The Senate's move to force senior executives from the National Broadband Network Company to appear before its new NBN committee starkly demonstrates the extreme degree of politicisation which the NBN project as a whole is subject to.
Instead of giving your loved ones a traditional burial, why not send them off in style with a memorial spaceflight? That's the vision of Elysium Space, a company that aims to launch portions of cremated human remains into space.
Under Elysium Space's plan, human ashes will launch into space and orbit the Earth for several months before burning up in the atmosphere as a "shooting star." The company has already launched a mobile app to track ashes in orbit and hopes to launch its first memorial flight in 2014.
"A memorial spaceflight is a unique experience for family and friends to make a memory and remember a loved one," said Elysium Space founder Thomas Civeit, a former NASA engineer. "We believe that now is the time to change the vision of death from the Underground to the Celestial." Read more...
The National Broadband Network Company has confirmed that Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has approved a further 150,000 premises to receive a full Fibre to the Premises network deployment, on top of the 300,000 premises where construction firms have already received deployment instructions.
The National Broadband Network Company has revealed plans to commence trials of the Fibre to the Basement and Fibre to the Node network infrastructure models, including use of the vectoring standard, as the Coalition’s plan to reshape Labor’s previously Fibre to the Premises-based NBN vision kicks into gear.
Today, WillCall is a concert ticket sales app aiming to grow by adding the option to gift tickets to friends. But founder Donnie Dinch’s ambitions are more akin to that of Travis Kalanick. Dinch has been staffing up and raising money to transform WillCall into an Uber for nightlife — one that makes everything from attending shows to buying drinks and merchandise much easier.
WillCall’s most recent hire almost went to Uber, in fact. That’s former Ticketfly head of business development Ryan O’Connor (seen above left). He should aid WillCall’s relations with venues and ticket companies. WillCall also snapped up Sophie Xie (above right), a lauded designer who was the lead on Stickers for Facebook Messenger, and also flexed her pixel skills beautifying bespoke check-in app Dolo and storytelling photo app Shadow Puppet.
WillCall’s latest feature is the ability to gift tickets to friends. Before, you could browse the WillCall app’s curated set of hip upcoming local concerts in San Francisco or New York. If you bought multiple tickets, though, you and your friends would have to show up at the venue together or work out leaving their names with the ticket-taker.
Now you can send your extras to friends. They’ll get a push notification and see the tickets in their WillCall app if they already have it installed. If not, they’re prompted to download it to use their ticket. It’s dumb that you can’t gift the tickets when you buy them and have to go through another flow, but it works.
“We think this is an opportunity for growth” Dinch tells me. Instead of one person being the WillCall ticketholder for a bunch of friends, Dinch says “Hopefully this translates into three or four users.”
The money for these hires and product development comes from WillCall’s $ 2.1 million in total funding from 500 Startups, angels like Soundtracking’s Steve Jang and Uber’s Garrett Camp, and most recently SV Angel and Sean Parker who helped kick in its latest $ 1.2 million round.
But the plan isn’t to earn a return on concert tickets alone. The way Uber is trying to redefine transportation, WillCall is trying to redefine going out.
Dinch explains “We’re not building a ticket company. We’re a social logistics company for live music. We’re going beyond the idea of selling admission to show. We’re trying to remove the friction and bullshit that’s in between deciding to have a good time and having a good time.”
Now is a better time than any, as startups like WillCall can increasingly trust that people will have a smartphone in their pocket. If they’ve already hooked their credit card into the app, why should they have to break out cash or that card again to pay for a band’s t-shirt or get a drink at the bar? It’s not just about getting a cut of the venue or the band’s money. It’s about growing the pie for everyone, because people buy more when it’s easy.
WillCall’s been pioneering push notification commerce, alerting friends when you buy tickets so they can too. But it’s also working on creative new ways to endear themselves to venues. For example, it wants the ticket taker with the WillCall guest list at the door to be able to get people in as fast as possible. So WillCall is looking use new Bluetooth standards to detect the phones of WillCall customers nearby. That way when you get within 10 feet of the door, your name appears at the top of the list.
