Archive for the Press & Events Category
TechCrunch, 5/31/12 –
Parse, the Y Combinator-backed startup that powers the back-end for mobile apps like Band of the Day and Hipmunk, is rolling out support for mobile web apps too.
As for Parse itself, the company is growing at a 40 percent month-over-month rate and has about 16,000 apps on the platform. It’s a freemium service, with a $199 per month plan for apps with up to 15 million API requests per month. There is also an enterprise version that doesn’t have a listed price and is negotiable.
While there are many competitors including Kinvey and Stackmob, Bernstam says they’re not worried. “Our biggest competitor are developers who want to roll their own back-end solution.”
Parse recently raised $5.5 million. They’re so bent on becoming the “Heroku of mobile” that they even took funding from the same venture investor, John Connors, at Ignition Partners. Just for reminders, Heroku was one of Y Combinator’s biggest exits to date when it sold to Salesforce for $212 million.
Go to full article here.
Market Watch WSJ, 5/31/12 –
Avvo, Inc., the web’s largest expert-only health and legal Q&A forum and directory ( www.avvo.com ), today unveiled a new Cosmetic Surgery microsite that will entertain and educate consumers about the top 10 most popular cosmetic surgery procedures. Highlighting what’s “Real vs. Fake,” the new site is part of a year-long campaign called “No Question Left Unanswered” (NQLU) which aims to provide one million trusted answers to consumer health and legal questions in 2012.
The Cosmetic Surgery microsite at http://answers.avvo.com/cosmetic-surgery lets consumers test their cosmetic surgery IQ through interactive components such as:
Cosmetic Surgery: Under the Surface Infographic. This body map demystifies some of the most popular cosmetic procedures, putting cost, recovery time, and results into perspective in a fun and engaging presentation.
“Real vs. Fake” Cosmetic Surgery Quiz. Consumers can test their cosmetic surgery IQ and register to win one of several prizes, including a $125 Spa Finder gift card or $100 worth of “SKIN IS IN” products.
“There is a massive amount of misinformation in the public sector about the costs, recovery time and risks associated with cosmetic surgery procedures,” said Dr. Tina Alster, Avvo.com medical advisor and founding director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery in Washington, D.C. “As consumers look online to find trusted medical advice – whether it’s for elective or non-elective procedures – Avvo.com can help them find the right medical professional and answer their questions.”
The Cosmetic Surgery microsite joins the NQLU Moms & Pregnancy microsite, which launched in March. The NQLU campaign introduces new ways for consumers to get answers to their health and legal questions and engage with licensed professionals online. Additional NQLU microsites will be released throughout the year on a variety of health and legal subjects.
Go to full article here.
WSJ 5/31/12 -
RANCHO PALOS VERDES, Calif.—Wall Street is still reeling from Facebook Inc.’s initial public offering, which left investors with financial losses and dimmed hopes for stocks. Silicon Valley, however, is moving on.
The harsh reception for the landmark IPO was a hot topic at the D: All Things Digital conference, a gathering of high-tech celebrities that kicked off Tuesday night in this resort town south of Los Angeles.
Go to full article here.
Wired, 5/22/12 –
What do you do when your startup gets off to an OK start but not a great one? Hunker down and figure out ways to lure users? Or sweep all the junk off the desktop and start over?
You start over, of course. It’s also known as “the pivot.” The overheated Internet space is based on catching lightning, and if the skies aren’t tossing bolts, you pick up your rod and head for another field. In a tech environment where you can go from pivot to a billion dollars in barely a year, perseverance is lunacy.
That was the reality facing Socialeyes, a startup co-founded by Rob Glaser (former CEO of Real Networks) and Rob Williams (the one-time Microsoft wizard involved in numerous startups, including Avogadro). The company’s idea to deliver persistent video connections between friends and workers wasn’t breaking out. “A VC looks for home runs,” says Williams. “We didn’t have that.”
“We’d raised $5 million [from Ignition Ventures],” says Glaser. “We could stick it out, or hard pivot.”
They chose to seek the lightning. Glaser came up with a new idea: Putting muscle into the phone call, or “reimagining telephony,” as he puts it. And Socialeyes adopted a new name, too — Sidecar.
In the middle of a phone call, you can use Sidecar to share collaborative data — like a point on a map.
