Google’s EricSchmidt told a SXSWaudience in Austin today that Google is “very, very worried about” the growing financial inequality and subsequent protests in San Francisco. “The average person there has benefited from the automation, the globalization, the technology,” he said, and predicted that inequality will become “the No. 1 issue of democracies.”… Read More
Trusper, an app that collects lifestyletips from users, has gained five million users in eight months. The initial numbers look promising: Users view over 10 million tips per day, outpacing similarlifestyle apps.
And this all happened in beta, through word-of-mouth marketing.
Trusper’s tips primarily focus on health and beauty, but the service plans to expand into other categories, such as home and garden and relationships. Frequent submitters earnpoints that can be redeemed for gift cards and discounts at many popular stores.
Now, backed by $ 6.17 million in funding led by DCM, Charles Schwab, and other investors, Trusper’s gone gold. The app officially launched today and is available on the App Store and Google Play.
The app’s users are mainly women aged 18 – 45. While Trusper said in its press release that “monetization is not currently [its] primary focus,” it also said it is currently in talks with unspecified companies to allow sponsored tips and offers. By comparison, it took Twitter four years to add sponsored tweets and Facebook seven years to add advertising to users’ news feeds.
It’ll be interesting to see how Trusper implements these sponsored tips without risking the app’s main draw: tips submitted by users for users. But for now, it looks like the company could create a tip on how to drive product adoption with little marketing.
Many decades before satellites even existed, a Japanese cartographer named Hatsusaburo Yoshida was drawing cities as though he was floating thousands of feetabove them. His vivid, colourful drawings are almost 100 years old now — but they’re just as exciting as they were in 1914. More »
Just yesterday, we posted about Bryan Seely, a man willing to speak about the copious manipulation of GoogleMaps that’s seriously affecting smallbusinesses. Seely had since spoken about a more dire vulnerability in Google Maps, which allowed him to tap calls to the FBI and Secret Service. Turns out, the FBI and Secret Service get some quite mundane calls. More »
One of the more troubling technology stories to come out of the past week is the assault on Sarah Slocum, a San Francisco-based tech enthusiast and writer, who was apparently targeted because she was wearing Google Glass in a bar.
Like many incidents of this nature, the exact account of what happened is a little fuzzy. Slocum said she was merely showing friends how the connected headset works when other bar patrons began hurling insults her way. One witness told local media she was "running around very excited," which annoyed some of the people around her. But it's revealing that Slocum has publicly come forward with her account, while the people who confronted her have not. Read more...
What will the next ‘big’ thing be? That is the key question investors are asking and companies are brainstorming.
Disruptive technological change seems to be a constant, but is it really changing the way companies and people operate as much as innovations in the past have? Are incremental advances delivering on the promise of value and impact?
The Economist will assemble its leading journalists and top innovation thought leaders to discuss and debate the key issues facing corporate executives, technologists, engineers, designers and entrepreneurs at its Innovation Forum, March 27th in Berkeley, California.
What inspires Isabelle Olsson, the lead industrial designer for Google Glass? What are companies like Cisco Systems, AT&T, Pfizer, Nissan, Microsoft, and Lockheed Martin doing to remain innovative in today’s market?
C-level and senior executives will gather at the Haas School of Business to gain fresh insight on what it takes to bring a company’s innovative ideas to the next stage. These executives are responsible for information technology, strategy, and marketing, as well as driving innovation and new product development.
Attendees will collaborate in strategy groups, learn the most effective practices that extend from the C-suite and R&D labs through the sales force and front-line employees and uncover ways to use innovation to drive growth.
Experts in the startup world from Google, Waze, Pebble Technology, and Indiegogo will also be present to lead discussions on how companies can find financing, innovate responsibly, and tackle public policy.
Other sessions include “Managing the risk of innovation: How companies take the leap,” “The speed of innovation,” and “Institutional innovation: Government’s major role.” View the full agenda here.
VentureBeat readers can save $ 400 on tickets to Innovation Forum. Just enter the promotional code: EMPMPVEN. Register here.
Google has begun pushing its “Auto Backup” photo archival software to Mac and Windows users via the company’s social networking platform, Google+. The promotion is new, we’ve confirmed, though the software itself was first launched back in December. At that time, Googlebeganoffering the desktop utility as a part of its older Picasa photo-sharing platform, which… Read More
You can only admire Mark Zuckerberg. If the game is Whack-A-mole he is prepared to whack them, small, medium or large – no matter the cost. Whacking moles is the only way to earn points and points translate into life.
Think about it. Would you give up 20 percent of your worth and 35 percent of your cash if you got to live on in the face of an otherwise certain demise. Of course you would! By this criteria Facebook is brave, bold and right. And it definitely didn’t overpay. Bravo, Facebook (really!).
It’s Still Act I
But we have seen this coming, and it doesn’t end here. This is Act I, Scene 3 of a multi-act drama. Let’s recall the previous scenes. I have written about them on TechCrunch.
Facebook has, through this acquisition, made the transformation from a web-based social network into a production studio and holding company for a portfolio of in-house productions like Paper and Messenger, combined with some outsourced efforts like Instagram and WhatsApp. When Facebook launched Facebook Home, it tried to change mobile into a Facebook world. But Facebook has not changed mobile. Mobile has changed Facebook.