The company’s mission stems from its employees being fun-loving people who want the bar and club scene updated for the 21st century. Dinch fumes about wrestling with the oft-broken ATM at the cash-only dive bar near the office, “I can buy tacos from a car with my name [thanks to apps like Square] but I have to use this archaic machine at Dear Mom.”
There are plenty issues in the space where solutions could let small businesses and musicians earn more money while helping everyone have an enjoyable night on the town. WillCall needs the gifting feature because its user base is still pretty small. But for now, as it swiftly scales up its headcount, Dinch jokes that for WillCall, “our biggest problem is we don’t have enough chairs.”
TechCrunch » Social
How often at work do you hear, "that won't be easy", "that won't be simple", "this will be really complicated and hard", "not sure we can juggle all the priority work"? It's often the first line of defence from the folks at work who are being loaded up with more to do. Really quite a More Info »
The post Handy hints and sure-fire ways to kill growth and, possibly your company appeared first on Anthill Online.
To compete you need a website. I think that most entrepreneurs get that. What many do not get, however, is how to let your company website do the heavy lifting for you.
YFS Magazine - Startups, Small Business News and Entrepreneurial Culture
Darnyelle A. Jervey
Twitter today announced its latest acquisition, along with a move into offering richer resources to attract better engineering talent to the company. It has bought Marakana, an open-source technical training company; and in turn, Marakana will be the force behind a new effort called Twitter University. School mascot: a blue bird, not a whale.
“The founders, Marko and Sasa Gargenta, have impressed us with their entrepreneurial leadership, commitment to learning and technical expertise,” writes Chris Fry, the head of engineering at the company in a blog post.
The move is an important sign of a few things:
First, as Twitter has grown — and become a more mature company now well past the stage of scrappy startup — it’s already made several moves to provide training to help people at the company continue to feel that they are there learning new things, as well as working on projects that make the most of what they already know. Existing training projects, Fry notes, include orientation classes for engineers, iOS Bootcamp, JVM Fundamentals, Distributed Systems and Scala School. It’s important for Twitter to continue to grow these kinds of services to hold on to the people that they have.
Second, establishing something like this, and putting Marakana at the helm of it, could introduce a whole new community of engineers to the company — no small thing at a time when tech companies big and small continue to hunt for top talent, especially in competitive markets like Silicon Valley and the Bay Area. Indeed, this is something that Fry points out, too:
“The Marakana team has cultivated a tremendous community of engineers in the Bay Area, and we look forward to engaging with all of you at meet-ups and technical events.”
Fry praises Marakana’s entrepreneurial spirit. And while the site is now effectively shut down with a suggestion for past users to try out NewCircle for similar training services, a look an an archived about page gives us a bit of background about the company. It’s been around since 2001, and runs user groups for Java, HTML5, Android and Agile developers. It has a training management platform called Marakana Spark, which is now also offline.
Interestingly, it looks like Marakana emerged just at the time when we were seeing another resurgence of the tech world after the dot-com crash (the first one, that is). When you think about it, it was companies like Marakana that played a role in how the pool of people working in tech has widened.
“It all started with an ad on Craigslist,” the founders write. “A local San Francisco non-profit was looking for a technical person to help with some Java classes. We liked their mission: Bridging the Digital Divide – to help underprivileged youth, minorities and women get into high-tech jobs. The demand was extraordinary. The classes would sell out within hours of being announced. Encouraged by the early wins and success of the participants, we started providing open source training to corporations and governments.” By the time Twitter bought it, Marakana was providing open source training “across the US, Canada, and Asia.”
TechCrunch » Social
Call it a modern coming of age story.
FlightCar Inc., a startup car-sharing service founded by three teenagers, has gone from concept to a bicoastal, venture-backed, 35-employee business in less than 18 months.
Meanwhile, the startup that lets car owners rent out their cars while they’re away, became one of the latest “sharing economy” companies to become embroiled in a law suit. The city of San Francisco claims that FlightCar is illegally operating an airport car-rental company by disregarding permit and fee requirements.
“Things are definitely growing pretty fast,” says 18-year-old CEO Rujul Zaparde, who noted that as of July the site had made more than 1,500 rentals with a listing of 1,400 cars.