Along with the new idea, embodied in a free app available today for iOS and Android, comes a compelling pitch: “In smartphones, all the innovation so far has been in data,” says Williams. “We want to let you use the capabilities of your phone into the calling experience.”
Sidecar actually offers two kinds of service to its users. First of all, it’s an alternative to actually paying for phone calls. Sidecar VOIP calls are free. This works not only when Sidecar users call others signed up for the no-cost service, but when they use Sidecar to call anyone in the United States or Canada.
The second, and flashier, service is dubbed Smart Calling, a collection of tasks that you can perform during a call. The home screen highlights these features in a circle arrangement that vaguely evokes an old-school dial phone.
Now here’s the coolest part. The flagship task — and the one that owes the most to video roots of Socialeyes — is See What I See. It’s a live-streaming, real-time video feature in the early stages of an ascendency that will ultimately change what we watch. Sidecar understands that while FaceTime is cool, it’s much more interesting for people to share their surroundings than unflattering views of their own sorry faces. So the See What I See feature offers streaming video from the camera on the back of the phone. (Users might want to restrict heavy use to the times when they’re on Wi-Fi — streaming video can rack up data charges.)
Picturephones never worked because the reality of two people on a phone call looking at each other is a vanity-killing, awkward proposition. But borrowing someone’s eyes at a given moment is another matter entirely. The possibilities of letting people share their visual points of view are endless. And if users really want to use the front camera for face-to-face video calls, Sidecar allows that, too.
See What I See is similar to a feature offered by another pivoting startup, Color, but the difference — the key difference as far as Sidecar is concerned — is that Sidecar does it within a phone call.
In part to punt on privacy issues, See What I See can’t be recorded. The recipient can choose to capture a still frame from the stream.
The other features offered on launch are photo-sharing, contacts and maps, all tasks that offer obvious benefit two people who need to share information during a call. In addition, Sidecar provides something called Whisper Text, which is like SMS inside of a phone call. You can use Whisper Text for those not-rare-enough moments when you can’t make out what the other person saying during a mobile call.
Expect other features to come later. The current ones were only the top choices in Sidecar’s list of 10 that may work (the one directly beneath the bubble was shared browsing). The trick is not to simply implement collaborative tasks, but to choose features that organically enhance a phone call. Sidecar has a rough measure of where to draw the line: “The moment the person has to use two hands on the phone, it’s not for a phone call,” says Williams.
Sidecar, available on iOS and Android, is free. Glaser says that, in true start-up fashion, the company will sweat revenue-generation issues later on. Possibilities include offering premium services, or licensing core technology. “If you have tens of millions of users,” he says, “there ought to be a way to monetize them.”
But first you have to get those millions to sign up — and then sign up their friends. Will smartphone users get excited about stuff they can do while making actual phone calls? Sidecar will find out. If all goes well, no need to re-pivot.
Go to full article here.
Geekwire, 5/15/12 –
Fast-growing social media startup Prosodichas nailed down $1.4 million in seed funding, money that the Seattle company will use to help media companies, publishers and other big brands target their Facebook posts to users when they are most likely to be online. The service also analyzes past Facebook page posts, and then makes predictions about how to best interact and post content moving forward.
Ignition Partners, the Bellevue venture capital firm, participated in the funding as did angel investors David Remer and Gary Vaynerchuk.
Prosodic said that it is currently processing social media performance for more than 330 million Facebook Page Likes. Discovery Communications, for example, said it has seen a 70 percent increase in interactions and a 42 percent increase in click-through rates since implementing Prosodic’s technology.
Prosodic is still very much in the early stages of development, but CEO Leigh Fatzinger told GeekWire in March that business “is going crazy” with interest from big brands and digital media agencies. “We are still getting started,” he said.
Fatzinger previously founded Nology Media, and worked at OneComm, Nextel, LightPointe, Terabeam, and ADAPTIX.
A number of other companies are operating in the social media monitoring space, including Visible Technologies, Simply Measured, Banyan Branch and Ready Pulse. Prosodic employs 11 people.
Go to full article here.
