Posted: May 22nd, 2013 | Author: Colleen Taylor | Filed under: TechCrunch | Tags: VIDEO | No Comments » | 0 views
The last time we met with the folks from Scanadu, we had a very limited look its much buzzed-about line of gadgets that aim to bring vital sign monitoring beyond the realm of the hospital and available to anyone with a smartphone. This week, the company’s CEO Walter De Brouwer stopped by TechCrunch TV with an update to allow us to demo an updated version of the SCOUT and show that Scanadu is coming a significant step closer to actually having its devices in the hands of real users.
As you’ll see in the video, De Brouwer says that Scanadu has discovered in recent months through early testing that there are a few features that people really want in their personal medical devices, so the company has made key updates to the Scout and its other tools — and we got a hands-on look at those.
Updated version of the Scanadu Scout
Also, true to Scanadu’s overall approach to making health accessible and modern, today the company is launching a 30 day crowdfunding campaign through Indiegogo which will let people pay to reserve a first-edition Scanadu Scout (the “early bird special” version is $149 for the device to the first 1,000 participants, with additional units going for $199.) Those who pitch into the campaign will also participate in a usability study of the gadget, which is necessary to bring the SCOUT to FDA approval.
We talk about all this and more — and I get my own vital sign reading — in the video embedded above.
Posted: May 21st, 2013 | Author: Colleen Taylor | Filed under: TechCrunch | Tags: VIDEO | No Comments » | 0 views
Welcome to a brand new episode of Cribs, the TechCrunch TV series that goes straight into the heart of the action at the tech industry’s hottest companies to see what it’s really like for the people who work there.
For this edition we headed out on the road to the New York City headquarters of Fab, the super-popular e-commerce site that has quickly grown over the past couple years to be one of the web’s key shopping destinations (and one of the industry’s hottest companies from a valuation perspective.)
Fab is known for selling all types of products ranging from art to jewelry to furniture, with the key commonality being great design, so our hopes were pretty high when entering into the company’s Manhattan headquarters. As you’ll see in the video above, our tour did not disappoint, and Fab co-founder and chief creative officer Bradford Shane Shellhammer was the perfect person to show us how gorgeous design and high fashion doesn’t have to be intimidating — it can actually be really fun.
Posted: May 20th, 2013 | Author: Colleen Taylor | Filed under: TechCrunch | Tags: Charity, Fashion, VIDEO | No Comments » | 0 views
The tech-dominated San Francisco Bay Area isn’t exactly known as a hub for high fashion — Facebook’s new James Perse staff hoodies are about as fancy as things get around here — and fashion shows aren’t typically in our purview here at TechCrunch TV. So when we were invited to attend the Geek 2 Chic fashion show, an event hosted by Microsoft benefiting the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE, which is pronounced “nifty”) which mentors at-risk youth and teaches them business basics and encourages technology careers, we had to check it out.
These models weren’t the types you’d see at fashion shows in New York or Milan: Geek 2 Chic took 26 “geeks” from the local tech community and gave them full makeovers to take to the catwalk in front of a live audience. It was a fun opportunity to watch people get a little out of their element and have some fun, and of course it was all for a good cause. Check it all out in the video above.
Posted: May 19th, 2013 | Author: Colleen Taylor | Filed under: TechCrunch | Tags: VIDEO | No Comments » | 0 views
Mark Suster of Los Angeles’ GRP Partners is known for his unique insights on the tech and digital media worlds, having famously had success on “both sides of the table” as a repeat entrepreneur turned investor over nearly two decades in the industry. And he hit headlines several times this past week, with his viewpoints on acqui-hires (he says they’re often very bad) and founders stepping down from the CEO role such as what happened with GRP portfolio startup Awe.sm (he says sometimes, it’s the best thing that can happen.)
So when we heard that Suster was in San Francisco for a couple of days, we asked him to come by TechCrunch TV to talk a bit more at length about all that’s been going on. And while he warned us that he was a bit tired due to a late night visiting with industry folks here in the Bay Area the evening before we met, he was just as engaging as ever, talking about the topics mentioned above as well as the latest hot stuff coming out of the Southern California tech scene.