Facebook has become the mobile-era equivalent of New Line Cinema or Electronic Arts. Like them, it has to now focus on audience and because of that, distribution. This is a new game. It is not the same as having a centralized social network with a captive audience. It involves the continuous production of hits, similar to HBO and Netflix. And for those it has to acquire, it turns the Facebook executives into players of whack-a-mole. Facebook is no longer a technology platform. It’s a studio.
Just Another App Studio, Needing Distribution
As a mobile studio, Facebook is just a developer with apps. It is dependent on the owner of the operating system and the device for distribution – just as companies in the heyday of Microsoft were dependent on the OS and device. Distribution deals were cut to get your “App” on the desktop. Microsoft might suddenly put a feature in the OS and kill the need for it in an app. Now Apple and Google sit in that position.
For Facebook, Apple and Google represent its “Microsoft.” iMessage and Hangouts are already large competitors to WhatsApp and Messenger. Photos are the captive of the OS via Google+ on Android and PhotoStream on iOS. Survival is about innovating where the platform owners will not go – at least any time soon. Facebook has no track record of success in this world and will need to out-innovate both startups and the OS owners in order to prosper.
To be clear, this was predictable and inevitable. The only other possible outcome was the Yahooization of Facebook – a company washed up on the shore as the tide goes out on the old era. This is the right thing for Facebook to do for its future and its investors.
Users Don’t Care Who Wins
But unlike Investors, Facebook’s users don’t care whether it wins and survives or fails and dies. This is the other new element of Act I, Scene III. Users are truly in control on mobile. They adopt applications simply because they like them. This can be based on a social truth — their friends use them — or a feature they love, as with Snapchat and, earlier, Instagram. Users really care about features and friends. But they no longer need a holistic social ecosystem to provide them.
The phone itself, and the apps it contains, are sufficient to deliver on those needs. A disappearing photo message today, an anonymous secrets app the next, and who knows what tomorrow. Mobile is not a place with a solid floor under the feet of an app studio any more than the movie-going audience are loyal to a specific studio.
So What Is An Entrepreneur To Do?
Mark Zuckerberg and his team are doing an excellent job, but in the long run they cannot win because, just like a Snapchat message, apps themselves are ephemeral. Which Windows apps from the days of Windows 3.1 still dominate the platform?
Even platforms are somewhat ephemeral, as the emergence of wearables and context reveal. The pace of change is faster than at any time in history and the scale of the potential audience for the “new” is unparalleled. Entreprenuer’s should applaud Facebook’s instincts and execution and build the things that will make its attempts at survival difficult. They will be richly rewarded. The bigger they think, and the longer-term the implications of their inventions, the more threatening they will be, and of course more valuable.
On the web, no one can hear you converse – or perhaps they can, but it’s not terribly easy to surface them and have a sustained, engaged dialogue around any particular topic.
Threaded comment streams do this to some extent, as do forums, message boards, and even social networks like Facebook and Twitter. But none do thematic or topic-based discussion well, according to Hubub‘s founders, hence the need for the startup.
Toronto- and New York-based Hubub launched in beta quietly late last year, and today it’s announcing its $ 8.5 million Series A round of funding. That money will help the company scale and add more engineering talent to its team to continue to build product, founder and CEO Peter L. Corsell explained to me in an interview. But it’s mostly business as usual, as the startup continues its mission of trying to build on what was started with the online forum, but never really improved since.
“Specifically what really gave us the idea was that we were watching the Egyptian protests, in the latter part of the Arab Spring and we looked at the way people were using Facebook and Twitter, which was both inspiring and novel,” Corsell explained in an interview. “Yet it occurred to us that there was also an unmet need to give a tool to rapidly convene passionate, engaged communities around a topic of interest.”
Thus was Hubub born, which is designed to build these communities, where users can jump in and contribute the best content, be it user-generated or collected from the best of the web, around specific topics. Hububs (the individual topic nodes created) are user-generated and user-curated, but there’s also a degree of automation where you can view auto-collected content around certain keywords, too, making this effectively an aggregation search engine, too.
“When you think about the future of search broadly, I see it bifurcating between what I would think of as more tactical queries where you have a question and there’s one right answer or a small finite pool of good answers,” Corsell said. “The other type of search is, if you Google for example ‘what were the most searched for terms in 2013,’ it’s topics: It’s ‘iPad,’ it’s Bengazi,’ it’s ‘Kate Middleton.’ What excites me about Hubub is as the community matures, it becomes a really great place to go to immerse yourself, in articles, in photos and videos and more.”
Other efforts attempting to build conversations around specific topics haven’t always fared too well: Branch nabbed a decent exit to Facebook, but even big league efforts like Google Wave fizzled quickly, and as Corsell himself notes, there hasn’t really been anything between the legacy (read: outdated) model of forums and the too fast-paced, stream-based vision of Twitter that manages to keep things on topic over a sustained period, with real back-and-forth.
Corsell thinks Hubub has the right mix of media, polls and sentiment analysis to make a real impact, and he says early traction backs up that belief. I’m still not sure that there’s a real need for this kind of platform between the existing social media giants, but Hubub’s investors in this round, which include a number of private investors, are definitely betting that there is. Hubub plans to launch its mobile client within the next few weeks, too, which could have a big impact in terms of validating the model.