WSJ, 5/14/12 –
Symplified, the Cloud Identity Company, today announced the appointment of Denise Hayman as senior vice president of worldwide field operations. Hayman is a serial start-up sales executive who has helped build several very successful information security vendors including Zscaler, PGP Corp (now Symantec), Vontu and Tripwire. She joins the Symplified executive management team and reports directly to CEO Eric Olden.
Hayman assumes worldwide responsibility for direct field sales, inside sales, service delivery, customer support and field marketing. She joins Symplified following a record setting 2011 in which the company nearly tripled revenues year-over-year and increased customer adoption by 300 percent to surpass 3 million licensed users for its cloud and mobile identity and access management (IAM) service. Last year Symplified also raised an additional $20M in Series C financing led by Ignition Partners.
“Denise knows what it takes to scale successful information security companies and take advantage of fast growing markets like cloud and mobile identity. She has proven it over and over during the course of her career,” said Eric Olden, CEO and founder of Symplified.
“IT is undeniably moving to mobile and the cloud. This seismic shift is driving the need for a new approach to identity and access management, which has emerged as one of the fastest growing segments of the security market,” he added.
“Denise has the sales, management and industry expertise to hit the ground running at Symplified. Based on her track record at Zscaler, PGP Corp and Vontu, she is the ideal sales executive to extend our position as the leader in the cloud and mobile identity management market and take revenues to the next level,” he concluded.
Hayman joins Symplified from Zscaler, a leading provider of cloud information security services, where she was vice president responsible for partnerships and alliances on a global basis. Previously, she was vice president, global sales and field marketing for encryption software leader PGP Corp until its acquisition by Symantec. Prior to PGP, she was vice president of sales for data leak prevention market originator Vontu. Earlier, Hayman was senior vice president, worldwide sales and business development for IT security and compliance solutions vendor Tripwire. She started her career at Symantec. Hayman is a graduate of Boston College.
Go to full article here.
SEJ, 5/11/12 –
Rand Fishkin, the CEO of the popular SEO software company SEOmoz, recently announced a new project related to webspam research. The goal of the project is to better understand and devalue the amount of “link equity” that passes from pages that could be considered webspam. Fishkin explained the project on his Google+ page earlier this week:
“We’re working on a spam research project here at SEOmoz with the eventual goal of classifying, identifying and removing/limiting link juice passed from sites/pages we’re pretty sure Google would call webspam. A score (or scores) of some kind would (eventually, assuming the project goes well) be included in Mozscape/OSE showing the spamminess of inlinks/outlinks.”
Although he freely admitted that SEOmoz will not be able to develop better algorithms or spam detection than Google, he did indicate the research has already provided interesting results. While some people are already angry that he is planning on “exposing” spam, Fishkin is hopeful that the project will provide marketers with a better understanding of web marketing, search engine penalties, and link quality.
Fishkin indicated that the Penguin update was NOT the catalyst for the project and told WebProNews the following of Google’s recent update:
“In terms of Penguin – it’s done a nice job of waking up a lot of folks who never thought Google would take this type of aggressive, anti-manipulative action, but I think the execution’s actually somewhat less high quality than what Google usually rolls out (lots of search results that look very strange or clearly got worse, and plenty of sites that probably shouldn’t have been hit).”
SEOmoz data scientist Matthew Peters is expected to present the findings of the spam research project at the MozCon SEO conference in July. SEOmoz, which has 15,000 paying subscribers, also recently announced that they had raised $18 million in Series B funding from The Foundry Group and Ignition Partners.
Go to full article here.
Bloomberg, 5/5/12 –
Back in his days at Boston College, Bill Clerico knew how to stand out in a crowd. He did it by donning a costume of the school’s mascot, an eagle. Now as co-founder and CEO of WePay, one of many startups targeting the payments industry, he needs to stand out again.
Some investors are taking notice. WePay has just raised $10 million in a financing round led by Ignition Partners. Highland Capital Partners and August Capital, who were previous investors, also participated in the round. The company, founded in 2008, has raised about $20 million so far.
The Palo Alto, California-based company said the funds will be used to grow its workforce of 40 employees and expand its technology, which WePay touts as an easy way for small businesses to begin accepting payments online. It counts EBay’s PayPal as one of its big competitors.
When assessing a merchant’s track record, WePay looks at data on social networks. Once a business has an online presence — say, on Facebook or Yelp — they’re most likely going to have reviews and comments that can be data-mined. Clerico said it’s far easier for would-be fraudsters to create fake paperwork, than to control everything that is written about them on the Web.