The online company, which has raised more than $ 6.2 million in venture funding, operates near San Francisco International Airport and, since late May, Boston’s Logan International Airport. Automobile owners can leave their vehicles for free with FlightCar, which then makes the cars available as low-cost rentals to incoming travelers.
Not only is every rental insured up to $ 1 million and every renter is pre-screened, FlightCar says vehicle owners can make up to $ 20 a day through the service. They’ll also get a free car wash and airport curbside pick-up and drop-off. The company plans to expand to Los Angeles soon and then add other airports over time.
The business was just an embryo last July when Zaparde, childhood friend Kevin Petrovic, now 19, and a third college-age partner started seriously working on FlightCar. But come February this year, the company closed its first seed-round — raising $ 590,000. By July it had attracted roughly $ 6.2 million from investors.
“It was actually pretty random,” Zaparde, who passed up going to Harvard to pursue the business, says of the idea. He had read about Airbnb, an online vacation accommodations-sharing business that allows users to “host” by renting out their homes or to book a room in one of those houses or condos. Zaparde thought the same concept could work with cars, and that it made sense to focus a car-sharing business on an airport.
While the idea seemed simple enough, you don’t just reel in $ 6 million overnight.
FlightCar went through two startup accelerators — the Brandery and Y Combinator — which provided $ 20,000 and $ 100,000, respectively, and mentorship. The accelerators were also key in fine tuning their message and presentation skills, which, Zaparde says, “definitely helped” the entrepreneurs attract future funding.
“They provided a lot of overall guidance, and I don’t think we could have done half of what we did without them,” says Zaparde.
Still, having a business within the so-called sharing economy, which is made up of companies that use technology to bring individuals together to buy, rent or swap goods or services, or invest in new ventures, comes with its own set of unique problems — no matter who’s backing your company.
In June, San Francisco filed a lawsuit against the car-sharing startup. The city’s attorney’s office alleges that FlightCar is violating laws that pertain to car-rental companies. Namely, the company isn’t paying 10 percent of its gross profits and a $ 20 per rental transportation fee, which is required of car-rental companies.
“The airport wants to classify us as a traditional car-rental company and we’re not, we’re a car-sharing company,” Zaparde says, adding that FlightCar already indirectly pays 15 percent to 17 percent of its revenue to the airport through contracts with limo companies to pick up and drop off customers at the facility.
Facing similar brushes with regulators and city officials is FlightCar inspiration Airbnb, and a heaping handful of others including Uber, Sidecar and Lyft. The problem, Zaparde says, isn’t that FlightCar and other companies are flouting the law, it’s that regulators and traditional competitors haven’t adapted to the fast-growing sharing economy.
“They’re really, really slow to change,” adds Zaparde. “It makes more sense to share the resources that we have.”
How do you think cities should respond to sharing-economy companies? Let us know with a comment.
Dinah Wisenberg Brin
You’ve probably gotten the third degree in job interviews in the past, but here are some examples that make the third degree feel like a cake walk.
From interviews that last 55 days to fielding hardball questions like “How many people watched YouTube in your country in the last hour,” many of the nation’s top employers put interviewees through the wringer as a matter of policy, according to a survey called “Top 25 Most Difficult Companies to Interview.”
For the third year in a row, New York City-based consulting firm McKinsey & Company wins the dubious honor of toughest interviewer, followed by Chicago-based ThoughtWorks. Rounding out third place is the Boston-based consulting firm Boston Consulting Group, says Glassdoor, the career-community website, which conducted the survey.
To gauge the toughest interviewers, Glassdoor culled the 170,000 interview review submissions over the last 12 months. The ratings are based on five-point scale with one being very easy and five being very difficult.
One noted observation from Glassdoor: Difficult interviews don’t necessarily mean a negative experience once hired. Facebook has the highest satisfaction rating (4.8), Guidewire grabs the number two spot (4.6) and McKinsey & Company rounds out the top three (4.3).
To see a complete list of the 25 most difficult companies for job interviews and what candidates had to say about the process, check out our slideshow: