products and services on its travel search site do not infringe, contribute to the infringement of, or induce others to infringe any valid and enforceable claim of the ’551 patent, either directly or indirectly, either literally or under the doctrine of equivalents.”

Hipmunk’s lawsuit shouldn’t come as a surprise to people familiar with the startup. One of the advisors, Alexis Ohanian, is an outspoken advocate for internet freedom and in the past has protested against SOPA. It wouldn’t be shocking to see him take on patent reform.

Check out the lawsuit in its entirety:

Hipmunk Versus i2z Technology

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Thursday, July 5th, 2012 news No Comments

When Insurance Agencies Almost Killed Jessica Scorpio’s Startup, She Got Her State Government To Change The Law

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/insurance-agencies-blocked-getaround-wrote-a-law-2012-7

Jessica Scorpio of Getaround

Getaround was a hit when it launched last summer at TechCrunch Disrupt; it went on to raise a few million in financing.

It’s a peer-to-peer car rental service; when one person isn’t using their vehicle, they can rent it to a neighbor and give them a virtual set of keys.

But insurance companies almost killed Getaround before it could take off.

“We knew insurance would be our main problem,” Scorpio tells Inc.’s Christine Lagorio. Agencies wanted to know who would cover a car renter’s accident, the owner or the insurance company. Scorpio says she received a lot of notices that read, “We regret to inform you that we will not provide insurance coverage for this operation.”

Most people would have admitted defeated, but Scorpio found an impossible-sounding solution.

She helped write a new law.

“We started to plant the seeds in Sacramento. Democrats really like it because it’s green; Republicans really like it because it’s small business,” Scorpio tells Lagorio of her law proposal.

“The California law is AB 1871. It says that when participating in a personal-vehicle-sharing program, the car owner’s insurance is never going to be affected. An owner can make up to the value of the car—say, $10,000 a year for a normal vehicle—from renting it, but the car-sharing organization has to provide the insurance during the car-share period,” she says.

Three states have adopted a similar laws and now Berkshire Hathaway has agreed to insure GetAround.

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Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012 news No Comments

If You Miss Tweets Popping Up Automatically On LinkedIn, Startup IFTTT Has A 90-Second Workaround

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-tweet-to-linkedin-2012-6

Yesterday, Twitter cut ties with LinkedIn; tweets will no longer appear on LinkedIn via status updates.

It’s part of Twitter’s effort to control tweet consumption.

If you miss your tweets popping up automatically on LinkedIn, there’s a 90-second workaround using startup IFTTT [via Monica Rogati].

IFTTT creates a series of “If. Then” statements for web applications, like glue that binds the Internet together.

If you want two applications that aren’t currently integrated to work together, like LinkedIn and Twitter, you can create a “recipe” on IFTTT that says,

“If I tweet, then it will appear in my LinkedIn status.”

You can do this by heading to IFTTT and selecting Twitter as the trigger application, and LinkedIn as the action application in your if/then statement.

In 7 quick steps, your tweets will reappear on LinkedIn.

ifttt

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Saturday, June 30th, 2012 news No Comments

VC Explains Why A Founder’s Initial Idea Often Doesn’t Matter At All

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/vc-explains-why-a-founders-initial-idea-often-doesnt-matter-at-all-2012-6

laura sacharInvestor Laura Sachar says she can spot entrepreneurs who have ideas, but don’t know how to execute them.

Sachar, general partner and founder of StarVest Partners, has been involved in early stage companies since the mid-’90s. She shared her insights on a panel at Business Insider’s Startup 2012 conference:

Sachar focuses on people in the early stage, because it’s about the belief that the person can figure out what to do with the business to make it successful.

Often, the initial idea is not how the company succeeds and drives revenue,” says Sachar. “Focusing on the people first, and a belief that they can develop attractive ideas and move from there, makes sense.”

There needs to be a clear path that shows that the person can turn the idea into something real.

“If you can’t execute, you don’t have a company,” she says. “A lot of people have ideas.”

Nowadays, companies don’t need as much money to get momentum. She suggests that you take more money than you think you need (if it’s available), because so many investors are looking for the companies that are gaining tons of velocity in the early going. By having that money, you have more resources to pull that off.

NOW SEE: 10 VCs And Founders Give Their Best Advice For Raising Money >

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Monday, June 18th, 2012 news No Comments

All Those E-mails From Pinterest Are Very Good For This Guy

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/all-those-e-mails-from-pinterest-are-very-good-for-this-guy-2012-3


SendGrid CEO Jim Franklin

SendGrid has sent 30 billion e-mails in the three years it’s been in business — and none of them are spam.

SendGrid is an e-mail cloud service hired by Pinterest, Foursquare, Hootsuite, Spotify, job sites, daily deal sites and many other companies.

About 40,000 Web applications use SendGrid, says its CEO  — and Boulder startup icon — Jim Franklin. And none of it is spam because users sign up these e-mails, such as job openings, friend requests and the like.

Franklin says it even coaches its customers on how to do e-mail so people don’t report it as spam.

“One person sending e-mail to another is easy. But an app sending out e-mail is hard. E-mail is a problem for developers,” explains Franklin.

So it’s no surprise that SendGrid is growing at 10% annually — it now sends out more than 3 billion emails per month — and it recently landed Microsoft Azure as a partner. SendGrid will now be the default e-mail service for any app using Microsoft’s cloud, Franklin says. New Azure developers qualify for 25,000 free e-mails a month.

The company is one of the shining stars of the blossoming Boulder startup scene. It began in Boulder’s TechStars accelerator program in 2009 and has boomed from there. It recently landed raised $21 million in Series B funding in January — for a total of $27 million raised so far

As SendGrid uses Rackspace, Web apps that also use Rackspace qualify for 40,000 free e-mails per month.

All who know SendGrid are expecting an IPO in as little three years. One of its VCs, Bessemer Venture Partners, has done over 100 IPOs, notes Franklin. That’s if the company doesn’t accept an acquisition offer before then, says Franklin. 

And if you’re interested in one of the 30 job openings at the company, you might also want to know that the company motto is the 4H’s: Honest, hungry, humble, happy.

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Thursday, March 1st, 2012 news No Comments

Facebook DOMINATES Google+, Tumblr, And Pinterest (GOOG)

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/chart-of-the-day-facebook-dominates-google-tumblr-and-pinterest-2012-2

Facebook is absolutely dominating other social networks — with users spending more than 6 hours on the site for the month of January, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.

comScore released some new data on social media site usage for the month of January. The next closest competitor is Tumblr — where users only spent about an hour and a half in January.

chart of the day, avg time spent on social media sites, feb 28 2012

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Wednesday, February 29th, 2012 news No Comments

Caterina Fake Launches Pinwheel, Which Lets You Leave Notes Around The World

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/caterina-fake-launches-pinwheel-which-lets-you-leave-notes-around-the-world-2012-2


Caterina Fake

Caterina Fake, who previously cofounded Flickr and Hunch, has launched a new startup called Pinwheel, which lets you leave vitrtual notes around the world.

She announced the launch on her personal blog earlier today.

Enter the Internet of things, where you can choose to follow people, places or things. The notes you leave can be private, or you can share them with everything and everybody. 

The possibilities seem endless.

For instance, Fake shared a note she wrote for her friend Lauren:

note

Perhaps this would be a more useful note when you’re roaming around town: “Find me a Nearby Toilet NOW.” 

That seems to be coming soon: Fake wrote on her blog that she plans on building out a notification system so you can get pinged when someone you follow sends out a note.

We knew last year that True Ventures, SV Angel and her fund, Founder Collective, invested.

As far as making money, Fake is betting on selling sponsored notes.

The site is still in private beta — you can sign up here for an invite to try out the web and mobile app. The iOS version is coming up next.

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Friday, February 17th, 2012 news No Comments

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