Clerico won’t reveal revenues, but says sales grew by 10 times in 2011.
Go to full article here.
Geekwire, 5/5/12 -
SEOmoz CEO Rand Fishkin has been down this path before, as detailed in his extensive account of the company’s unsuccessful attempt to raise a large round of venture capital funding last year. But this time, with a different investor, the deal has actually closed.
They’re so excited that they’ve created their own Internet memes about it.
The Seattle-based provider of search-engine and social-media optimization software is announcing this morning that it has raised $18 million in Series B funding from Foundry Group of Boulder, Colo., along with one of its original investors, Bellevue-based Ignition Partners.
Foundry’s Brad Feld (one of the co-founders of TechStars) will be joining the SEOmoz board as a result of the deal.
Gillian Muessig, the company’s co-founder (and Fishkin’s mom) will be stepping down as president and board member, looking to pursue new projects.
SEOmoz says it plans to use the money to expand its web index, add new features to its software, hire more people and possibly make some acquisitions. The company currently has 60 employees, all of them in Seattle.
“It’s a huge amount of relief,” Fishkin said via phone yesterday afternoon, on his walk home from the office. “It feels like the last few years finally make sense around this process. The company has been going great … but there was always this monkey on my back: Why, if all of these things are going well, do we not have the kind of external validation and interest from investors?”
“This is validation, and it’s a validation in such a big way. Brad is such a huge presence in the industry. … It just feels great.”
Go to full article here.
Geekwire, 5/5/12 –
Ignition Partners is leading a $10 million venture capital round in WePay, a Silicon Valley online payments company. The money will be used to build out the company’s team and technology, with WePay claiming that its business grew by 10 times last year. The company certainly is entering a crowded field, one dominated for years by eBay-owned PayPal.
As part of the funding round, Ignition’s Chris Howard has joined the board. Other backers of the company include Highland Capital Partners, August Capital, Y Combinator, SVAngel, Dave McClure, YouTube founder Steve Chen, and PayPal co-founder Max Levchin. Total funding in the company — founded in 2008 and now employing 40 people — stands at $20 million.
The investment is the latest by Ignition in a San Francisco Bay Area company, following an extremely active pace of investment last year in which the Bellevue firm bankrolled more than a dozen California companies.
Go to full article here
TechFlash, 5/3/12 -
Korrio is the newest Seattle tech company to take on sports, and rather than looking to the pros, they’re aiming at the sports most of us do for fun. The name, Korrio, comes from the Maori word for play.
Korrio founder and CEO Steve Goldman took a few minutes to answer some questions about the company.
What is your elevator pitch?
Korrio helps you organize and share your sports life by providing the only integrated service for organizations, teams, families and fans.
We came up with the idea … As a parent and coach of two kids that are actively involved in sports I saw first-hand the lack of easy-to-use solutions in this space. After leaving Isilon Systems and thinking about what I wanted to spend time on, creating a great product for youth sports seemed like the perfect way to blend my passions for my kids, sports and building companies of lasting value.
The word that describes our company culture is … Play. We’re a company focused on sports, so we really try to have fun beyond all the hard work. We’ve taken “play” to heart and use it as an acronym to describe the kind of company we want to be: Passionate, (building) Lasting value, Always innovating and (doing) Your best.
The biggest challenge we face is … Building an integrated service means we have to focus on both administrative features for clubs, and consumer features for parents, players and fans. As a startup with a small development team, making sure we strike the right balance so priorities are appropriately set is a recurring challenge.
We’ve raised … Early seed money from angels such as Martin Coles (former COO of Starbucks, CEO of Reebok, and Nike executive), Sam Schmidt (owner Sam Schmidt Motor Sports), and Damon Huard (former NFL quarterback). Later, we secured $3.3 million in Series A funding from Ignition Partners. Partner John Connors (former CFO of Microsoft and current Nike board member) led the investment and joined our board of directors. We expect to raise additional funding this year.
If we had $3 million, we’d invest in … Mobile. Korrio already supports publishing your practice and game calendars to your phone, as well as sending you text alerts or “robocalls” when events change. The next focus for us is to bring the full Korrio experience to your smartphone or tablet so you can be as connected on the sidelines as you are at home.