Check it all out in the video embedded above.
Posted: May 17th, 2013 | Author: Colleen Taylor | Filed under: TechCrunch | No Comments » | 0 views
Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, the twin Harvard graduates who famously sparred with Mark Zuckerberg over the founding of Facebook and are now working as tech investors through Winklevoss Capital, are part of the growing group of venture capitalists who have taken a keen interest in Bitcoins. Last month, it was revealed that they personally own roughly one percent of the currency, a stake worth the equivalent of some $11 million. And now, the Winklevosses tell TechCrunch they have invested in Bitcoin in another meaningful way — by leading a funding round for a startup in the space.
BitInstant, a New York City based startup that operates an online platform for buying and selling Bitcoins, has raised $1.5 million in a seed funding round led by Winklevoss Capital with the participation of other strategic investors including money services veteran David Azar. The investment was closed this past fall, but the Winklevosses are just now publicly announcing it in the lead-up to the Bitcoin Foundation’s 2013 Conference being held in Silicon Valley this weekend.
BitInstant, which has a full-time staff of 16 led by CEO Charlie Shrem, has emerged as a key player in the nascent Bitcoin market: The company already processes approximately 30 percent of the money going into and out of Bitcoin, and last month alone facilitated 30,000 transactions, the Winklevosses said in a phone call this week. The funding is meant to allow the company to further scale up its staff and product as it angles to become the go-to site for Bitcoin transfers.
The Winklevosses say they were attracted to invest in BitInstant in large part because of its leadership. CEO Shrem is the vice chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation, and CIO Alex Waters previously worked with the core developers on the original Satoshi Bitcoin client. “Charlie has been in the space for a very long time, and he has an impeccable reputation among Bitcoiners. He knows everyone in the space and everyone in the space knows him,” Cameron Winklevoss said. “One of the most exciting things about people who are into Bitcoin it’s that they’re a really passionate community, and Charlie is a passionate entrepreneur. He would be in that category of someone who lives, breathes, and sleeps Bitcoin.”
Speaking of that community, the world of Bitcoiners does indeed have an interesting edge to it: There’s an underground vibe that seems like it would contrast with the more traditional East Coast prep style of the Winklevosses. In our phone call, Cameron and Tyler said that they’re intrigued by the current feel of the Bitcoin space — and its potential for becoming a bit more structured in the coming years.
“We’re definitely pretty fascinated by it. The classic issue with Bitcoin is that it’s very early days,” Tyler said. “The entrepreneurs in the space are very impressive, but it takes really two areas of expertise: One is technology, and the second is understanding money services and regulation and all those things that are important for sustainability. Most entrepreneurs and companies we see in the space have the tech down, and they’re super strong there, but in terms of being buttoned up and looking like an average bank, it’s hard to couple both of them together. We think that BitInstant and Charlie do a fantastic job of doing both.”
This marks the third big-name funding news for Bitcoin startups in just a few days. Earlier this week Adam Draper announced that half of the companies in his next Boost.vc accelerator program will be focused on bitcoin, and yesterday Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund led a $2 million investment in Bitcoin processing startup BitPay. It will be interesting to see how the Bitcoin space in general evolves as even more buttoned-up types and traditional money managers get involved.
Posted: May 13th, 2013 | Author: Colleen Taylor | Filed under: TechCrunch | No Comments » | 0 views
Formspring, the pioneering Q&A site that allowed people to invite other internet users to “ask me anything” anonymously, is apparently back from the brink. In a tweet and a company blog post, Formspring announced that it has been “saved” and is now “under new management.”
It was just two months ago that Formsping announced plans to shut down, with founder and CEO Ade Olonoh writing in a company blog post (which has now been deleted) that it had “been challenging to sustain the resources needed to keep the lights on.” At that time, the company planned to close down its online Q&A platform on March 31st and eliminate users’ access to their data on April 15th. The last-minute deal announced today indicates that the planned closure didn’t go through after all.
Details on who exactly is in charge now, and what Formspring has in store now that it’s sticking around, have not been provided. We’ve reached out to Olonoh and several Formspring investors for more information and will update with anything we hear.