The oddest thing about our company is … It smells like fresh bread all day. We’re located in SODO directly over Macrina Bakery, so in the summer when the windows are open it’s pretty tempting to float downstairs for a snack.
The one thing missing from the business is … More great people. As we grow we’re seeing how dynamic the Seattle market has become for top talent. We have a couple of open developer positions now that we’d love to fill with A players.
We won’t fail because …We have the best team, the best technology and the biggest vision in the space. Nobody else has ever tried to build something on this scale for youth sports and we are confident we have all the right pieces in place for success.
Go to full article here.
Bloomberg, 5/1/12 -
Adam Bosworth, co-founder of Keas Inc., talks about the company’s employee wellness programs which use social games. Bosworth spoke yesterday with Cory Johnson on Bloomberg Television’s “Bloomberg West.”
Check out video here.
Wall Street Journal, 5/1/12 -
In the effort to make workers healthier, employers and insurers have dangled carrots. They’ve threatened with sticks. Now, they are trying games.
The latest way to nudge people to improve their health is to make it fun and competitive, and take some techniques borrowed from online games like FarmVille, to incentivize them in other settings. Anna Mathews explains on Lunch Break. Photo: Zynga.
A growing number of workplace programs are borrowing techniques from digital games in an effort to encourage regular exercise and foster healthy eating habits. The idea is that competitive drive—sparked by online leader boards, peer pressure, digital rewards and real-world prizes—can get people to improve their overall health.
Geologist Deanna Gerwin enrolled in the game offered by her employer, Coeur d’Alene Mines Corp. CDE +0.46% in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. She selected healthy tasks that she was already doing, such as getting eight hours of sleep a night. But when she saw that other employee teams were outstripping hers, she ramped up her efforts to generate more points, such as eating fruits and vegetables five times a day and walking 10,000 steps daily. On weekends, she logged in to do extra health quizzes that padded her point total. Soon she made it into the top 10 in the rankings.
“I was surprised I got so into it,” says Ms. Gerwin, who says she rarely plays traditional digital games such as “Angry Birds.”
A survey of employers released in March by the consulting firm Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health found that about 9% expected to use online games in their wellness programs by the end of this year, with another 7% planning to add them in 2013. By the end of next year, 60% said their health initiatives would include online games as well as other types of competitions between business locations or employee groups.
Researchers say using videogame-style techniques to motivate people has grounding in psychological studies and behavioral economics. But, they say, the current data backing the effectiveness of workplace “gamification” wellness programs is thin, though companies including WellPoint Inc. and ShapeUp Inc. have early evidence of weight loss and other improvements in some tests.
So far, “there’s not a lot of peer-reviewed evidence that it achieves sustained improvements in health behavior and health outcomes,” says Kevin Volpp, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics.
Moreover, some employees may feel unwanted pressure from colleague-teammates or bosses when workplace competitions become heated, though participation is typically voluntary.
Some companies say they are seeing enthusiasm. A Samsung Electronics Co. semiconductor plant in Austin, Texas, offered a weeklong walking contest in the fall using a program from insurer UnitedHealth Group Inc. UNH +1.75% that lets employees form teams and track their results. The company will probably use it again for a planned Olympics-style matchup, which will involve events such as relay races wearing clean-room suits, said Charmaine Winters, senior manager of human resources.
Employers often award prizes and financial incentives to winners of the games, which typically also have digital rewards like badges. Game companies say they’ve seen prizes as big as cars, as well as extra days off, preferential parking spaces and cash, but often employers offer health-savings-account contributions.
A growing number of companies are trying to grab their business, including ShapeUp, Virgin Group’s Virgin HealthMiles, RallyOn Inc., RedBrick Health Corp. and Keas Inc., which provides the Coeur d’Alene Mines game.
Big insurers are also getting in the game. WellPoint, which already offers a wellness incentive program, is planning a new feature that lets workers track their steps using a pedometer device and compete for digital badges and rewards. Aetna Inc. AET +0.93% has a “Get Active!” initiative that lets workers form teams aimed at fitness and healthy-eating goals. Its members can access a digital game called Mindbloom that lets them create a tree that adds leaves as they perform tasks like drinking water.
Go to full article here.