It’d be good to see Formspring get another lease on life, as vague as the details around its resurrection are at the moment. The company raised a total of $14 million and garnered a huge following in its heyday. Though Formspring’s novelty wore off as young people moved on to other social networking trends, it’ll be interesting to see if they can somehow recapture its audience with a new spin on its old app — or something new entirely.
Posted: May 11th, 2013 | Author: Colleen Taylor | Filed under: TechCrunch | Tags: VIDEO | No Comments » | 0 views
After a one-week hiatus due to Disrupt (did you miss us?) we’re back in the trusty TechCrunch TV studio with a brand new episode of CrunchWeek, the show where a few of us writers chat up the most interesting stories from the past seven days.
This week, Greg Kumparak, Anthony Ha and I talked about the mobile launch of the delightfully direct “dating” app Bang With Friends (and its apparent privacy bug), the shopping spree of big tech companies buying smaller mobile-focused startups (headed up by Yahoo, which snapped up four acquisitions this week), and Klout’s new Bing partnership and launch of ‘Experts’, getting it into the Q&A space.
Posted: May 9th, 2013 | Author: Colleen Taylor | Filed under: TechCrunch | Tags: VIDEO | No Comments » | 0 views
For the past several years, my New Year’s resolution has been some version of “cook more often” or “try a new recipe every week.” But it never really lasts. As much as I love the act of actually cooking, so much about it is a huge hassle — choosing a recipe, shopping for all the ingredients (and paying for a whole bottle of a spice I only need a tablespoon of), ending up with a bunch of leftovers.
A New York City-based startup called Plated feels my pain — and has raised a $1.4 million seed round led by ff Venture Capital along with angels including TechStars, Manischewitz Company CEO Alain Bankier, Facebook vet Andrew McCollom, and LA-based “adrenaline-fueled” investor Paige Craig.
Plated, which was founded last year by Harvard Business School alums Nick Taranto and Josh Hix, compiles gourmet recipes from noted chefs such as Michael Mina and delivers all the ingredients necessary to make a home-cooked meal — from the cut meat and chopped produce, right down to details such as a teaspoon of tumeric or a quarter cup of coconut oil — directly to your door. Plated costs $14 to $15 per plate for non-members, and as little as $10 to $12 per plate for members.
At the moment, Plated’s delivery area serves a swath of the United States’ Eastern seaboard from Virginia to New Hampshire, spanning a population of 52 million (since launching in late 2012 Plated has delivered “tens of thousands” of meals, Taranto and Hix said in a recent interview.) The funding means that Plated is working to expand that delivery area to other regions in the US in the coming months. Plated, which is currently working out of Manhattan’s TechStars incubator, is also actively growing its full-time staff, which now stands at 15 employees.
Plated’s new social recipe site (click to enlarge)
The seed funding also helped Plated develop a new social aspect of its service launching today called “Social Recipe Pages.” The idea here is to be a central place where people can share photos and relate cooking tips.
“With thousands of customers cooking the same meals on same night any given week, this will be a place for them to connect and engage with each other,” Taranto said. “They can talk about what they’re doing, share their personal takes on the recipes, talk to the chef who designed the meal, and ask questions.”
While Plated’s competition on the meal delivery side are services such as Seamless which deliver already prepared food from restaurants to young professionals and older empty nesters (which are Plated’s strongest demographic groups), the Social Recipe Page launch puts it into competition with the AllRecipes of the world. It’s an interesting next step toward Plated’s long-term vision, which goes well beyond ingredient delivery — it’s a larger goal of using technology to help bring us as humans back to our roots when it comes to food. Taranto puts it like this:
“As a working white collar professional, you spend the day at a computer. But there’s a visceral human desire to sink your knife into something. The creative process of making food, and sharing that with people you love most in life, is inherently human. The chopping, the boiling — people want to do that. The bigger picture is that we’re building the online food brand for 21st century.”
As a big idea startup with very unique business model, Plated will certainly be one to watch as it continues to scale.
Watch the video embedded below to see a Plated box and hear Taranto talk more about the company’s history and plans for the future.
Posted: May 9th, 2013 | Author: Colleen Taylor | Filed under: TechCrunch | No Comments » | 0 views
We all know by now that the right mentor can be a huge boon to your career. But actually finding the right Larry Summers to your Sheryl Sandberg can be awkward at best, and impossible at worst.
A new startup launching today called Everwise is looking to help. The San Francisco and New York-based startup, which was co-founded by tech industry veteran and current Yahoo board chairman Maynard Webb and former Audium founder and Cisco executive Mike Bergelson, has built a tech-powered platform for matching “protégés” with the right mentors and shepherding them through a six-month-long advisory relationship.
In an interview this week, Bergelson, who serves as Everwise’s CEO, said the service plugs data from a participant’s LinkedIn profile as well as a personalized questionnaire into its matching algorithm (which is based on Everwise’s studies of some 60,000 mentoring partnerships) to pair him or her with a volunteer executive from another company in the same industry to serve as a mentor. The idea is that sometimes people aren’t always the best at choosing the right mentor on their own.
“Mentor marketplaces as they exist today aren’t always working, because the people with most compelling titles and sexiest businesses get all the attention, even if they aren’t the right fit,” Bergelson said. “Everwise is like the eHarmony for mentoring… Our aim is to build longer lasting relationships that span with interactions over months.”
In addition to the software, Everwise provides a human element here too. The company has contracted live “relationship managers” who help shepherd the mentoring relationships from day one, checking in with phone calls and surveys to gather feedback and provide guidance.
There’s a price to this. Everwise charges each protégé $150 per month to use the site, and mentors, which are heavily vetted by the site, participate as volunteers. That might seem expensive, but at an enterprise level it’s been received well: Over the past year in Everwise’s private beta, companies such as Hewlett Packard, Direct Energy, and Sigma Aldrich have paid for their employees to find mentors through the program. “When we talk to companies about the pricing, our monthly price costs about the same as one day of management training,” Bergelson said.
Bergelson said that Everwise is different from other services in the mentoring space such as Clarity, since it is focused more on people in the corporate world than on entrepreneurs. Looking ahead, though, the company could look to scale out its technology and service beyond the white-collar sphere. Bergelson explained the vision like this:
“If we can figure out a way to provide a service that’s really valuable for really senior, swtiched-on, engaged Silicon Valley people at the HPs and the eBays of the world, and do that in a scalable way, then the platform and the technology could be used in lots of different contexts. Nowadays people have 11 jobs on average by time they’re in mid-thirties. Careers are ending up in places in infinite numbers of ways. The role of the mentor, the role of guidance, is even more important now than it has been.”
Everwise, which has raised just under $1 million in seed funding, has a full-time staff of 14.
Posted: May 8th, 2013 | Author: Colleen Taylor | Filed under: TechCrunch | No Comments » | 0 views
Path hasn’t had a particularly smooth road in terms of PR lately, but today brings some good news from the social networking app.
Path will announce today that its app will be built in for one-touch downloading as a featured app on several new Sprint devices: The Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One and Torque. The app will be featured along with a handful of others that have been selected for Sprint’s “Discover-it” widget.
A Path spokesperson would not provide details about how long the Sprint partnership will last, or any financial terms associated with the deal. In a statement, Sprint’s product VP Kevin McGinnis indicated that there’s more to come:
“Sprint and Path are finding ways to collaborate to enhance our customers’ experience. This is a first step. We’re excited to work with a mobile-first, best-in-class design company like Path.”
For years, Path as an app and its founder, Facebook alum Dave Morin, have been known quite well within tech-savvy circles, but at the moment the company is focusing on more widespread growth. This could be a key introduction to a more mainstream audience that might not have otherwise sought out and downloaded Path on the Google Play store.
Now, it also bears mention that moves like this aren’t all that’s necessary for app success — it was almost exactly a year ago that the now-defunct Color inked a big partnership to come pre-loaded on all Verizon devices, for example. But then again, many app-device partnerships, such as the one Twitter formed with Apple back in 2011, have been major wins.
Either way, for now it’s clear that Path, which has a user base that’s currently reportedly adding 1 million users per week, continues to be focused on more growth and is inking big partnerships to do so.